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Summary

The magnificent sequel to Hank Green's number one New York Times best-selling debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

The statues disappeared in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. They also contributed to the untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into their path, naming them the Carls and gaining viral fame in an avalanche of conspiracy theories.

When April's friends try to carry on with their lives, a series of clues arrive - mysterious books that seem to predict the future - and which also seem to suggest April may be very much alive...But there's a bigger mystery to solve.

Did the Carls ever really leave us, and what happens if they're here to stay?

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is a bold and brilliant conclusion that asks whether anyone has the right to change the world.

©2020 Hank Green (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"A raucous, boldly inventive tale." (Booklist)

"Provides a "Black Mirror"-like warning of new technology without the heavy feeling of dread." (Usa Today)

What listeners say about A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor

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fantastic tale!

what a beautifully remarkable second act. Plenty twist and turns and so very cleverly composed.

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Such a beautiful book

Made sneaking my earpods into work 100% worth it! The narration was wonderful, I loved the different narrators. I enjoyed the plot and themes, it was my first foray into modern science fiction and I'm already on the search for more. Thank you Hank Green and all the brilliant narrators!

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Just sit back and listen

clever
smart
too real
and beautiful
if you enjoyed the first one then listen to the second one.

2 people found this helpful

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A beautifully poignant critique of society

I absolutely loved this series, and I can’t believe I didn’t listen to it until now. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet. Maybe the book would only make the most impact on my life if I listened to it at this time. It has fundamentally changed how I see the world, and while I’d normally be quick to point out how flawed humans are, and how dangerous we are while we wield power, this series has given me some hope; even optimism.

I’m taking off one point from performance because I sometimes struggled to remember who was speaking; as some of the cast have very similar voices, though this was a very minor issue. Overall, it’s still a 5 star experience for me.

I also HAVE to give kudos to Hank for writing a non-binary character that felt entirely natural within a story. I don’t just mean that he chose his words right; he did, but that he wrote in a canonical explanation for the use of their pronouns that even made it sensible to people who don’t interact with non-binary folk, and then never mentioned it again! As soon as I noticed that’s what had happened, I literally shed a tear. Bravo!

I give A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, and Hank Green, 5/5 stars

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Great production and excellent narrators

I loved all the different narrators. The production value of this audiobook is really high, and I liked hearing from so many different characters and that they each have their own narrator. The story drew me in straight away and I loved seeing how Hank Green wrapped up April and Carl's story. Like the first book, it's really thought-provoking and makes some very insightful points about how social media and the internet have shaped our culture today.

The worst part of this audiobook was the conversation with Cory Doctorow at the end. I looked forward to hearing Hank's insights and thoughts about the book, but he barely spoke. It's not a conversation - Cory Doctorow barely gave the AUTHOR OF THE BOOK a moment to get a word in and speak about the book HE WROTE. It was like a 45-minute-long "this is more of a comment than a question" on the part of the interviewer. Super, super obnoxious.

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Incredibly interesting and satisfying sequel

I guess the main thing to say is that I just really love this book and I think you, whoever you are reading this review, should read it too. The themes of this book have never been more relevant and they make you think but without sacrificing any of the entertainment value and incredible character development. I think one of the things that makes Hank Green such a great author is that he really lives in the nuance. This is the kind of book where there is no “right answer” but gives you ways to think about the world and current / future technology and society. I know I’m going to think about this book for a long time.

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All round brilliance

Not only was this a really compelling story that maintained the same tight pace as its predecessor, the performance by every voice actor was spot on down to the last detail. I particularly enjoyed the way each evoked the others' performances when retelling other characters' words. A really nice touch that shows the attention to detail that has gone into this audiobook.

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brilliant end to it all

have listened to both books, refreshing story and very good narrations.

love it!

I would definitely recommend.

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If you liked the first one, avoid this

I loved An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I was understandably excited to listen to this. Imagine my disappointment by the end.

It feels like Hank Green was forced to write a sequel he didn't want to write, so he made up a bunch of nonsense to fill a second book, without giving anything much thought. But of course that's not true, because he wanted to write a sequel all along, given how he ended the first one. I would honestly prefer this book to be a lazy cash grab sequel; at least then it has a reason to be bad. But it's a true expression of Hank Green's imagination. Which makes me doubt his ability to write.

