Graphic Novels: dark fairytale, dystopian & fluffy gay romance | Short Reviews

I’m having a bit of a hard time reading as I’m busy with studying (2nd year physics student) as well as ill at the moment (no worries, thankfully not corona, I’ve been tested twice). So it’s the perfect time to again read as many graphic novels that I could get my hands on! Here’s some of my other graphic novels reviews.

Through the Woods by Emily Carrol

As I begun reading I was sceptical because the illustrations were breath-taking from the start, giving all the dark fairytale vibes, but I didn’t know how much of a substance the plots would have. A few pages in it truly got much better, as the fairytale twists got mysterious, exciting and dark. It’s made up from several different “short stories”, some more red riding hood inspired and some that reminded me some of Coraline and some of the podcast The Magnus Archive. Reading this felt like playing a game where you know every decision is a bad one. I also immediately ordered the author’s other graphic novel «When I arrived at the castle»! 5/5 stars.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1

Plus points for being dark, but that’s the only positive in my eyes. I was excited for this as I truly liked the new TV series made from Sabrina the teenage witch. But this graphic novel drains any personality Sabrina is known for out of the character. I get that setting up somewhat the same plot as the TV series does in multiple episodes is difficult in one volume, but it just isn’t done with any charm at all. I won’t be reading the rest of the series as I felt it has little potential. 2/5 stars.

Paper Girls vol. 1 & 2

First impression of volume 1 was that I liked the retro apocalyptic stranger things vibe featuring a teen girl squad. It didn’t really get further into the plot or explanation than unexplained aliens, but it was also a lot to set up. It’s about a group of girls out delivering newspapers when they get caught up in this mystery of disappearing people and frightening strangers hunting after them. 3/5 stars.

Volume 2 had a higher chance of keeping the suspense up without as much of the confusion, which made the time-travel, sci-fi aspects much more enjoyable as well as delving into an interesting cast. Not to forget how monster tardigrades was a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life before now. I yelped out loud from surprise and happiness – I can’t explain it either. It’s just a good mix of chaos & the unexpected. Like the looming, flying ships that came into the picture suddenly. The color scheme is also truly lovely.

If I would criticize something it’s the ‘feminism’ branding push that seems a bit ‘off’, not that I’ve looked further into reasons behind it. It’s a similar feeling that lingers as from the casual homophobia that makes an appearance in volume 1, as if that was something that just belongs with the retro vibes. It was called out by other characters, so I just mentally noted it down as strange for now and makes me second-guess the future dynamic of the friendgroup somewhat. 4/5 stars.

Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman

Review of vol. 1! To sum up I really like the author’s writing in general and that it was a truly cute, important gay coming of age story. And I love the illustration style. And this is true for the second and third volume as well. My only critique is a somewhat big one; a lot doesn’t happen in each volume. It feels like the story told could’ve been cut down in some ways, but at the same time I realize it’s aimed at a younger audience for the most part and I’m so happy it just exists. 3/5 stars for both.

university has become my home | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green (it was so awesome)

Added to TBR:

  • Starlight by Richard Wagamese (ownvoices for indigenous)
  • The end of everything (astrophysically speaking) by Katie Mack (science, physics): I’ve followed Mack on twitter for a while and she’s this great astrophysicist, so I’ve been truly looking forward to this book
  • The winter duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett (YA fantasy, lgbt; f/f & nonbinary characters)
  • Spellbooks of the lost and found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (magical realism, lgbt; bi): I do truly love good trios, especially if they’re witches
  • Mexican gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror, historical fiction, gothic, set in Mexico)
  • The city we became by N. K. Jemisin (urban fantasy, lgbt)
  • Burn by Patrick Ness (dragons!!!, fantasy)
  • Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas (fantasy): because I should give up on her by now, but everyone seem to like this (finally) adult book and I can’t help being interested/hopeful
  • Kingdom of souls by Rena Barron (fantasy, set in West Africa)
  • A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini (historical fiction, Afghanistan)
  • Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji (historical fiction): I’ve actually wanted to read this for a long time, but never added it to my TBR somehow?? I’ve seen some amazing quotes/paragraphs from here out of context.
  • Earth and ashes by Atiq Rahimi (historical fiction, war, Afghanistan)
  • PET by Awaeke Emezi (YA fantasy, trans mc, Nigerian author)
  • Passenger to Tehran by V. Sackville-West (travel, memoir-like, set in 1926): I fell down a rabbit hole reading about her life dating both men and women and this book written as a diplomat’s wife seems very interesting
  • Honeybee by Trista Mateer (poetry, lgbt, smalltown)
  • SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson (poetry, sexual abuse)
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson (sci-fi, fantasy, set in Nigeria)
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (sci-fi, fantasy)

