Archive | 10:19 AM

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines (3/5)

14 May

After enjoying two John Green books and somewhat liking a third, I figured I might as well read through all of his books. I’m getting there, really. This is one I was given by a friend preening her bookshelves but I eventually read the ebook so I could get to it sooner.

Cover image via Goodreads

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Other books by John Green reviewed on this blog:

Looking for Alaska
Paper Towns

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

There were parts of this book I really enjoyed. There were also parts that annoyed me a lot. It started out with annoyance. I felt the whole premise of going on a road trip at the drop of a hat and staying with complete strangers was a bit too far-fetched. Colin’s parents seemed to keep a close eye on him so when he was able to go off with no destination without much debate, my eyebrows went up. When they were offered a job and a place to stay for the summer without much trouble, I cocked an eyebrow. There were points from then on that were fun and that I thought were well written, but I was already soured to the book and it wasn’t a great way to start. I also felt like a lot of the ending was missing. A bunch of loose threads were left untied and I kept thinking there was another chapter hidden later in the book.

One thing you can never say is that Green doesn’t understand teenagers. He understands them so well that it’s scary. Colin doesn’t care about college, he’s worried about his girlfriend (short-term) and mattering in the universe (very long-term). He doesn’t see the next five years. Lindsey and Hassan are afraid of change and having to be adults. They’re very typical and remind me of myself at their ages. Hollis seemed like an odd character to me but, in classic YA fashion, the adults don’t really matter so it wasn’t something I got hung up on.

I liked Lindsey a lot. She was happy in her small town and happy with her mother and her friends. But really, she’s scared of anything changing. She seems to have gone through a lot of change in her life with her father leaving and wants to stay where she is. But she’s also open to change that does come her way, though it takes some time for her to realize she needs it. Even if she and Colin break up, he helped her see the world outside of Gunshot and realize that she can move on.

I remember having big questions about what I would do and how important I would be when I was Colin’s age. Granted, I wasn’t a prodigy, but I still wondered. I was also afraid of change. I went out-of-state for college and didn’t know anyone when I got there. It was a bit terrifying! I could relate to Hassan’s fear of going to school, knowing that everything would change. I can understand why Lindsey didn’t want to leave Gunshot. Major changes can be terrifying and I understand the fear of finishing high school and having to make a decision about what comes next.

John Green
Image via PRH Speakers

I liked the plotline about the factory a lot. This could be a spoiler so skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t read this yet. I wondered about Hollis’s motivation behind the interviews so I wasn’t really surprised that it wasn’t 100% positive but I didn’t see it coming. I know what Hollis is doing is completely counter to all business logic but it matters that she’s doing it. It matters that she’s supporting her neighbors and friends. It’s one of those sticky ethics questions and I wish that plotline had been wrapped up better.

The boar hunting scene was a bit odd for me. I didn’t understand the point of it. It seemed like its only purpose was to get Colin and Hassan at a point where they could find TOC and Katrina. Granted, that scene was hilarious. However, all the detail about boars and the wasps seemed unnecessary and didn’t move Colin’s plot forward much. I could have done without it.

Colin was stuck in a rut. It was an odd rut about girls named Katherine, but it was still a rut. So was Hassan, Lindsey, Katrina, Hollis, and almost every character in the book. Getting out of a rut is hard because it’s so comfortable there. These characters helped shake up each other’s worlds long enough to climb out of their ruts and I thought the book showed that well. It wasn’t a very eventful summer, but it mattered enough to all of them.

Writer’s Takeaway: The footnotes in this one were really awkward in an ebook so that’s something to consider in writing a book. I liked how they showed Colin’s personality, but I didn’t think it was worth it. As much as I liked the teen characters, there were some jumps in logic I couldn’t get past and would even classify as plot holes. I wish Green had been a little more conscious of things that seemed out of character, especially for the parents. I get annoyed with YA books where all of the parents are stupid. I was hoping this wouldn’t be one.

An enjoyable book, but it didn’t blow me away. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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An Abundance of Katherines – John Green | Clare’s Bookshelf