Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

AnabundanceofkatherinescoverTitle:  An Abundance of Katherines
Author:  John Green
Published: September 21st, 2006 (Dutton and Speak)
Pages: 256
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: Two Stars
Goodreads Summary:
Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be 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, washed-up 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.

Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository
Cover Thoughts: I like how each of the objects on the cover symbolize something in the story. I thought it was really interesting.
First Line: The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from highschool and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath.

First Thoughts:
An Abundance of Katherine is told in the third person point of view. There is also a non-linear format in the novel. Going straight into this book, I wasn’t very fond of it. The character, Colin, reminded me a bit of Miles from Looking For Alaska. I found Colin immediately extremely whiny and not terribly interesting.
Colin: Colin grew up as an academic child prodigy, years later as a late teen, he realizes he hasn’t really accomplished anything. He’s disappointed that he was a prodigy, but not a genius. He has also only dated girls named Katherine who always break up with him, which leads to the title “An Abundance of Katherines”. Colin attempts to create a theorem to predict the length of a relationship and who will break up with who. He believes if he creates this theorem, he will bring justice to all the other dumpees of the world. Honestly his character annoyed me with how focused he was on his past relationships. I felt he was too upset over how he’s a prodigy but not a genius and how all of his Katherines break up with him eventually. Colin’s interests were anagramming, history and Katherines. For the majority of the novel, I didn’t care about his character, but that changes.
Hassan: Hassan is the best friend/sidekick of Colin. He is an overweight, Muslim guy who jokes around a lot. Unlike Colin, he doesn’t believe in dating, especially when he’s seen how torn up Colin always gets. He’s the comic relief of the novel and i enjoyed reading about him. Also unlike Colin, Hassan isn’t exactly into classes and going to college which Colin nags him about. I thought his and Colin’s relationship was well written, although I would have liked to see more of it.
Lindsey: Ah, a female whose name is not Katherine. Lindsey ironically enough has a boyfriend named Colin, who Colin and Hassan call “The Other Colin”. Lindsey is a girl who’s completely content in living in Gunshot. Something that stood out to me about her character is how depending on who she’s with, she changes her behavior and way of talking. I enjoyed seeing her friendship with Colin and Hassan grow, I thought it was well done.
I liked that Colin, Hassan and Lindsey all had their positive attributes as well as flaws. For Colin, he had sort of low self-esteem because he wasn’t a “genius” and was always being dumped. These characteristics made them more real and I liked that a lot. Their flaws were all something I could relate to and were displayed realistically.
Other characters include Hollis, Lindsey’s mother, the Oldsters, The Other Colin, Katrina, the Katherines, and others. I felt the glimpses we saw of the Oldsters was nice. I didn’t care for the The Other Colin or Katrina as there didn’t seem to be a  lot of character development there. Hollis was a nice addition to the story. Hollis runs the town’s factory that makes tampon strings and keeps the residents afloat economically.
This is a character driven novel which focuses on Colin, Hassan and Lindsey later for the most part. After being dumped for the nineteenth time, Colin’s best friend Hassan persuades him to go on a road trip with him. When Colin learns of the Archduke of Franz Ferdinand’s coffin is in Gunshot, he and Hassan go to see it. Gunshot is a middle of nowhere town in Tennessee. It is for the Franz Ferdinand tour that Colin and Hassan meet Lindsey. Colin and Hassan end up staying in town working for Lindsey’s mom, Hollis. Hollis hires Colin and Hassan as interviewers to record life in Gunshot as it was then for future generations. One of my favorite parts of An Abundance of Katherines was Colin and Hassan working interviewing the factory workers/Oldsters of Gunshot. I liked hearing the “oldsters” (what Lindsey calls the old people) tell stories of living there. I wish there would have been more of that in the story.
When Colin isn’t interviewing people, he is working on his theorem. For the majority of the part, I wasn’t so sure about this theorem. I thought it was slightly interesting, but his thinking he would “avenge Dumpees everywhere” seemed a little overboard. There are romantic side plots in this story, one in particular involving Hassan. I wasn’t too invested in that storyline because it was barely a storyline.
There was another plot involving Lindsey and Hollis which was Hollis making mysterious phone calls. I liked what came from this storyline. I thought it was done well, resolving only at the end of the novel. It was nice to see adults involved in the novel rather than just two teenagers going off on their physical road to self discovery. Not that that wouldn’t make a good plot, I just liked that there were characters other than teenagers.
I only gave this book two stars because I didn’t really care for it. This book didn’t interest me very much at all. I felt myself simply struggling to get from page to page. I didn’t like Colin very much because of how focused he was on his theorem and his whininess. Towards the end of the novel, I felt myself beginning to like him more though as he grew a bit wiser.
Some things that I liked about An Abundance of Katherines was the non linear format the story is told in, which is one of my favorites. Flashbacks are some of my favorite story elements especially when they have enough of a focus like in this novel. Every now and then, An Abundance of Katherines would delve into Colin’s past relationships or memories with the Katherines. This was the biggest highlight of the novel by far for me. I found it really interesting seeing how they all compared or differentiated from each other. It’s interesting in general how although he didn’t seek Katherines out specifically, he always ended up dating them.
The second most interesting thing I thought of in the book was the use of footnotes spread throughout An Abundance of Katherines. In these footnotes were facts, definitions, background information, or simply side notes from Colin. This was an original and rare touch I haven’t seen before in any other novels.
I liked the unique talent Colin had in anagramming words. I liked Lindsey’s character and found her to be relatable. I related to her wanting to move away from Gunshot because she knew she wouldn’t get hurt. I enjoyed seeing Lindsey interact with different people since she always changed her attitude to fit that of who she was around. It was nice that Colin picked this up too. The theorem itself wasn’t incredibly fascinating to me, but I do like the care John Green took to make sure all the equations in An Abundance of Katherines were in fact real.
Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of An Abundance of Katherines, there are themes and situations I believe everyone can relate to. The most notable one is moving on from old relationships and finding yourself. Colin, Hassan and Lindsey all deal with things in their lives that they either move on from or change their minds about. This was really relatable and added a depth to the story. They all struggled with their identity as well. Colin wanted to be recognized as a genius, Hassan wasn’t sure what he wanted and Lindsey was comfortable never moving on from Gunshot and living their. Something I really liked is how Colin wants recognition while Lindsey doesn’t really want any at all. It was nice to see the contrasting views on topics in An Abundance of Katherines.
Overall I think some people would enjoy this book, for me though, I didn’t really care about Colin or the plot for the majority of An Abundance of Katherines.

About Amber (YA Indulgences)

Amber is a 20-something woman who enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks. She has a book blog called YA Indulgences . She is still trying to figure out what she's doing with her life, but she's confident that time will tell. In the meantime she's heading towards the goal of becoming a renowned blogger. View all posts by Amber (YA Indulgences)

3 responses to “Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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