Three things on my mind:

  • I read too little of non-bookblog articles about books I guess, but a lot of the new books I wanted to read above came from an article from Tor publishing on 25 most anticipated sci-fi & fantasy books of 2020
  • It was another quote from an article that set me out on a deep rabbit hole; Esquire’s “The Secret Oral History of Bennington”. It’s about the college in the 80’s, producing a group of famous artists, including Donna Tartt (the author of two of my favourite books; The Secret History & The Goldfinch) and American Psycho’s Bret Easton Ellis. There’s so many good quotes in that article, and I’ve rarely trusted a group of people less to say the truth accurately and not have a skewed perspective because of their heightened sense of self-worth. Doesn’t make it any less fascinating to look into, though.

TODD O’NEAL: The Secret History isn’t so much a work of fiction. It’s a work of thinly veiled reality—a roman à clef. When it came out, Claude and Matt and I got endless calls. Everybody was saying, “Oh, did you know Donna just wrote a book about Claude and you all? And Claude is Julian and Matt is Bunny and you’re Henry.”

Todd O’Neal was another student at the college Tartt attended
  • I booked my tickets back to university, finally. I knew more people would travel by train because of corona making planes more unsafe, but I didn’t realize 95% of the tickets would be sold out for the next week and a half during what’s still summer! We don’t start up school again truly for another three weeks guys! Seems like everyone is like me and have decided that five months away from my dorm is already too long. The fact that it’s still summer also means that they’re working on the tracks, so instead of eight hours, it’s a twelve hour train trip. And I’m truly sick from an sinus infection (I tested negative for corona, no worries), so that will be hell on earth, no matter how much I love train-rides. I went on a hunch that the earlier train at the end of the week was the right one, and a minute afterwards my new roommate (and friend) texts me, turns out we’re on the same one train by accident.

If there’s something I’ve learned in my personal life this week is the reinforcement of this idea – find your support anywhere you can, trust those people even if it will hurt if they break that trust, create your own family through friends. It goes with the story that I’m leaving earlier than expected because shit went down, that I’m lucky to have a mom that loves me, and that I’ve experienced a lot of rejections from family in the last five months. I miss my uni family, so deeply. Soon I will again use my insomniac nights sending my rants on literature, in this case it would be Bennington College and the type of elitism there, to the other insomniac directly across the hall until we both give up and meet for a nightly snack in the kitchen.

I went into my first year of university knowing that I could count on no one to be there to catch me if I fell. I’m going into the second year of university having stumbled and fallen a lot these last five months, but always having the hope that I would be back home soon, where people are so different in how they show they care – but they all do. Only four days left.

Exciting New Book Releases Summer/Autumn 2020

So I made a exciting book releases for spring and summer and also a short one with queer summer books, but then I forgot all the July book releases, so that’s included in this as well I guess? Mostly fantasy, young adult, queer, sci-fi, but also some poetry and a graphic novel.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: I’ve already bought it, I just forgot to add it to my latest list. It’s the sequel to Hank Green’s first amazing novel and here’s a review all trying to explain how much I loved that one.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: a fairytale vibe story based on Persian mythology about a princess who’s poisonous to the touch. I’m looking forward to demons and a great character development, let’s see this girl own her powers.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Loved Wilder Girls by Power, and looking forward to more horror involving young adult-age girls, without it really being YA. And w/ all the sapphic vibes! It’s about a girl trying to find her past & old hometowns, which is pretty vague.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Any m/m romance being compared to “Red, white and royal blue” piques my interest, mostly for the enemies-to-lovers trope & slight political setting that hopefully promises. Here we also get fake-dating for publicity.

