TL;DR Rating 5/5: The first thing I’m going to tell you about reading A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green is you must read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing first. While the first book had to stand on its own, being published in 2018, both books absolutely and beautifully go together. I’ve read some excellent books (To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Rebel Sisters, Sandman) and I’ve read some really fun fast-paced books (Annette Marie’s Guild Codex series, Random Shit Flying Through the Air). But An Absolutely Remarkable Thing & A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor tells an important story. The first book leans more on character development with the science fiction element as a backdrop, whereas A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor successfully combines both. This is a story about today’s social media society, the internet, and how power dynamics work in the 21st century. The 1st book is one voice, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor tells its story from the voices of all the supporting characters POV and it absolutely works. The creative science fiction, the interesting main characters, and the obvious commentary on where we are and the possibilities and where society can go is smartly written, amazingly spot on and a story I’m going to urge every human being possible to read ASAP. This story is a must-read, period.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – About that God myth
I wonder if Hank Green knows he wrote a story that created an interesting God myth. When you read A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor you’ll understand what I’m saying, if not by the middle then certainly by the end. While I was caught up on the story, the danger, and how each character narrated things from their view it hit me like lightning when I realized that this story absolutely created an interesting god myth. While A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor can stand up as a unique piece of science fiction with an interesting first-contact story, it also gives you pause on exactly how dangerous a “supreme being” could really be. This is not a question of if God does or does not exist, but so few people consider the extreme implications of what it actually means should such a being existed. And let’s be honest, no one can say for certain such a being does not exist. We know so little about the universe and the more we learn the weirder and stranger and far more mysterious. The author chooses to give the Carls a voice. Jarring at first but as the story builds to the climax it seemed to be an absolutely interesting climax that ends on a positive note, to a point. Because God is watching and making a list and checking it a trillion times.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – A Progressive Endeavor
Let’s get this out the way. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is a progressive story. And it’s quotable. Some of the lines in this book should be Memes. (I’m totally going to make my own Memes if someone doesn’t do it first.) This is the kind of writing that makes you go “I wish I had written that.” This is another reason you have to read both books to understand the themes and messages the author says. Some people might accuse him of hitting you over the head with his themes. I promise you those are the same people who justify letting a rapist on the supreme court or support a president openly trying to steal an election. So let’s be honest, those assholes simply don’t count. In my review of the 1st book, I clearly stated there were two places where Hank Green gave a “Both Side-ism” argument. I don’t believe in the “both sides have equal promises” argument as clearly one side does not drive cars into crowds of those who don’t agree with them, and both sides philosophies absolutely never end on members of that side going into schools or clubs or public spaces and firing assault rifles. However, one of those arguments was absolutely important to movie the 1st book towards its conclusion, and the second book makes it clear that this is not a “both sides” argument. This is how much Hank Green managed to weave into this incredible story that turns into a mirror into the problems and beauty of Pop Culture. That’s why this book Is important. Hank Green’s duology is a book for a generation everyone should read.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – Voices
Okay, and minor spoiler here. There came a point in A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor where Hand Green seemed to veer into “the black character always dies to motivate the white character into action” trope. However, that particular incident in the book was necessary to give scope to the story. And as you hear the various elements of the story told from each voice you understand the sense of what this story is trying – no, successfully saying. This is the way fiction, especially science fiction, should be, a commentary on our lives. A Dark Mirror about what human beings are becoming and what they can become. There hyper positive moments that are not “pull that plot point from your ass moments. They are logical steps towards the ending and the hope and positive feeling for where people can go and what societies can be is the best part of this book. Maya was my favorite voice, and you KNOW I come done hard on white writers and their black characters. (Legend Born got so close but that “black girl chases the white boy” trope was annoying the living fuck out of me. And the African Mythology being treated as something less sinister than white supermen who take over teenager’s bodies, just because we’re two annoying things about that storyline.) Here April May and Maya’s relation was believable and Hand Green found a way to giving a human voice to the 90210 black characters. My other favorite was Miranda. I like her voice, her science geek, her imposter syndrome felt real and well thought out and her story wasn’t just a “save the damsel” thing. Miranda took an active role in solving the main conflict.
These books, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing & A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, are almost the best book (meaning I just finished A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor). No seriously, there is good reason To Sleep in a Sea of Stars gets that spot (so far). A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is about big ideas that could be if one looked at the human condition as objectively as one can. It does set a clear line between good and evil and frankly, the author is right. It’s voice and pacing work well to make this a page-turner, the characters are AWESOME and the ending is exactly what I needed after living through 2020. These books are medicine for the soul of our lives in this time and this place. If these books are not in the top 100 classics there’s just something wrong with whoever makes that list. You will not regret reading A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor or An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.