This review will contain some minor spoilers, so stop here if you haven’t finished reading AART!
Okay, I admit I was willing to say nice things about this book no matter what as Hank Green is just a great all around human being and deserves your support, but I was actually really impressed by this debut novel.
I loved the extremely metaphorical, cutie-pie, earth invading robot Carls. As someone who is genuinely discouraged with state of current robot representation, I can assuredly say, these are the giant transformesque samurai armoured droids I’ve been looking for!
I really enjoy reading books that teach me knew things, challenge my thinking etc. as I go. This book did a lot of that.
I knew some political/social commentary would come into play, and at first I thought it was a little “too on the nose”, as an obvious parallel to the current american political climate. However, as the novel continued on the commentary became more and more complicated, and by the end it really challenged me to think more deeply about my role as individual in current politics.
Similarly, I shouldn’t have doubted a professional social media personality’s ability to school me in the effects of social media fame. Even since finishing AART I haven’t been able to share post, tweet or gram without asking myself am I a tool? a weapon in a war of ideologies? Is this post a cover mission? Or is this really me, being the best version of me I can be? In this age of social media, how can I be little more human, and little bit less of an internet personality.
I was not ready for April May to become the saviour of the human race? (I can not wait to see what happens with her in the sequel!) I am not always a fan of the protagonist speaking from the beyond throughout the novel, making commentary and such, but April, full of witticisms, was able to make comments that were fun and intriguing and made me want to know what happens next. Actually, I think what impressed me most was the page-turner-y-ness of the plot. I genuinely had a hard time setting the book down, staying up well past midnight to finish the last few chapters once I got close.
I want to give praise to Hank for including a bisexual main character. Bisexuals are drastically underrepresented in literature through all of history and today. According to the acknowledgements, Hank consulted with some friends to help provide a strong portrayal bisexuality. I can not speak to the accuracies of the portrayal myself, but would love to hear what you think of our hero April May!
I think this novel is also uniquely in that I could’t tell if I was reading YA or NA or Adult or Sci-Fi or Political Thriller or what. It kind of broke conventions, and just did its own thing. I liked that the story felt on display. Like it wasn’t being written for an audience, but was just being written to be told. That sounds a little cheesy, but that’s kind of how it felt.
All in all, I feel like AART is an artefact from our day. Like it was anthropological look at what human life is like in 2018, but also with Robots and grape jelly. A strong reminder that humanity is beautiful.
(Also: I liked what this reviewer had to say here)