The Year of the Witchling by Alexis Henderson

Release date: July 21st

Why I want to read it: a promise of feminist fantasy & discovering dark powers. Also witch / church conflict. I mean, I’m always looking for good witch books.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Release date: September 1st

Why I want to read it: a trans guy summons a ghost, which then creates a lot of trouble for the hell of it. Also ownvoices for trans & latinx elements of the book.

To Sleep In a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: the first sci-fi book by Paolini since his Eragon series – that seems like both a hard thing to write & something I’m very curious about

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: grieving her dead mother, witnessing a magical attack on campus, a mage by the name of Merlin that tries and fails to vipe her memory, investigating mother’s murder, learning that there exists a group of ‘Legenborn’ magicians that are descendants of King Arthur & magical war – this young main character is getting put through a lot. Also has a bi mc and lesbian and nonbinary characters, secret societies and demons.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Release date: September 22nd

Why I want to read it: Hyberbole and a half by Allie Brosh is one of my all time favourite humor comics/graphic novels.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Release date: September 29th

Why I want to read it: magical school!! but this time by an author that I truly adore, so hopefully done right or in an interesting way. A YA fantasy where monsters lurks everywhere and frienships are hard to come by as everyone is struggling for survival. And a main character who’s got powerful dark magic.

Sweetdark by Savannah Brown

Release date: October 8th

Why I want to read it: I’ve enjoyed Savannah’s poetry & writing in general for a long time. Pleasure, chaos, apocalyptic vibes, vulnerability – it all sounds very exciting.

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater & Morgan Beem

Release date: October 13th

Why I want to read it: It’s by Stiefvater. But also I’m a sucker for the completely opposite, but inseparable duo. Very interesting to see how the illustrations turns out in this graphical novel as well as just how alive those swamps they discover are.

Good First Lines of Books

I want to preface this with how I think first lines don’t have as much to say when picking up a book as the first page, or first couple pages. But I’ve collected some I think are particularly good ones, setting the stage for the rest of the plot. I also just now found out that apparently I like when authors describe silence as something tangible??

“The assassins dropped into the palace grounds at midnight, four fleet shadows dark against the wall. The fall was high, the ground was hard; they made no more sound on impact than the pattering of rain.”

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud

“It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

“The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal.”

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

“How does one describe Artemis Fowl? Various psychiatrists have tried and failed.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

“I am a fighter. To be a fighter, you have to be passionate. I have so much passion, it’s hard to hold it all in. That passion escapes as tears from my eyes, sweat from my pores, blood from my veins. So many people assume that I’m cold and callous, but the truth is you need a big heart to fight. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have had it broken too. I can compete with broken toes or stitches in my foot. I can take a hit without batting an eyelash, but I will burst into tears if a sad song comes on the radio. I am vulnerable; that’s why I fight.”

My Fight Your Fight by Ronda Rousey

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.”

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Life is bullshit.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson  

It’s tempting to leave it at that, but the next couple lines are pretty great too;

Life is bullshit. Consider your life for a moment. Think about all those little rituals that sustain you throughout your day—from the moment you wake up until that last, lonely midnight hour when you guzzle a gallon of NyQuil to drown out the persistent voice in your head. The one that whispers you should give up, give in, that tomorrow won’t be better than today. Think about the absurdity of brushing your teeth, of arguing with your mother over the appropriateness of what you’re wearing to school, of homework, of grade-point averages and boyfriends and hot school lunches. And life. Think about the absurdity of life.

Anti-heroine & Action in the Cas Russell Series by S. L. Huang

The series so far (2020) consists of Zero Sum Game #1, Null Set #2, Critical Point #3

Pages: 336, 312 and 368

Genre: thriller/mystery type of book with some science fiction aspects, mostly in people with ‘superpowers’ (used for more bad than good)

It’s truly going into the pile (in my head) of favourite books.

