Hank Green’s “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” is a sci-fi novel about our post-modern lives. It is about social media and live streaming. It is about making yourself into a “brand” and it is all done with a backdrop of unknown immobile robots that “landed” in every major city in the world at the exact same time.
April May, is a twenty-something, design-school BFA grad who lives in New York City. One night at 3 am she comes in contact with a giant warrior robot that she mistakenly believes to be an art installment in the city. She is looking at it, intrigued, when she calls her best friend to come make a video of it to share on his YouTube account. She is a bright and beautiful young person with a bubbly personality and her video goes viral. I turns out that there are 63 other “carls” (her name for the robot) located in every other major city in the world.
Green uses this robot as the basis for touching on themes of insecurity and fear in relationships to needing and wanting constant attention from “followers” on social media like Twitter and YouTube. She explores the idea that by “branding” yourself, you actually dehumanize yourself into an idea of who you want to be or project that differs from who you really are. Another major theme that Green covers is the idea of fame and the “levels of fame” and how each level come with different perks and drawbacks.
I read this book in less than three days. It was so intriguing and really stimulated my thinking into the present state of the world and the fractured parts of society due to technological “advances.” I definitely recommend it to fans of the sci-fi genre, but also people who want to take a deeper “look” into social media and its effects on our modern lives. I think this might be the best book I’ve read this year so far.
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