An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

>> Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TITLE: An Abundance of Katherines
AUTHOR: John Green

PAGES: 228

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: YA fiction

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washedup child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun-but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
In An Abundance of Katherines, Colin Singleton, a former child prodigy, decides to go on a road trip with his best friend, Hassan, after being dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine (we're talking about 19 different Katherines here, not about a single Katherine dumping him 19 times, which would have been bad enough). They end up in a place called Gutshot, in Tennessee, which you'd expect to be the worst possible place they could end up. You'd be surprised.

This was quirky and funny and I enjoyed it. Colin's a bit of a dork and he can get annoying, but I get the feeling Green knows that perfectly well, and he makes sure we readers never get too much of the self-absorbed sulking. How? Well, the fantastic, amazing Hassan, with his Dingleberries and his Thunderstick (you'll have to read this). He was hilarious, and in a way that had me laughing with him, not at him.

I also liked that the people of Gutshot were refreshingly non-stereotypical. I mean, if I tell you: Gutshot, Tennessee, population 800+, what do you assume? Racist rednecks? So do Colin and Hassan, actually (so much so that part of Hassan's introduction with the first few people he meets is "I'm not a terrorist"). But this is absolutely and completely not the case, and the locals turn out to be very non-rednecky (well, except for the hog hunting, which was hilarious). People are mostly nice, actually, maybe except for the jerk jock character, but that's believable enough.

This is not really a plot-driven book. It concentrates fully on our characters, which I didn't mind at all. It's also very dialogue-intensive, something I found enjoyable, except for the coupld of instances when I had trouble identifying who was talking.

The only weak spot is that I didn't completely buy Colin as a genius. His eureka moment (from the appendix "that relationships can be graphed, that graphs come from functions, and that it might be possible to study all such functions at once, with a single (very complicated) formula, in such a way that would enable him to predict when (and more importantly, wether) any prospective Katherine would dump him") was a bit silly and the idea nothing new. I have absolutely nothing against expressing daily life in equations - in fact, that's what microeconomics has become lately. I've spent my entire university career expressing real life in formulae, doing just what Colin was attempting to do, so this not only didn't impress me, it sounded like quite a silly example of what can be quite a useful tool.

Still, all in all, a fun, quick read.



Marg 20 June 2012 at 12:32  

I only read my first John Green earlier this year, but I do intend to read more in due course! This is one book that has been recommended as my next read quite a few times.

Darlynne,  20 June 2012 at 16:32  

Sounds great. I'll have to take a look. Thank you!

Rosario 21 June 2012 at 06:44  

Marg: I'm not a big YA reader, but I read one every now and then, and this was a good one. I tend to like the ones that aren't really romances better, I think.

Darlynne: Hope you like it!

Loraine 28 June 2012 at 09:47  

Nice review :) Here's mine: Have a nice day!

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