An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

John Green

 

John Green. So far, I have such a love/hate relationship with him. Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a pretty great book and he co-authored that. An Abundance of Katherines was my first full John Green book, and it leaves a lot to be desired.

So basically there’s a teenage washed-up child prodigy named Colin Singleton, who keeps falling in love with and getting dumped by girls named Katherine, 19 times to be exact. To get him out of the depression of his latest break-up, his friend Hassan convinces him to go on a road trip. While on the road, Colin tries to perfect his “big” discovery, The Theorum of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes can be used to predict how all relationships will end and earn him the genius spotlight he’s been craving.

So here’s my issue – despite witty and often great writing, this book just TRIES TOO HARD. It tries too hard to be hip, nerdy, and teenage-y. There is barely a story here, and the story that is there is pretty implausible. I won’t go into too many details because I don’t want to be spoiler-y, but for real, lamest road trip and Eureka moment ever.

Colin is often whiny and kind of an asshole, though a slight part of me forgives that because of his genius-ness, and I like really smart assholes (House, anyone?). He was DEFINITELY too emo and dramatic. Hassan was pretty awesome, and I was happy to see a teen that’s a practicing Muslim in a book. Overall Hassan was pretty great, he was the best character. Lindsey is a girl they meet on their road trip and she was a cool girl, but also a little too angsty and she lacked some basic common sense.

Also, the every time the characters should be saying “fuck”, they say “fug”. Like “mother-fugger”. It’s explained in the book, but my god it made me want to tear my hair out in annoyance.

The book reads quickly, but the best part of it is the random nerdy fact-dropping and anagramming via Colin. Damn you John Green, for luring me in with your cheap smarty-pants tricks. The writing is pretty good, but I feel like he’s trying to manipulate me with his teenage drama bullshit and exagerrated quirky-ness. Like everything is supposed to be so eye-opening and epic, but really I kind of want to slap these kids and tell them to man up.

I’ll probably try another John Green book again, but it’s going to be a while.

 

Sarah Says: 2 stars

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15 comments

  1. I’m reading all over the blogosphere about this guy. It’s love/hate everywhere. Have you considered trying that one with Alaska in the title? That’s the other one I’m seeing around. I don’t like that pretentious kind of writing that you’re describing here.

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  2. I liked this book, but it wasn’t as good as his others. It’s definitely one of those books that’s just a little too “existential crisis”-y. I thought the same thing when I listened to Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. There was just too much angst and woe for teenagers.

    I really liked Looking for Alaska. I also liked The Fault in Our Stars, but it wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be. I actually preferred Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson, which isn’t about young people dealing with cancer, but is still funny, romantic, and incredibly sad.

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    1. YESSS, existential crisis-y was exactly my problem!! I was struggling to find the right words to describe my issue, and there they are. And Nick & Norah definitely suffered from the same problem, although the constant references to indie-punk music bored me too.

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  3. That’s the danger of YA – focusing it around teenagers, who are often impossible to empathize with. What with the emo and the drama. I’ve read Looking for Alaska, and it was good, but very light. I think you just have to be in exactly the right mood for YA. Otherwise it’s frustrating.

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    1. That’s a good point… I don’t like most teenagers, why do I keep trying to read YA? Lol. I have read some books that can accurately capture that teenage feeling without making it all dramatic and annoying, but they’re few and far between.

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  4. I love John Green. Katherines isn’t my favorite thing he’s written because while I love a lot of nerdy things, I cannot get excited about math and formulas. Though I adore that he writes about smart, nerdy, articulate teens. I was bullied as a teen for being a nerd so I love that they are the main characters in most of his books. I really like Looking For Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars.

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  5. I felt the same way about The Fault in Our Stars, about the over-the-top wit and quirkiness. I still liked the book a lot, but just don’t know if his is going to be a writing style that I enjoy long-term. I’m sure I’ll read more of his books at some point though, just to make sure.

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    1. Yes, I need to read more of his books before I can form a solid opinion of him. This is the first full John Green book I’ve read, so I don’t want to judge too harshly just on this one, since there were parts that I enjoyed.

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  6. I was one of the few people that really didn’t get on with The Fault in Our Stars, and it’s put me off his other books a little. This one will probably be the next one I read, although the ‘fugging’ will annoy me no end, however well-explained it may be!

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    1. For real, all the “fug” was soooooo annoying. At first I thought he just wrote it that way so that his book wouldn’t get bad press for too much swearing… and even though the characters explain it away, I still kind of think that.

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