Synopsis

For the first book as to not spoil anything;

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars, four stars, four stars

I was looking for a character like Cas when I started this series, which I think is the clue to liking it. What you’re dealing with is mob/cartel level of action and bloodbath, where the side characters are everything from cops turned ‘personal investigators’ to trained assassins and sharpshooters. Not to mention the whole ‘evil organization’ thing going on, which turns out to actually have a whole epic scheme going on. The bad reviews I’ve seen has made me angry in that they’re mostly people who hate the cold calculated voice that Cas brings to this, but surely they’re warned that this isn’t some young adult book and that she’s grown up with this level of violence, even as the lack of knowledge of her background becomes a bigger and bigger plot point.

Cas is deadly, supernaturally so, with some question-marks at the end of that remark. The more science fiction and supervillains with powers parts comes through in the second and third book more, but I liked it. The math parts I expected to be bad from the synopsis, but they were an interesting part of her abilities, and plays a good role in the books. As the math lover I am, I would’ve wanted even more of it, but it’s like drizzled in there so that it can be ignored by those who would want to. It adds a bit of magic, almost.

The level of action, the mystery of Cas’ past, the level of gray area of morality (turning completely black at some points), the bad guys with a conscience – it all really made me love this series. The ‘superpowers’ are original, the writing funny in a dry way. It has everything I was looking for in a fast-paced, but exciting read. But then I do love the character of Rio as well, the emotionless being he seems to be. I mean who can’t be interested after a sentence like this –

“Ms. Russell,” said Dawna delicately, “I am not sure you are fully aware of Mr. Sonrio’s skills. His ability to be effective—it borders on the unrealistic. He has destroyed entire governments. Leveled armies. Found and obliterated terrorist cells the intelligence agencies of several continents were chasing their tails trying to pursue. He has altered the course of nations. A lone man.” Her voice was calm, factual, and very serious. Huh. So that was what Rio did in his spare time. I’d had no idea he was that impressive. I’m not going to lie: I was jealous.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop | Book Review

Genre: sci-fi short story, romance, asexual main character

Pages: 65

Synopsis

Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular ‘Raise’ AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.

Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master’s dream for the shop.

When Clara stops by Sal’s shop for lunch, she doesn’t expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on… 

My thoughts

Rating: five out of five stars

A short & cute sci-fi love story, set in an old tea shop, between a highly-skilled technician working on AI and a fully autonomous asexual robot! Which I really didn’t think would work, but when the sci-fi world was first explained it made complete sense. There’s what we would define as robots, which have been programmed by a human to do tasks or act a certain way, and then there’s these high-tech beings that should be considered as intelligent, aware and (probably) given the same rights as humans – to the point where they stopped creating them because they were too full of free will. And that’s the type of “robot” in this love story, called Sal.

I really liked the writing and the focus on routines and daily life of Sal the robot, as well as the technician Clara having her quirks, with wanting to travel and keep her distance from people. It was all so perfectly put together; the emotion, the plot, the romance building up and showing how these two people fit together so perfectly. It succeeded in telling the story of someone at the edge of society, being considered different and harassed for it.

What really made this story work is seeing scenes from the robot’s perspective as well. The writing and thoughts were clearly different, but at the same time human enough. It became a journey of trying to figure out what was memories and “human” emotional connection to the tea shop for Sal and what was their ancient programming tying them to the place they were tasked to upkeep.

I would whole-heartedly recommend this story, even if you’re like me and is usually so much more interested in the sci-fi aspects than the romantic story. I love tea and rituals and robots and skilled introverted technicians. I’m looking forward to reading more short stories by the author!

Fav quotes *minor spoilers*

Her wanderlust was hard to explain to anyone who didn’t feel likewise. Too many people were rooted to a concept of home, wanted to have the same place to return to every day, to walk the same paths between home and work and back, to see the same faces every day. Nobody would just nod to the idea that she could decide to leave before she’d picked somewhere to go. 

