This book is possibly the most relatable treatise on fame and the corrupting influence of needing approval, a subject near and dear to my heart. It is also a book about a giant alien robot. I love that both of those things are true.
April May is a hipster art-school graduate working in web design who stumbles across a giant robot sculpture in New York and, transfixed by its oddness, calls her friend to create a video of it for fun. She interviews “Carl,” the friend uploads the video to YouTube, and they expect to never think of it again. However, it turns out that there are “Carls” all over the world, which have appeared simultaneously overnight, and they defy known physics, suggesting they aren’t Terran in origin.
Somehow, improbably, the giant alien robot is not the most interesting part of the book, though it is quite interesting. The real drama is in April’s transformation from average millennial to the human who makes first contact with an alien species. As the first video of the Carls is more widely shared, she gains an internet following, and at first is amused by the attention and extra money. But soon, April’s extra money becomes life-changing money, and the internet famous changes to famous-famous. Her irreverence falls away and she comes to rely on the attention of fans and enemies alike, and Green writes of the addictive nature of notoriety far more elegantly than I do. The need for attention from strangers is contrasted with May’s difficulty with close interpersonal relationships; as she gets more and more famous, she connects with her friends and girlfriend less, and as the book progresses, the only one she considers unselfishly is Carl.
I cannot wait to read more from Green. Five stars.