The most telling thing about this book is my subconscious reaction to listening to it. I wanted to keep listening to the first book so much that I sat at my desk for 4 hours to listen to the last part of the book. In contrast, every time I continued listening to this one, I felt no curiosity or desire to keep going.

The plot is not interesting. There were points in it with potential for a great twist, but Hank Green does not take these opportunities. Twice in the book he reveals a terrible secret which would make an amazing twist, but then a few chapters later he makes up some reason why the secret doesn't matter. Why include them in the first place? Why write the book in such a way to make the reader read it as a big twist and then back out immediately?

The first half of the book is about how the characters deal with the death of April May. There's some interesting insights into the characters but it feels like Hank Green forgot all of it in the second half because everyone acts pretty much the same as in the first book. So all of the character development in the first half is meaningless and it's just a set up for the second half. And the second half isn't even good.

The main goal of the characters is clear and set out early, which is good, but you have no reason to care, because the book never gives you a reason to dislike the main villain. And the method by which they defeat the villain is boring and a let-down.

I see other reviews praising the social and political commentary. I didn't even consider it commentary because of how obvious it was. Granted, I've read a few books about this stuff, so I'm not the average reader of this book. Even if the commentary is fantastic, which I find hard to believe, a good moral is not enough to save a bad plot. A story is first and foremost, well, a story. I didn't come here to be lectured about society. I came here for a sequel to that fantastic story I just read.

This book just doesn't have a reason to exist. I can excuse a bad book if it excels in a certain area. If a book has a terrible plot but it's hilarious, then that doesn't matter. If the character development is bad but it has a message that sticks with you, then that was worth your time. If the message is confused but you loved the main character and their arc, then that's something to remember. But this book has nothing.

The badness of this book made me reconsider my liking of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I am beginning to think that that one was mediocre as well, and I only liked it because of how addicting it was. At least that one had a compelling mystery. I wish I hadn't read this one, so I could continue to think An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was really remarkable, instead of having a creeping suspicion about its actual quality. If you liked the first one, don't read this one.

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amazing

Such a good book, would highly recommend. A really engaging story and the narration made it even better.

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  • Michael Flattery
  • 05-09-20

Must listen for the social media age!

Funny, engaging and thought-provoking, this was very clearly written by someone who has been immersed in everything "online". This book feels like it contains a concentrated distillation of our times - or at least those times before things were disrupted - and it really felt like reading the perspectives of people from the present. The ideas raised are worth thinking about and this handles them well. The narration is excellent, even at irregular segments.

If you felt that in "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" the more typically science fiction aspects could have been more prominent then you'll be glad to hear that there is plenty of that here. While the idea of fame and influence are still important here, "A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour" is more concerned with how systems organise power, influence and incentives. I'd say this is a somewhat more explicitly political book.

Characters we grew to know in the first book are now POV characters it feels immediately comfortable to be seeing through their eyes. Each of these characters feels like a person and a person that you know and like as the book proceeds. The April we see here is, understandably, changed but she still feels like herself.

Pacing was good throughout as mysteries, answers and obstacles keep appearing along the path. Ending felt less like a climax and more like a release. While this felt appropriate, it could maybe have had some elements ramped up a bit more - but that's a minor gripe.

Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-20

I didn’t think it would get better, but it did.

Listening to this during the pandemic, was stressful and it filled me with hope. Man, I hope that hope is not misplaced.

I love both Hanks books.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-08-20

A great follow-up

A great follow up to the first book, pickin up right where he left you in the first.

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  • Louis Schultz
  • 20-07-20

What an amazing book!!!

This is the first book that I finnished since lockdown started and I could not put it down. I would absolutely recommend it to everyone to read.

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  • Adam
  • 08-07-20

Thank You Hank!

Eerily reflective of modern society while posing important questions about what might come next, the actions we should take, and the possible effects those actions might have.

Fantastic book, and clearly a lot of thought has gone in to the narration.