Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: September 21, 2006
Source/Format: Library book!
Page Count: 215
Goodreads & Amazon

Colin Singelton is a former-child prodigy who is fluent in several languages, can anagram any word or phrase in seconds, and is always trying to find his 'Eureka!' moment. What he can't seem to find is a girl named Katherine who won't dump him. He's just been dumped by Katherine #19, and this is the one that hurts the most. To cheer him up, his friend Hassan drags him along on a road trip to break the monotony of Colin's Katherine problems. But all the road trip does is give him more time to dwell on where he has gone wrong with 19 Katherines, and The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability--a theorem he hopes will predict the future of any relationship--is born. With the help of Hassan, and a group of new friends he makes in Middle-of-Nowhere, TN, his most amazing 'Eureka' moment yet is just around the corner.

They listened to a country radio station turned up so loud that the twangs of steel guitars were distorted in the Hearse's old speakers. When they could catch on to the chorus, they sang loud and off-key and didn't give a shit. And it felt so good to sing with those trumped-up, hound-dog country accents. Colin felt sad, but it was an exhilarating and infinite sadness, like it connected him to Hassan and to the ridiculous songs and mostly to her, and Colin was shouting, "Like Strawwwwwberry Wine," when all of a sudden he turned to Hassan and said, "Wait, stop here." 

I have to say that this was my least favorite John Green novel, but that's not to say there wasn't anything redeemable about this read. The main 'issue' I had with An Abundance of Katherines was that I felt excluded for some parts of it. After being dumped by Katherine no. 19, he starts his work on the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which is what he hopes will predict the future of any relationship ever. Colin sees himself as the constant Dumpee, and wants to prevent this from happening in the future. However, the road to the theorem involves a lot of math, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I really hate math. I don't get it, especially when it's put into words and insane equations. Therefore, much of the development of the Theorem, which is supposed to be the greatest thing Colin has ever cooked up, I skimmed over. No part of me wanted to read into the equations and understand them. Because of all the mathy-ness, I also did not feel myself connecting to Colin at all, and actually had to distend my belief in a contemporary novel to accept that a 17/18 year old boy has had a chance to date nineteen girls, let alone nineteen girls ALL with the same name. 

Dumpers and Dumpees. A lot of people will claim to be both, but those people miss the point entirely: You are predisposed to either one fate or the other. Dumpers may not always be the heartbreakers, and the Dumpees may not always be the heartbroken. But everyone has a tendency.

Even though I didn't connect to Colin, or his best friend Hassan, or his new friend Lindsey hardly at all, there were still some epically relatable character revelations that come in every John Green novel. I liked Hassan as a character--he was often the comedic relief in the bleak cloud of Dumpee-ness that is Colin's life. Hassan also had my favorite character revelation in the novel. I didn't totally care about Colin's theorem and trying to predict his relationships, because homeboy should've learned to stop dating girls named Katherine after he noticed the trend. Or maybe looked inside himself a little to see why instead of putting it back into science and math. Hassan's, though, was something I struggle with myself: always seen as the jokester, but with little to no motivation to push himself farther in life. I loved reading his revelation and seeing his change from the jokester, into the doer.

An Abundance of Katherines is further proof that John Green is a nerdy little genius. Sadly, he displayed that in this novel in a way that probably excluded readers like myself who dislike math and reading about it. However, in true John Green fashion, the laughs were genuine, and each character had a brilliant revelation that showed change towards a brighter future.

Rating: 3 / 5

Have you read An Abundance of Katherines? How do you think it compares to other John Green novels?

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