Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines

Title: An Abundance of Katherines

Author: John Green

SPOILER FREE description (self explained): Everyone has a type when it comes to relationships. However, only one has limited their type to girls named Katherine. Colin Singleton, rejected by nineteen Katherines. After his latest breakup, Hassan, his overweight, Judy Judy loving best friend, decides he needs an adventure: a road trip. Colin is fixated on completing the 'Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability', which should predict the future of a relationship; how it will end. In doing this, he hopes to prove to himself that he’s more than just a child prodigy, but a genius too. Amongst all of this, he hopes to finally win the girl.

A History of An Abundance of KatherinesAn Abundance of Katherines was published in 2006 by Dutton Penguin. It won the 2007 Michael L. Printz Honor book award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Kirkus, Horn Book, and Booklist named it one of the best books of the year. In this video, Green revealed that An Abundance of Katherines was being converted to a film, and he was asked to write the screenplay. However, the news on the movie has since halted.

On the Author, John Green: Other novels written by Green include Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and most recently, The Fault in Our Stars. Green has co-written books with David Levithan (Will Grayson, Will Grayson), and Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Let it Snow). Green is one of the 'Vlog brothers', one of the most popular literary YouTube channels to date. He’s written for the New York Times and Nation Public Radio’s All Things Considered. And to top it all off, according to the biography on the back of my paperback, Green was dumped fifty-three times before marrying his wife. Aw!


From a look at the description, An Abundance of Katherines seems very 'flimsy and fun'. It is somewhat less "serious" than others of his work, but that's not to say that the writing is anything less than great. This book is fantastic for a summer read, or if you're looking to escape the allegory and symbolism filled, school required, reading. Let's face it: we all need to get away from that once in a while.

Green's characters carry the story. Colin made me want to punch him in the face and give him a big hug, all at the same time. 
He's a breath of fresh air compared to so many other flawless YA boys. He isn't perfect. He can be difficult, but readers can understand the reasoning behind all of his decisions. He's insecure and relatable.

Hassan was much more than the funny best friend. He counters Colin and shows him that there are different views to love, life, and religion. Being best friends with a guy who's been dumped nineteen times can't be easy, and has he says, it isn't. Their relationship is rocky, as any good literary relationship should be. They're opposites, but they complement each other well.

An Abundance of Katherines was quirky and hilarious, but it also had just enough important ideas to make it that much better. With a child prodigy as the main character, Green explores the idea of 'mattering' to the world. He makes the distinction between a prodigy and a genius. A prodigy learns; a genius does things. Geniuses are rarely prodigies and prodigies are rarely geniuses. While we are not all child prodigies, we can all relate to Colin's need to matter, to be something. It's the moment when we grow up and realize that we aren't as special as our parents and others have told us.

Furthermore, I felt something for this theme. I, myself, have struggled with it. Being any sort of artist makes you think about it. There are millions of people in the world who want to be writers, singers, dancers, actors... but will my work matter? Will I make a difference in someone's life because of what I did, what I wrote?

I found refuge in this book (admittedly while trying to avoid my summer required reading). An Abundance of Katherines is unique, amusing, and lively.

Who would I recommend it to?

Ages fourteen and up. Mostly girls, but boys too. To anyone who's been dumped hard. To anyone who likes the idea of math and love together. To anyone who enjoys a good story.

Favorite quote:

"The act of leaning in to kiss someone, or asking to kiss them, is fraught with the possibility of rejection, so the person least likely to get rejected should do the leaning in or the asking. And that person, at least in high school heterosexual relationships, is definitely the girl. Think about it: boys, basically, want to kiss girls. Guys want to make out. Always. Hassan aside, there’s rarely a time when a boy is thinking, "Eh, I think I'd rather not kiss a girl to day." Maybe if a guy is actually, literally on fire, he won't be thinking about hooking up. But that's about it."

Have a different opinion on the novel? Have a book recommendation? Leave a comment below!

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