Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Plot Summary: 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. He’s also a washed up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best-friend-Hassan. Colin’s on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl.

As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.

This book is living proof that YA novels can be fun and light, yet still be gripping. Or, it could simply be that John Green is a genius. Yes, that’s probably it. He took this story and created the best characters for it. Look at the main character, for example: Colin Singleton. Singleton. The one who doesn’t go for a girl unless her name is Katherine. Not Kathy, not Katie, not even Catherine. Katherine. How “single”-minded can you get?

So, to get his mind off the latest Katherine, Colin’s best friend, Hassan, takes him on a road trip. Colin spends all his time trying to create a theorem to predict the future of all relationships, using his past Katherines as data. Again with the single-mindedness.

On this trip, Colin meets a girl that stirs feelings of interest, which he dismisses because her name isn’t Katherine. It’s Lindsey. From this point, we know exactly what’s going to happen. Colin is going to get over his obsession with Katherines, hook up with Lindsey, and move on with a broader view of life. And yet, I was still hooked.

Why?

Quite simple, really. I loved these characters. They made me laugh. They seemed so real that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see one of them sitting next to me on the sofa. They did stupid things that anyone in their shoes could have done, then they learned not to do it again and moved on. I didn’t care that I knew what was going to happen. What I cared about was seeing how they got there, because these characters were interesting, funny, and unpredictable. And funny. Did I mention funny? This is an excellent example of fully developed characters that carry an entire story from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

12 comments:

Kim said...

I've not read An Abundance of Katherines yet, but your post has made me want to head to the library right away. It sounds like such a great story.

beth said...

That one's on my list, and now I'm moving it up!

Tabitha said...

You'll both love it. :) Of course, I say that because I loved it, and I want everyone else to love it too. :)

Anne Spollen said...

Yes, I wanted to read this one! Was it up for some award? I thought it might have been, but I'm not sure which one. Thanks for the review :)

Gottawrite Girl said...

Sounds like the author nailed Katherine's voice! Which still seems like the hardest and most important thing to do...

Jacqui said...

I have nothing intelligent to add -- I just totally agree.

liquidambar said...

Anne S. asked about awards--I know this was a Printz honor book.

One thing I really liked about AoK was that John Green tried so many new things--i.e., different from LOOKING FOR ALASKA. Third person narration and much more humor, for example. And footnotes! It's a good example of how to avoid getting "typecast" as an author.

PJ Hoover said...

Read it. Loved it! I'll definitely read Finding Alaska and Paper Towns, though not absolutely next.
But this book was truly a joy to read.
At a couple points, I almost cried I laughed so hard :)

Marcia said...

I loved this book, too, and it was because I loved Colin and Hassan. But it ran a lot deeper than that. Colin's worries about being a washed-up child prodigy and the math in the book really hit home with me. I wonder how much flak or doubt Green might have had to endure from critiquers, agent or editor for putting math in the book. The only thing I don't really buy is that you really could meet or date that many people with exactly the same first name. MAYBE in my day a guy could have dated that many Marys, but I dunno. Great book. IMO, way, way better than Looking for Alaska.

Tabitha said...

Anne - as Jenn said, this was a Printz honor. And quite worthy, too. :) You'll love it. :)

GWG - there is good voice in this book, but I think its real strength is character development. We know these characters, can guess what action they will take, but keep reading because they're just so real. It's amazing. :)

Jacqui - LOL!! :)

Jenn - I haven't read Looking For Alaska yet, but will. I really admire authors who can write a huge variety of stories. And I totally agree about avoiding the typecast thing. If actors can do it, writers should too.

PJ - I'm gonna read John Green's other books too. Not sure when, I just will at some point. But this one is just so amazingly good, and I nearly bust a gut laughing so much. :)

Marcia - so, so true. I mean, when you think about it, not much actually happens. But the characters are so real that I cared about how they were going to get from point A to point B (had to throw that math analogy in there). :) I'm also with you on the sheer number of Katherines he dated. Especially when you consider the spelling/nickname restriction. But the book was so much fun that I was able to overlook it. I still smile just when I see it sitting on my bookshelf. :)

Sorry it took so long to respond. My oldest son's school had a Fall Festival today, and I donated four layer cakes, plus cookies. Three of the cakes were decorated with a spider web theme, which took all day friday. I'm hoping next week is more normal...

Shari said...

That was such a great book! I loved it, and so did my teenage sons. I think you may be right when you said John Green is a genius. ;)

Tabitha said...

Yep, he sure is some kind of genius! So good to hear what teenage boys are reading these days. Thanks for sharing!