If I’d had any idea what An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was actually about, I know I’d never have picked it up. And I definitely wouldn’t have been as keen if I’d known there was any hint of sci-fi because that’s (usually) just not my thing. But thank goodness for social media because An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was, in fact, pretty remarkable and outrageously addictive.
Enter April-May, an ordinary girl who stumbles upon a weird-ass sculpture on a New York City street. She’s captivated by this metallic, robot-like structure and calls her best friend (a podcaster and video buff) even though it’s 3am.
The quirky video they do with ‘Carl’ is a viral sensation. Not only that, but New York Carl is just one of dozens which have suddenly appeared at random points across the globe. Weird, right?
The mystery just ramps up from there. The media is in a frenzy and one of the only clues is that Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now was playing when security footage was cut while the Carls appeared.
When April-May looks at the Wikipedia page for the song, weird edits start happening that can’t possibly be coincidence. And then shit hits the metaphorical fan and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing hits full speed.
I am not the fastest reader. Sometimes I’ll race through a thriller, and I can binge an audiobook with the best of them but for the most part it takes me a good week or two to finish a book. Admittedly I did start An Absolutely Remarkable Thing on a day off, but once I got a chapter or two in I just couldn’t tear myself away.
And when I did, I was thinking about April-May and the Carls and what this whole mystery would boil down to. I can’t think of another book (which wasn’t a thriller) that I gobbled up so voraciously.
April-May was my favourite kind of character because she was flawed and, very annoyingly, kept making all the wrong decisions. Which is exactly why I loved her. Because to err is human and to explore that in fiction makes for an uncomfortably close reading experience.
April-May gets very famous, very quickly. The novel reflects heavily on this type of out of control, viral fame and they ways it can corrode our ethics. April-May craves attention and puts herself, and arguably the world, in harm’s way to continue achieving the views, the likes, the shares.
On a much smaller scale, we’re becoming slaves to our online popularity through our addiction to sites like Instagram and Twitter.
I find myself mindlessly scrolling, or falling into a funk when a photo I post doesn’t get as many likes as I thought it should have. Which is really, really scary when you step back and consider how deeply invested we are in our online presence. Needless to say, I found this element of the book fascinating.
Plot-wise, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was a strange mesh of contemporary political and social commentary with a zesty sci-fi twist. And that was just about the perfect amount of sci-fi for me.
There is no way I could have predicted the outcomes of this book and with each turn of the page I was kept guessing. Again, I can’t think of another non-thriller novel which has kept me so enthralled.
A compelling contemporary exploration of fame and the lengths we’ll go to for popularity with a twist of sci-fi, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is one of the strangest books and most enjoyable books I’ve read.
I was gifted a copy of this book by Nook and Burrow as part of their first book club.
Perfect for fans of The Next Together.
Grab a copy of the book (affiliate link)