By: Winona Young, Arts Editor
Given Hank Green’s background in YouTube as co-creator of Vlogbrothers, VidCon, SciShow, and many more, I was genuinely hesitant to add “good author” to Green’s many titles. With that said, I can say with absolute confidence that An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a gripping story full of compelling characters set in a rich universe.
The novel centres on April May, a young woman in New York who stumbles into fame after a YouTube video of her investigating a strange statue goes viral. What April discovers, however, is that this same statue had sprouted simultaneously in 64 other countries. Now, she finds herself at the epicentre of the disorienting world of fame — and of something much bigger than herself.
In a novel that pairs sci-fi with the very contemporary backdrop of Internet stardom, Green masterfully maintains a painfully realistic world. So few stories deal with how fame affects someone as ordinary as us, as millennials, and what sets Green apart from his contemporaries is that his story investigates the unique perspective of fame via YouTube.
He also extends this realism to his characters. His main characters are mainly millennials, plus a few ill-tempered antagonists — all of whom accurately speak the slang of their age, who are still growing and learning, who talk about contentious topics as well as frivolous ones . . . What I mean here is that Green has crafted very real, very flawed characters which help bring his novel to life.
I didn’t initially care for April May, and even though I never did end up changing my opinion of her, I did start to find her the most fascinating and compelling character. Green greatly details April’s dizzying descent into fame, and how such fame has affected not only her relationships but also how she sees herself.
Green’s strong suit is his set-up and the adventure aspect of his novel. Green has created a premise that is novel and unique in how it unfolds and progresses. I often found myself on the edge of my seat as I turned one page after the next, entangled in the mess of fame and mystery. The novel does not slow down its momentum, and is an exciting, fast-paced read. Thankfully, the novel does also manage to balance its action with emotional and intellectual depth.
But Green’s novel is not without flaws. It definitely has a slow beginning, especially with the introduction of April May, who is a compelling character, but will give the reader a hard time trying to engage with her. In addition, one of the book’s main plotlines is a tad confusing, and for the most part, is left unexplained.
With that said, Green has created a universe so enthralling that such flaws fall to the wayside. With Green apparently working away on the book’s sequel, I, along with many others, will eagerly await the continuation of this exciting and brilliant story.