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A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green - Book Club Review

Book Review (no spoilers) and Book Club Discussion Questions

If you are like me and would rather watch a video review than read one, skip to the bottom.  I got you covered.😉

I loved this book so much more than the first The Carls book! The first book was called... A...Truly Remarkable Thing? An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? Yes, that's it. I can NEVER remember. It's right up there with Us Against Them or wait....Us Against You but Fredrik Backman. I just can't remember! Anyways, for those of you who haven't read Hank Green's debut novel, here is a brief history of Carl.

Twenty-three year old April May comes across a giant metal statue/sculpture on the sidewalk of New York City and takes a video with it. It turns out that these mysterious statues/sculptures have appeared in cities all over the world. No one knows where they came from, what they are, or what they are made of, but because April May was the first person to document them, she is shot into internet stardom. Now, the world is watching her while she figures out what the Carls are and what they want.

Okay, so that's the basics. I didn't want to give away any spoilers but you can read what #bestbookclub thought here.

After reading AART, Carl became our official book club mascot. Everyone even got their very own Carl for Christmas (Click Here to get your own Carl). So, to celebrate the release of ABFE and to celebrate our very successful book club and amazing friendships, we got Carl tattoos. Not everyone wanted to tattoo their body which is perfectly acceptable, but we are still waiting on two more gals to join us in tattooed Carl world. WE LOVE THEM

Now, onto A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.

What It's About

After the untimely death of April May, the Carls disappear without a trace. Her friends, Andy, Maya and Miranda, are left grappling with the loss of their friend along with their newfound stardom while the world struggles to adjust to a post Carl/The Dream world. When someone offers an alternative to The Dream and promises to give some of that magic back, the group must look at the intentions and the consequences the technology could have on the world as they work to save humanity.

Socially Distanced Book Club

What We Thought

We loved it. It’s not often that a sequel outshines the original book but 2020 seems to be the year for it. This book was written from multiple character point of views which was really nice because the first book was all from April May‘s POV which was a bit much as her personality wasn’t exactly...likeable. Hank Green did a fantastic job building a world that is both present but modern and also wholly believable in a Black Mirror-esque type way. He also brought forth a lot of current real life issues that are happening in the world right now and presented them perfectly. He writes about racism, political angst, climate change and he wrote the book to be very LGBTQ friendly and even had an instance of using they/them pronouns (even if it wasn’t in reference to a person who identifies as non binary but it was still great) - what more can we ask for?

The story is full of action and science awhile also being clever and hilarious. I wasn’t a Green fan before (even after AART) but I definitely am now though I am ashamed to say that unlike everyone else in book club (and perhaps the world), I have not read a single John Green book. I’m covering my eyes in shame. BUT! I have listened to his podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed (excellent podcast BTW) so I think that redeems me a little bit. I will now make it a point to read one of his novels in the near future, but which one? Everyone says Looking for Alaska.

ABFE is eerily relevant to the events going on in the world today by talking about pandemics, isolation, New York and economic fallout. Hank actually made a YouTube video that addresses this very thing and he swears that this book was written pre-Covid and by that time it was too late to change anything so he couldn't even if her wanted to. Also, speaking of The Anthropocene Reviewed, there is an episode that was recorded before Covid that speaks very, again eerily, in a way that is relevant to what was about to happen to world. They are worth a watch and a listen so follow the links and do it. I don’t know. Maybe the Green brothers have some premonitory type power. or perhaps they just have their own Book of Good Times.

Discussion Questions

1. What did you think of the changing POV’s in this novel? Whose was your favourite to read? Why?

2. How did your feelings about the Carls change (or not change) over the course of this book?

3. Have the events of “The Carl books” impacted the way you interact with or use social media?

4. There are many parallel’s in the book to today’s current events. What are some you noticed? What real life issues were addressed in the book?

5. Let’s talk about Altus. Is this technology you can see happening? How do you think humanity would react to this kind of tech becoming available? Would you use it?

6. What parts of the book do you think could happen in real life?

7. We didn’t really get to know Carls brother. Why do you think that is?

8. The character of Peter Petrawiki is definitely a villain in the story. How do you feel about his choices? Can you understand why he would make those choices, and in a similar situation what would you have done differently?

9. What are some of the changes to April May in this book? How are your feelings different or the same? (Aka, is she still the worst?)

10. What did you think of the ending? How do you feel about Hank Green leaving this series as a duology?

This is my good friend Shanna of Vellum and Vellichor. She makes really great videos, so check her out!

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