Colin Singleton is a former prodigy with a curious affinity for girls named Katherine. His life seems to be at an all-time low. Now that he’s graduated he is no longer the prodigy he once was and maybe he will never be the genius he would like to be. Not to mention that, for the nineteenth time, a girl named Katherine has broken up with him. He was sure he loved her, he was head over heels, he thought she loved him too, and then she ended it. Colin is devastated and begins to realize that he can’t create or do anything and that he will never matter, he will never have his eureka moment. All he’s good at is reciting sometimes interesting facts and making anagrams. He is self-centered and generally unlikable. While moping about the loss of his latest Katherine his friend Hassan storms into his room. Seeing his best friend in the state that he is, Hassan declares that the two must go on a road trip. They travel south from Chicago and wind up in beautiful Gutshot, Tennessee where they learn about life and love and Colin finally gets his eureka moment.
With the nation basically still abuzz with Fault in Our Stars fever I thought it would be a good time to review a book by John Green. My first choice was The Fault in Our Stars but I had not yet picked up An Abundance of Katherines (One quick note about The Fault in Our Stars before I continue: it is a great book, his best, read it). I am aware that the target audience for John Green’s books is teenage girls and I am not ashamed to say that he is one of my favorite authors, and I am not a teenage girl (in case that was unclear). Green is a phenomenal writer with a fairly impressive grasp of the English language and teenage language.
The biggest knock on Green’s books is that all of the characters are pretentious. I actually can’t argue with that, there is that element to his characters and I enjoy it but many find it off-putting. I can easily see why people dislike his books but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. An Abundance of Katherines was a coming of age story about an incredibly intelligent boy and his need to matter. The characters are consistently ripped on for being unlikable and to a point they are not likable. Colin is whiny, Hassan is lazy, and Lindsey is fake. These are generally not highly regarded traits. The characters are realistic and the point of the story is their growth from what they were to what they become. The characters begin to find out who they are and what that means.
I must say that I’m a tad bit biased on the characters. I see a lot of myself in Colin and to a point his ex-girlfriend Katherine XIX. This isn’t to say that I was a child prodigy, though I can’t deny that I’m pretty intelligent. Hassan reminds me of a friend of mine. I like the characters for all of their unlikable traits because that makes them seem real to me, I can relate to them.
John Green’s use of dialogue is extremely effective as a general rule. He does tend to go a bit overboard occasionally and overuses some jokes (especially in this book) but I can’t deny that it’s one of the draws of his novels.
An Abundance of Katherines is not the best coming of age story ever written. It is a fun and humorous book that’s just entertaining to read. Regardless of whether you go into reading the story hoping to be changed or just hoping to love a book you will not be disappointed with this one. It is well written and the style and voice are interesting. It is an important book or at least it was to me. It can be great or it can be good or it can be bad depending on what you expect or want to take out of it.
An Abundance of Katherines was a quick read with outstanding writing. It is marked with pretentious style, somewhat unlikable characters, and sometimes questionable humor. Am I saying it’s a masterpiece? No. Am I saying it’s a great book that’s well worth the time to read it? Yes. John Green is a phenomenal author and constantly produces quality books. This one was no exception.
I know the review seemed to go back and forth until it was kind of confusing whether I liked the book or hated it. I really enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines and would like to say that everyone else will also enjoy it. It is clear that not everyone will enjoy this book because of personal taste. It is a coming of age novel so fans of those types of stories might enjoy An Abundance of Katherines.
Even if it’s a dumb story, telling it changes other people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinitesimal change ripples outward—even smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter—maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.