FICTION

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green****

(Trapeze, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99).

YOUTUBER Hank Green's debut novel is part millennial social commentary, part sci-fi novel. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is both completely realistic and utterly fantastical, while managing to touch on some incredibly deep themes, including gender, the internet, fame and humanity. Green's first-hand knowledge of YouTube fame and fortune gives complete authenticity to the protagonist - 23-year-old April May, who is the first to discover one of 64, 10-ft-tall sculptures (named Carl) that suddenly appear on Earth. The novel follows April as she shoots to internet, and then worldwide fame, and has to deal with everything that comes with that - not to mention what the Carls are and what they're doing here. It's an adventure that starts off with excitement, and ends with a lot of questions, about love, life, the media, and what's beyond Earth.

Rebecca Wilcock

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks***

(HQ, priced £7.99 (ebook £5.99)

MELANIE is delighted when her old university friend Abigail gets back in touch after 17 years. Childless Abigail is a glamorous, successful TV presenter, while working mum Melanie feels dowdy and boring, although she's happy enough with her suburban life, three children and a handsome husband. The title of Adele Parks' latest novel makes it clear from the start that devious Abigail is not the long lost friend Melanie hopes for and her life is about to be turned upside down. But the lack of surprises from the fast-paced plot does not make this novel any less enjoyable for those seeking a fun, easy read. Melanie and her family are believable characters and, while Abigail is larger than life, she never quite falls into the trap of becoming too much like a panto villain. A really fun read to liven up a dull commute, or to take on holiday.

Beverley Rouse

French Exit by Patrick deWitt**

(Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £16.99 (ebook £14.99)

I WANTED to think highly of Patrick deWitt's satirical tale of two super-rich New Yorkers fallen on hard times. It starts well: 'Black Widow' Frances Price and her feckless son Malcolm are established as being so wealthy they are above the laws and social obligations that shackle the rest of us. But when, instead of finding jobs, the noxious pair sail for France on a luxury liner my irritation set in. Though I'll buy deWitt's argument that when the rich become poor, their poverty isn't like the destitution experienced by, well, the migrants he depicts suffering police brutality in a Parisian park. Frequently, instead of a plausible narrative we are given random-seeming encounters with bizarre minor characters. By a bit of doubling back, the talented and ingenious deWitt eventually lassoes them all into his Wes Anderson-style plot. But his increasing surreal devices do include a spirit-infested cat...

Liz Ryan