Genre: contemporary, sci-fi
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
Rating out of five: five
SPOILER-FREE, i’ve written an entire post filled with spoilers *here*.
I managed to have no expectations going into this book even though I’ve watched vlogbrothers for years. I really really liked this book. Whatever concerns I had of it being a bad choice to have the main characters be a young adult, was completely erased without a couple ten pages. I was drawn into this book extremely quickly and it has become one of this year’s favourites.
It’s a great mix of sci-fi elements put into our real world, with massive robots showing up all over. This book is also about the story of fame told through the eyes of one building her career on a viral hit of “discovering” these robots, which she calls Carl, and putting it on youtube. There’s also critical thoughts around society and community as everyone tries to figure out the mystery behind these robots and cooperate with varying degrees of success to unlock their riddles. It mirrors my concerns about what fame might do, how it changes one’s values and interactions when millions of people are interested in following a person. There’s a unique realness Hank brings into it, being in that world himself and surely having seen friends struggle with these questions.
The writing is very-straight forward and clear, it’s the storytelling that’s mostly the focus. April’s voice seems very true to me, a nineteen year old girl. I liked that she was bisexual in the way that it was one of many traits she had. I’ve watched a lot of youtube. But I’ve always had this line where I realize that everyone’s real people, with insecurities and talents. The internet makes so many forget that, somehow. This book still made me question the cycle of internet celebrities (fuck the name influencers, honestly) posting instagrams to gain attentions and followers and it so easily turning into a vicious cycle of preying on people’s insecurities or paying attention to destructive behavior. On social media, every crisis can gain you a bigger following, and this book has plenty of commentary on that.
I do like all the characters, Maya above everyone else because she’s badass and also sees April as a real person. Miranda the scientist was really fantastic as well. Andy, April’s partner (in
crime fame) was the voice of reason sometimes, with a much needed caution. I liked April, which I wouldn’t had if I knew her in real life. She’s a great character, because she’s dimentional and you get to see her thought process changing. Like how can you not like a girl that can fuck up this much and still be self-aware about it. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well.
I just loved a lot of parts, but it’s so easy to spoil this book, which is why I for the first time split the spoilers up into a seperate post. It’s absolutely worth a read (or three honestly), I don’t think you will regret it!
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