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A Buzz Worthy Read: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

9 Sep

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the new book A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green. I knew it was a sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, which has been on my to-read list for a while, so I decided to finally cross that book off my list.

I was honestly surprised at how good this book was! An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is the story of April May, a young woman who becomes viral on Youtube after filming her encounter with a large statue she names Carl. It turns out that there is much more to Carl that meets the eye, as several Carls turn up around the world and they are made of a material
whose properties make absolutely no sense on planet Earth.

The story is an impressive description of what happens to people on social media. It accurately describes how social media exacerbates certain human emotions: the need for attention, the need to be liked and seen, the need for validation, the need to be right. It demonstrates the destructive nature of it, but Green also demonstrates how it can be used to bring people together. The tension felt throughout the book is that of hope vs fear.

And it’s no surprise that the world of internet fame is so well-described一the author is one-half of the famous Vlogbrothers Youtube channel which he shares with his brother, John Green (yes, that John Green), and the brains behind many other projects such as the CrashCourse channels, SciShow, etc. But don’t let his online persona or his association with his brother affect your view of this story. I must make this clear: This is NOT a John Green book, nor does it cater to the same audience. Hank Green very much has his own voice, and frankly, it’s one worth reading/listening to without needing to compare it to his brother’s.

I’m very much looking forward to checking out A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, although first, I need to recover from the emotional hangover An Absolutely Remarkable Thing left me with!

Written by:
Sam Evaristo
Circulation Assistant, Grand St. Branch

Not Just a Classic Murder Mystery: The Outsider

26 Aug

The Outsider, by Stephen King, opens up as a classic murder mystery. Except the stakes are so much higher. The victim is an 11-year-old boy, Frank Peterson, who has been raped, killed and partially cannibalized. Based on eyewitness testimony, all signs point to his straight-as-an-arrow Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the killer.

Maitland denies his involvement, attorneys up, and puts forth his verifiable alibi, also involving some rock-solid witnesses. Well, a person can’t be in two places at the same time, can they?

Detective Ralph Anderson has doubts about Maitland, since he knows him personally. Maitland coached Anderson’s son, and previous to this accusal has proved to be an upstanding and honorable member of the community.

The reader doesn’t know what to believe, this being a Stephen King novel where supernatural occurrences are a bit of a given. There are inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimony that are problematic, but not deal killers.

Trouble ensues. (no spoilers!) Further “double” homicides occur that may have a connection to the Frank Peterson incident. The authorities begin looking beyond their own backyard, so to speak.

The supernatural element gets more pronounced. A young woman, Holly Gibney, becomes involved in the investigation. Holly, a character in King’s Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finder’s Keepers, and End of Watch) takes over the second half of the book as she tries to unravel what happened.

As with all the Stephen King books I’ve read, King manages to engage the reader. Maybe you’ve dismissed Stephen King by labelling him as a genre writer, maybe too “pop culture” for your tastes. It’s true King likes to add elements of popular culture that will resonate with readers – Little League, Pop Warner football, Jitterbug phones, and more. He almost uses those as a kind of shorthand to say he’s hip to American life. Part of the appeal of King is that he does resonate. And he does make you turn the pages at a clip.

I admit some of the supernatural elements in this particular book are a bit much. The considerable appeal of Stephen King is that he can make you suspend your natural aversion to the inexplicable and construct a fictional world that is believable within the confines of its own universe.

If you are ready to escape into a fictional world that can take your mind to a scary place that you know ultimately is not real, I recommend you give Stephen King a try. You can read another post about King’s work, The Gunslinger, here.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Information and Digital Services Librarian

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