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An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines
“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.”
* http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49750.An_Abundance_of_Katherines

An Abundance of Katherine’s is a humorous book that delves into the lives of Colin, who feels he is a washed out child prodigy, and his best friend Hassan. After Colin’s 19th girlfriend, Katherine, who shares the same name with all of his short lived girlfriends, dumps him, Colin and Hassan decide to go on a road trip. This is where the situational hilarity and randomness ensues.

What I liked about this book, as I did with his book The Fault in Our Stars, is John Green’s books seem very honest. While I really enjoy Young Adult fiction, I do think there are some books that write in a way that either talks down to teenagers, or portrays teenagers who divulge in stereotypical activities while having stereotypical identities. I could totally relate to Colin, who was the awkward kid who would rather be a robot on the playground than do the “normal” things that all the other kids were doing. (I related more to the wanting to run around and do the robot thing than the whole child prodigy thing. I mean, who wouldn’t rather be a robot than play with baby dolls? Am I right?) This story doesn’t really just deal with someone trying to get over his heart being broken, it deals with the question we deal with all our life. Who are we? For a boy Colin’s or Hassan age, this is something that really hits them. Colin has now moved out of the age where he can be considered to be in his prime as a child prodigy, and his life is on the brink of adulthood. Hassan has taken a year off from school and basically does nothing, and with his family being wealthy, he struggles with who he actually is in a subtle manner.

Colin and Hassan had a very realistic teenage friendship. I would definitely classify their relationship as a “bromance.” They were very close, and Hassan seemed to be the only real friend Colin ever had. Colin encouraged Hassan to go to college, while Hassan listened to Colin’s incessant whining about his Katherines. I felt that all of the relationships, while blunt, were very honest in depicting young friendships, and what their conversations are like. Some of the dialogue may have been a bit out there, but it made sense in the realm of this story, as the main character was a genius.

I can really appreciate intelligent fiction, which is what I felt this was. This book is laced with colorful footnotes that explain many of the random, intelligent things Colin and Hassan, discuss, much of it incredibly smart, and incredibly inappropriate. Colin is also trying to come up with a formula to explain his relationships with all of his Katherines, and the relationships between dumpers and dumpees in general. At the end of the book, there are some notes that show that John Green actually got a math expert, Daniel Bliss, to actually come up with an actual working formula for this.

I always feel that John Green’s characters are realistic, and in the books that I have read, they usually have this nerdy, likable character in the lead. I have read somewhere that these characters are usually a depiction of John Green himself to an extent, though I have never really done any research to verify that. It does seem to fit, though. While I loved the humor and honesty in this book, some may not appreciate it, as sometimes teenage boys can be a bit inappropriate. I thought even the “inappropriate” humor was written in a way that was conveyed as intellectual rather than infantile. His books are also hilarious, not always in an obvious manner, but in a situational dry type of humor, which I love. Colin and Hassan talked about very honest things young people deal with, in a way that made your heart break for the young characters, but also had me laughing out loud. Through all of this, the boys make some new friends, and discover themselves in this epic road trip that is a coming of age experience.

* Did you know that television was invented by a 14 year old? According to some of the footnotes in this book, in 1920, Philo T. Farnsworth conceived of the ray vacuum tubes that were later used in TV sets. He then actually built the first one at 21!

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.” An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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