Hank Green’s debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, comes highly expected to his many fans. Hank is well known for his work with online educational resources like Crash Course and SciShow, and his music career with the band Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing opens late at night, with April May, an overworked tech startup employee, making a nifty discovery of a giant robot statue sitting in the streets of New York. April calls her friend Andy, and together they document this discovery of what they think is public art for the internet (where else?). Next morning, they awaken to discover that Carl, as they nicknamed the giant statue, has a corresponding twin in many cities all around the world. All appeared without any warning, in the dead of the night, and all have no apparent purpose or function. April and Andy find themselves flung into fame, as their video suddenly goes viral around the world. What follows is a tumultuous journey to discover more about the purpose of the Carls, and a ride through the ups and downs of stardom as April grapples with who she is in the face of so much attention.
Green’s writing style is straightforward and works through the narration of April’s thoughts well. Green’s storytelling is fantastic, and I found that the premise – and the development of the characters – were well executed. Readers familiar with Green’s brother, John Green, also an author, should note that the writing styles of the two are very different, and that Hank’s novel is geared more towards adults rather than more of a teen audience.
You can find An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in the library here. It is also available as an audiobook or e-book.
- Joseph, Information Services
What We're Watching
directed by Mike Newell
Cue a rainy London morning in the 1920’s complete with umbrellas. Inside we look into the dreary dining rooms of two different couples, both obviously unhappy. Filmmaker, Mike Newell, enhanced this mood and setting with an antique light filter illuminating the story originally written for print by Elizabeth von Arnim.
The wives from the dining rooms featured are Lottie (Josie Lawrence) and Rose (Miranda Richardson). They are understandably looking to escape their dull, damp lives and decide to rent an Italian villa. The screen is immediately filled with Italy in all its’ wonderful sunshine and iconic flowers like asters and wisteria. Such a rich contrast from London! How fitting the villa used in the film is the one in Portofino where von Arnim wrote the book. Its beauty only adds to the storyline and the characters.
Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), an aging widow, along with Lady Caroline (Polly Walker) a gorgeous but jaded aristocrat, join Lottie and Rose, helping to offset the costs of renting. The story takes some interesting twists as first, the villa’s owner comes to stay mistakenly thinking Rose is a war widow. Then Rose’s husband shows up looking for Caroline whom he met recently in London. Sit back and enjoy the journey as these well-portrayed characters come to healing and self-awareness in the midst of such striking cinematography.
Big tells the story of Josh Baskin, a thirteen-year-old boy living in a New York suburb. Like all kids his age, Josh is caught up in the awkward time of transitioning from a child to an adolescent. At a local carnival one night, he gets denied entry to a ride for not being “big” enough, in front of a girl he has a crush on.
After he storms away, he stumbles upon an arcade machine that grants wishes. Josh puts in a quarter and wishes to be big. The next morning, he finds he now has the body of an adult, played by Tom Hanks. He tries to tell his mother what happened, but of course she doesn’t believe him and chases him from the house, so he goes to the city in an effort to track down the machine and wish himself back to normal.
This is one of my all-time favourite films, and something I feel Hollywood doesn’t make any more: a sweet, charming movie for adults. It’s not a sappy love story, it’s not preachy, it’s not trying to be too clever. It is excellent storytelling of a difficult time in life that we’ve all been through anchored by a pitch-perfect portrayal from Hanks. He delivers the whimsy of a child when faced with some adult situations and the angst when those situations are too much for him. I think it’s his finest performance, better than the two times he won the Oscar. He makes you really believe he’s a kid in a man’s body.
Big is a wonderful movie built around a stellar performance by Tom Hanks, and is, in my mind, a true classic.
When I started this book, I felt like sometimes there were unnecessary explanations and descriptions of the minutiae of these opulent lifestyles. By the end of the book I had grown to really appreciate this attention to detail. There was such a complete picture of this family and their lives that provided a greater understanding for someone like me, who has no concept of life at that economic level. I appreciated the depth of his characterization for all of the characters, not just the protagonist. You could tell that the author cared about every single character in his book, and afforded them equal care and consideration. The plot had a good blend of a faerie tale feel and realism. While it seemed very fantastic to have a regular girl pulled into her boyfriend's life of crazy rich people, the way it was handled all felt very real and probable. All the characters faced hardships that were not always surmountable.
The movie, as it's own separate entity, was enjoyable. But for me it felt more loosely based on the book. The names and major events were mostly the same, but the feel of the story was very different. The movie really hammed some things up and pushed it to be more of a comedy than the book was. I know movies can't include everything from the book and still be viable. Some changes they made, like the fusion of two of the girls who antagonize Rachel, made a lot of sense to me. Other changes felt out of place in the story and I found myself wondering why those changes were made at all. It was a fun movie, but the story wasn't as rich (pun 100% intended) as the world the book created. I think the movie is better enjoyed as its own entity, without trying to compare it to the source material.
I would suggest watching the movie first. The book will expand on things you see in the movie, and sometimes go in a different direction. I liked the story much better in the book and would rather have finished with that than the film. Crazy Rich Asians was a splendid story and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
You can borrow the bookor the movie from the library.
- Ashley, Information Services
Kitchener Public Library 85 Queen St. North Kitchener, Ontario N2H2H1 519-743-0271 http://www.kpl.org/