They lay together in a tangle of skirt and blankets and discarded cords and chips.

She couldn’t cry, and despite that, she heard herself make the sound, a shaky breath, a sob, and she flung her arms around Clara and just held on as she tried to find her own center, tried to find a way to understand herself that wasn’t defined in contrast to anyone else.

Legion Series by Bradon Sanderson | Book Review

The book Legion is the first of three in a series by the same name, which has also been collected and sold as one bigger book, which is makes it a bit awkward to search for. Here is it all collected in one book.

Genre: Sci-fi

Pages: 350 in total

Synopsis

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems. . .for a price.

His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: Book One – 5 stars. Book Two – 4 stars. Book Three – 2 stars.

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite authors, which is what made me pick up this series. It started out with a great concept, a genius who has split himself into aspects, creating side-kicks with specialization in different skills, different personalities and made up backstories. For example can there be one expert in language, fighting, deciphering code or computers. With Sanderson funny dialogues, and an imaginative plot with a camera that can take pictures of the past, the first book comes together into one perfectly entertaining story.

In the second book it starts to get a bit repetitive. The plot is still exciting, the interaction between the different hallucinations/characters still entertaining to follow. But it also brings with it the beginning of what becomes my big problem with book three, where Stephen Leeds becomes even more overwhelmed with the aspects he’s created, and Sanderson repeating how they’re made up way too often. It feels clunky in the story, which is weird since the fact that they’re in Stephen’s mind doesn’t really matter to it. He’s created them in a way where Stephen does everything he imagines the aspect characters doing.

In book three Sanderson doesn’t succeed in portraying how Stephen is suddenly losing his mind completely, and still finish the plot he’s built up. It doesn’t feel as fast-paced, entertaining or exciting anymore. My thoughts through the whole third book was “let’s get to the end and see if the aspects are still there or if he’s gotten rid of them somehow”. To me it feels rushed and much less clever than the first book, somehow. It was the execution I disliked more than the concept of the ending, I think.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone wanting to read some sci-fi, have a quick refreshing read between larger books or want a book that include some questions of psychology.

Favourite quotes

“My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.”


Short reviews: aliens & feminism

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A short book packed with useful and practical advice to how to raise a girl to have complete self-worth and make them prepared, without setting unreachable standards for how to raise a kid. It’s very matter of fact and inclusive, a modern view and setting for feminism and a woman’s place in society (which is everywhere – you just got to get your children to believe it). Wholeheartedly recommend it to every adult who in any part participate in raising a kid. 5/5 stars. 

aliebn.jpg

everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by jomny sun

This book is so special, it’s a graphic novel in very simplistic style, about a lonely alien that’s sent to earth to observe humans and instead meets a lot of different animals and tries to learn from them. It’s just a wonderful, wholesome, calming read with a alien feeling alien to other aliens and then finding friends in strange places. When ur too tired to read anymore you can just sit there and colour in the illustrations, like I absolutely did. 4/5 stars.

 

 

 

SPOILERY Review: An Absolutely Remakable Thing by Hank Green

So I wrote another spoiler-free review here, where I gave the book five out of five stars. I’ve never made two parts reviews, but I really want to geek out over this book honestly.

So I just listened to an interview by Hank where he said the book was born out around a lot of individual scenes and trying to write a story around them, especially the grape jelly scene. Did he mean Carl making a person turn into grape jelly? Jeez. That’s a great way to start writing a book, and makes my ideas feel a bit more valid.

