I can honestly say I have never read a book like this before. As such, I have had a hard time writing this review because it defies most categories. Is this book comedy? Satire? Science-Fiction? Horror? It has all these elements but manages to tell a cohesive story that kept me intrigued until the very end, even though I had no idea where the story was going most of the time. I even struggled with figuring out what this book was actually about. Despite this confusion, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the recently announced sequel.
So what is this hard to describe book about? It starts with twenty-something April May walking home from work one night when she suddenly sees a sculpture in the middle of the sidewalk that looks like a Transformer dressed like a samurai. Yes. That is actually how this book starts. She calls her friend Andy to help her make a quick video of her discovery, which he uploads to YouTube. April becomes a viral sensation overnight when it is revealed that identical sculptures have appeared out of nowhere in other cities and she was the first person to put something out there about them. There is no explanation as to where they came from or who created them. Due to the first video about Carl (as April has named him), people are looking to April as an authority on the sculptures and her life changes rapidly from a recent college grad to the number one person on social media. The book explores what happens when something goes viral and the consequences of a life lived in the spotlight, while also exposing the dark side of humanity.
There were times while reading this book that I was so perplexed by what I was reading that I had to stop for a few days before resuming my read. There is nothing too difficult to understand about what is happening in the book, but the bigger ideas that are presented were sometimes hard to grasp. Green seems to be asking the following questions over the span of 352 pages: what is art? What is fame? Why do we idolize certain people? How do we keep our humanity in a social media world? Who can we trust? These are all BIG questions to answer in a short amount of pages but, surprisingly, the book doesn’t seem to be muddled by them. These questions aren’t necessarily answered but left to the reader to decide. I thought the writing overall was pretty good, especially for a first time author, and the characters were enjoyable, even when April was making stupid decisions. There were times when I wanted to roll my eyes at her actions but felt her character was a pretty good representation of a 23 year old in today’s world. And just when I thought I knew how the book was going to end…the last paragraph happened and I said out loud “what the what?!?”
Overall, I enjoyed this book and Green’s writing style. I found myself a bit confused sometimes but kept reading and was glad I did. In the end, I don’t think the point of the book is to make perfect sense but rather to show the power of social media on today’s world.
Author: Hank Green
Rating: 4 Stars (rounded up)