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Hank Green

Author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

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Includes the name: Hank Green (author)


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Common Knowledge



I don't feel quite up to summarizing this, the second book in a duology, as I don't want to give any spoilers. So, straight into the review: I enjoyed this about as much as the first book, meaning that I found it a pleasant but not mind-blowing read. It had many of the same positives, and some of the same flaws. It did wrap up a few of the questions I had after reading the first book, and provided a satisfactory resolution of the story arc. It reminded me strongly in several ways of Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, which is interesting since that book and this one came out within a few months of each other -- perhaps a sign that the greater culture was grappling with these issues at that point in time. All in all, if you liked the first book, you'll probably want to read this one as well.… (more)
foggidawn | 27 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |
April May is on her way home after a late night at work when she discovers what she assumes is an ambitious art exhibit. It's New York City, after all, and sometimes things like this Transformer-looking robot dude just show up. She calls her friend Andy to come and bring his camera and recording equipment, and they put up a quick video about the statue, which she cheekily names Carl. The video goes viral within 24 hours, because it's not just New York City where Carl has appeared -- 60 of them have appeared simultaneously in cities across the world, disrupting surveillance cameras and confounding scientists with their mysterious chemical makeup. Could they be . . . aliens?

I read this book because I've been listening to the backlist of the podcast "Dear Hank and John," where authors and brothers Hank and John Green answer questions and just have generally goofy conversations, and of course the episodes from around this book's release included a fair bit of chat about it. I enjoyed the read, but I'm not sure how I would have felt about it had I not been listening to the pod. The book's narrative gets very explain-y in spots, and that's totally Hank. I didn't mind it in the book because I'm used to it in the pod, but I can see being put off by it if I were coming to this book with no prior knowledge of the author. I also feel like a few plot threads were left dangling. I'm trying to decide if I would consider the ending of the book a cliffhanger, and I kind of would, as it left me wanting the next book right away. Fortunately, having dragged my feet on reading this, the second volume is readily available, so I'll be taking a look at that one soon.
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foggidawn | 112 other reviews | Mar 21, 2024 |
This was on my 23 in 2023 list because it was a gift from a family member, but I confess I became more interested in this after the recent Twitter kerfuffle where Hank Green kind of accidentally stumbled into coming out as bi.

I was a few chapters in when I thought to myself, "Well, this isn't the best writing I've ever read, but it's interesting," and then not much later, "Oh no, I am NOT going to be able to put this down!" And I did not. I inhaled the rest of the novel.

Basic synopsis: Overnight giant identical statues appear in cities around the world, and no one knows where they came from. April, who is 23 and a recent art school design grad, invites a friend to make the first YouTube video about the statues, and before she wakes up the next morning has inadvertently become the media's go-to person on all things related to the statues. And then very, very deliberately, she and her friends set out to solidify that position, for all kinds of reason – some noble, some foolish, some vain. When it turns out the statues may be extraterrestrial in origin? And that those responsible for them seem to be testing/observing/influencing humanity? Well, all kinds of people feel all kinds of ways about that.

I enjoyed this. The Carls (the statues) felt a little underdeveloped, but there is a second book for that, I suppose. I found interesting what the book had to say about fame, social media, branding, punditry, and the ways people get their identities entangled with a position. None of these should be surprising, as it is clear from Hank Green's social media that he thinks deeply about these things.

I am really curious where the second book is going to take this story, so I guess I am going to have to pick up a copy of that soon!
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greeniezona | 112 other reviews | Mar 15, 2024 |
AART was one of my favorite books last year, so I was really looking forwards to this sequel. On the whole I mostly enjoyed ABFE and found parts of it thought-provoking, funny, or just downright entertaining. The main characters go through a LOT of development and I found each of their arcs fairly well-written, and I love them all as in team working together; I feel like that's when they're all at their best. Maya in particular I felt invested in: she's a really interesting character and I'm so glad she got more spotlight this time around! The cycle of POVs felt right for this book, too- it was nice to be able to be inside multiple heads.

The main downside was for me was that, in some fairly significant ways, the novel felt kinda sloppy? I can't fully figure out my words for this, but the first half felt seemed like it was going in one direction and setting certain things up (the Fish app, Maya's rocks, the strange occurrences, the books) that were later either dropped or given, in my opinion, weak answers. Along this same line, it felt like Green was just yanking around the plot/characters when it was convenient without actually giving them reason to be how they were. One example is Robin, who just kinda stops being mentioned around the 70% mark after essentially just being a minor plot device (this is a SHAME and I so badly want a standalone Robin book, or even a novella!) The explanation behind The Thread also felt too easy, almost gimmicky. Actually, one of the only things in the book that shocked me was the big reveal with Miranda later in the story. I just would have liked more genuine surprise or delight like what was in AART. Basically: questions were given weak answers or Green seemed to throw stuff in that didn't really stick or make an impact.

There's also the fact that this book is just much more "preachy" and info-dumpy than its predecessor. I'm putting "preachy" in quotes because it's just the best word I can find right now that describes how I felt. There is a lot of talk in the book about the distribution of power and wealth, the use of power and wealth, capitalism, the economy, how people succumb to other forces, politics, the question of could VS should...the list goes on. It's just a very HEAVY book in some ways, and that's not inherently a bad thing- these are important topics! Green brought up some good questions and I stopped reading at times to consider what he was asking. It felt like a pretty big shift in tone from AART and I wasn't really expecting it, and it just made for a more tedious read.
The info-dump side of this is the bad part; there are certain chapters or moments (like Carl's) that just seem to DRAGGGGGG as the reader get lengthy explanations for things that I'm not convinced we needed to know. Literally every time Andy started talking about money or investments or shares my eyes would glaze over and I'd struggle to understand what was happening. Not gonna lie, the fact that Andy's arc was so finance/money heavy and had him talk so much about it made him hate him just a little bit. Oops.

This all makes it seem like there was a lot I didn't like, but I did like it - at least, PARTS of it. It was fresh and pretty fun at times, and I was hyped to get more Carl weirdness. I love the way Green writes his characters, and I think the way he imagines plots and concepts is fascinating. I just think this sequel needed another couple rounds of editing and some rewritten plot points here and there. However, ABFE is definitely weaker than the first book; when I reread Carlverse stuff in the future I will only be reading the first one and lowkey pretending I don't know about this one... Personally I'm hoping the next Hank Green novel will be something outside of the Carlverse, because as much as I like it, I think it's best the stays as a duology and isn't dragged out.
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deborahee | 27 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |



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