Anyway, here’s a lot of moments I liked:

  • “You’re a digital girl, April, in a digital world. We all know how to perform.” Already on page 10 I realized that Hank Green’s real life thoughts and concerns would slip through into the book in form of Andy’s bluntness.
  • Maya. All of Maya’s parts. That girl is awesome.
  • When “Don’t Stop Me Now” was first mentioned was when I realized I would have a lot of songs stuck in my brain reading this book. The wikipedia puzzle was creative.
  •  “So here’s a really stupid thing about the world: The trick to looking cool is not caring whether you look cool. So the moment you achieve perfect coolness is simultaneously the moment that you actually, completely don’t care.” I need more time to consider the degree of truth to that. I have a few friends that have become models, they’re also the people that look cool in everyday normal and weird circumstances. They do also seem to care very much. But I get what April’s thinking.
  • April ruining every relationship and “isolating yourself from the love of other humans because of deep, subconscious fears that you are unable to recognize even exist.” and still realizing it. I’ve seen a lot of readers say that they didn’t like her as a person, while many also saying she’s a great character, but I have to disagree. A girl that can fuck up this much and still be aware of it. I had to consider it, but I definitely like her. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well, btw.
  • Here’s the first moment I adored: Maya’s no-bullshit reaction when April is purposely distancing herself from her. That “oh, fuck you, April” moment. Wouldn’t have thought of it so highly if I realized we wouldn’t see much of Maya for a while thought. Just wanted her to stick up for herself.
  • The mom’s point of how the dreams could’ve changed people more than they think. That would’ve been a different book if it went down that path, but it really stuck with me and my suspicion for the rest of the book.
  • April feeling burned out and going on “temporary fuel” with cool things happening until the growing hate for Peter became that long-burning fuel and motivation. It’s so dangerous, but I understand too well what she’s doing.
  • Second moment I adored: Miranda taking on the role as CEO of a tech start-up. The idea of the start-up was amazing, with everyone collaborating online on this dream and puzzle they all was given and had equal access to and could prove themselves against. But reading about Miranda, who April had described as pretty shy and smart until then, taking on such a leader role made me appreciate them both. And realize how unreliable April’s narrative is.
  • “One plus of the Dream was that if I stayed in it all night and didn’t wake up, I’d stay out of my nightmares.” OOoff, that hit me.
  • Was concerned for a bit there if Hank Green was going to write a lesbian sex scene and how much I would laugh out loud and cringe at it. The solution seemed like the most Hank thing to do and I laughed anyway.
  • All the pages with messages of what people in power can do faced with uncertainty and ignorance. Of groups moving towards the poles and becoming more radical, and how that happens.
  • When Carl was revealed to be sentient and understand April I was excited. When he didn’t want to be taken pictures of I died laughing for some reason. I just like the surrealness of things like robot hands running around, saving people like superheroes.
  • April’s description – without emotions at the most intense moments. Like she can show frustration talking about “minor” daily life issues, but when she was stabbed she’s describing her scream as awful enough that they had to cut it out of the tape and goes on to describe the mic. The switch happened regularly, really brought out different sides in her.
  • April’s perspective is really interesting because I didn’t realize just how big of a star she’d become before the president told her how it would be a joy to watch her big future.
  • Seeing your own faults and behaviour through other’s eyes suck and it’s part of why April is running from Maya I guess. Relatable.
  • “Call Me Maybe” started playing, I squealed with glee and horror. I love the pop teen songs in this. My heart. They sound so omnious too.
  • I was aware she would die, she says so early on in the book. p.16’s “That night was probably the best night’s sleep I had until after I died.” Which hints that there was a thing after she died as well, so I kept my hopes up
  • Ok, my love for Maya was strengthened by the fact that she had to go on a pilgrimage after April’s accident. And even more Andy staying. Aahh, I really liked these characters.

There’s a sequel coming being currently written, which I didn’t know going into it. The ending was very open, but I had no problem with it. If there was no sequel, I would’ve taken my immediate theory of  April being uploaded to a computer-mind of sorts. That she still lives, but outside of a body. I don’t know if there’s evidence of that yet as I haven’t read theories. Also I’m not sure that she’s completely herself towards the end. I feel there might’ve been a shift, of Carl taking more control or sharing more with her or maybe just more a natural “losing herself”, but haven’t looked too much into it yet.

I loved it: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green | Review

Pages: 350

Genre: contemporary, sci-fi

Synopsis

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.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

fem

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!