“You will always struggle with not feeling productive until you accept that your own joy can be something you produce. It is not the only thing you will make, nor should it be, but it is something valuable and beautiful.” ~ Hank Greene, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
Page count: 449
Published by Dutton, 2020
Genre: Fiction, sci-fi
Rating: Indiana’s: 4.5 out of 5 stars Pete’s: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: While it’s a fantastic story, we think most of the fun lies in the discovery of the mysteries and it might not do well on a re-read.
Synopsis from the publisher:
The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While the robots were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction with only their presence. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.
Months later, April’s friends are trying to find their footing in a post-Carl world. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda is contemplating defying her friends’ advice and pursuing a new scientific operation…one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension. Just as it is starting to seem like the gang may never learn the real story behind the events that changed their lives forever, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers—all of which seems to suggest that April could be very much alive.
In the midst of the search for the truth and the search for April is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It is a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions about the way we live, our freedoms, our future, and how we handle the unknown.
Indiana: Somehow this follow-up was weirder than the first and I mean that in the best way. It had a similar flavor but really took all the seeds that were planted in the first one and really cultivated them.
Pete: The shift from a single protagonist to multiple perspectives from several protagonists was different and really well done. I was satisfied with the ending of the first book (despite the obvious cliffhanger), but Green did an excellent job of naturally continuing the story and raising the stakes without losing sights of his characters.
Indiana: Agreed, if anything I feel like I know them all much better now and it was refreshing to not have everything be narrated by April. He also did a great job exploring how the world would react once it had been rocked by something like The Carls. We’re seeing that a bit with the pandemic: something that each person seems to be impacted differently by.
Pete: How nice it would be to be visited by The Carls instead of COVID-19… but yes, the ripples and impacts of the lack of Carls (and the Dream) are convincing and fascinating. It really feels like these events transformed the world. One thing that stood out to me about the sequel (and was a welcome change) was the introduction of multiple ongoing mysteries rather than one big mystery. There was so much to take in, and any individual plotline—Altus, the Book of Good Times, and some other things I won’t share to avoid spoilers—could have stood on its own as a book premise. But instead, he included all of them and found a way to mesh them naturally with the several character arcs.
Indiana: Right, these were all mysteries that an author could have filled probably an entire book with but he packed everything into one, which I think made the book stronger. Now, obviously we don’t want to give any of the mysteries away, but do you think there’ll be a third one?
Pete: Probably not… Of course, now I completely trust him to pull it off if he wants to continue the story, but I’m happy with this remaining an extremely weird and fun duology that’s unlike anything I’ve read before.