A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor
Author: Hank Green
Series: The Carls, #2
Page Count: 449
Original Publication Date: 2020
Genre(s): New adult, Science fiction, Contemporary
It’s been months since the Carls have disappeared—and April May along with them. Most people think she’s dead, but her friends still have hope. Especially when they start receiving mysterious books that seem to predict the future. Andy has since become somewhat internet famous himself, speaking at conferences and online about the post-Carl world. Maya spends most of her time grieving April, researching conspiracy theories that she hopes will lead her to her missing/possibly dead ex-girlfriend. And Miranda buries herself in her studies, until she decides to take a dangerous risk…in the name of science. But with the help of these books, their lives start to converge once more, and they become integral to saving all of humanity.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor was absolutely one of my most-anticipated books of the year. Though I wasn’t able to go on the book tour like I did for An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (thanks, COVID), I did preorder a signed copy to match my copy of book 1. AART was my favorite book of 2018, so the hype was real for the sequel.
The story is told in first-person POV with alternating perspective chapters. This time around, the story begins with Andy, Maya, and Miranda, and we follow their lives post-Carl and without April. Later on in the book, a couple more perspectives are added to the rotation, but I’ll leave those as a surprise for you.
I’m not going to lie—I was, at first, very let down with this book. The first 150 pages left me very…underwhelmed? It didn’t feel like AART, and that’s what I was expecting, so maybe that’s part of why I felt so disappointed. But it was also kind of slow, and I’m very partial to April despite her shortcomings, so not having her perspective really threw me off and was not what I was looking for. Not that I don’t love her friends, I do! Maya and Miranda especially. And I enjoyed reading from their perspectives, and I liked that Green actually flushes out each character so they are all unique and likable and have a voice. But…it’s not April!!!
Eventually, though, the story did pick up, and it was everything I was hoping for. Tons of action, plenty of social commentary, lots of save-the-world drama. Some laughs, a little romance. Really a fascinating book, though a little different from the feel of AART. In AART, though there is commentary, I focused a lot more on the story itself, the action and sci-fi element. This time around, the action is constantly being slowed down by critique on the economy, media, capitalism, social media, technology, human nature, and so much more. This slowing down was not a bad thing, it was just a heavy thing, so prepare for that. I was not prepared. Green kind of amps up his real-world commentary in this book, but it didn’t bog down the story because it was nicely paced with the action of the story, after the first hundred pages or so (which were slow to me but maybe not for you!)
Also, did anyone else feel like Green himself received a future-predicting book when we was writing ABFE??? Like, how was this book not written during the pandemic. There’s a lot of little pieces I picked up on that were extremely relevant to what’s going on literally right now. I guess you could argue these things have always been going on, we just notice them more, and that could be true. But also, Hank, if Carl is talking to you through a magic book…blink twice…
I very much liked this book, though it did have a different feel to it than AART. And that’s okay! Because they are separate books, just part of the same story. Once the action picked up, I was on the edge of my seat until the last page. I could not get enough of it. I really love Green’s writing and didn’t want it to end. My only complaints are that the beginning didn’t really capture my attention, and also that Robin didn’t get more of a prominent role in this book! Just small things, really, in comparison to my love for this book, this story in general. Congrats, Hank, on a remarkable, beautiful story.
Side note: I read this before bed last night and the night before, and I legit DREAMT of Carl and book-esque events, so like, thanks for making my nights really weird, Hank.
ALSO before I go, is this a TFIOS parody quote????????
“Their voice came out of the watch, slow and then all at once, like ketchup.”
–“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.”
–“Our reality isn’t about what’s real, it’s about what we pay attention to.”
–“The most impactful thing you can do with power is almost always to give it away.”