32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
I should preface this by saying that as 30something adult, I don't seek out "YA" (young adult, aka teen) fiction for my leisure reading. In the case of this book, I didn't realize it was a YA title until I was already hooked, and since I'm a fan of quirky coming-of-age novels, it pretty much fit right into my comfort zone. The story is about recent high-school graduate Colin. A former child prodigy, he is now merely another smart teenager with underdeveloped social skills and a yearning to leave his intellectual mark on the world. With the summer between high school and college to kill, he's also heartbroken because his girlfriend, Katherine, just dumped him. Actually, she's the nineteenth Katherine to sever relations with Colin (hence the title) -- although one of the book's enduring mysteries is how someone as neurotic as Colin manages to have relations with 3, let alone 19 girls, whatever they may be named.
In any event, Colin is fortunate to posses a roly-poly sidekick/best buddy named Hassan, who promptly prescribes a road trip as the cure for his malaise. Couch potato Hassan provides much-needed comic relief with his blunt talk, tough love, and love for bad daytime TV. It's also nice to see an Arab-American character in such a role. The road trip takes them to a small town in Tennessee, where they stumble into jobs and a place to stay for the summer. They also luck into friendship with a cool local girl named Lindsey and spend a good deal of time hanging out with her and her Abercrombie-wearing friends. Meanwhile, Colin is hard at work trying to figure out the variables needed to plug into a mathematical formula which will graph the rise and fall of any relationship. This provides the excuse to learn about the 19 Katherines, although thankfully just enough to help the reader understand how they affected Colin.
As the summer progresses, the story unravels much as one might expect, with the notable exception of an unlikely hookup between Hassan and another character. Lindsey naturally turns out to have hidden depths, and despite the expected heart-warming developments at the end, the story kind of peters out without the closure one might expect. Overall it's a worthwhile read, although it's not a particularly challenging story and Colin is simultaneously too self-pitying and too handy with the ladies to be a truly sympathetic protagonist. Some of Green's stylistic tics work, such as the many footnotes, but the mathematical relationship formula felt kind of gimmicky. Still, this is the second YA novel by Green, and it's definitely enjoyable enough to make me think about seeking out the first.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2013
John Green is one of those writers who really gets you excited every time he produces a book and whilst his books are aimed at young adults, I have always found them remarkably accessible for both teenagers and adults alike. Having thoroughly enjoyed his most recent novel and bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars as well as 2008's Paper Towns I was delighted to unwrap An Abundance of Katherines on my birthday this year.
Colin Singleton, the protagonist, is a child prodigy with a tendency to date girls named Katherine. Seventeen of them in fact. After the latest Katherine dumps him, his wise-cracking, overweight, Judge Judy loving best friend, Hassan, takes him on a road trip to take his mind off things. All the while Colin is working on a theorem to predict relationships, hoping that he can progress from a child prodigy into an adult genius. Needless to say, the two friends find adventure, romance and learn important life lessons.
So far it sounds typical John Green; the road trip, intelligent young protagonists and a healthy smattering of romance. But An Abundance of Katherines differentiates itself in a number of ways. The first of these is evident from the very first page, as Green has included extensive footnotes as part of the book. These are written from the same perspective as the book itself, but are often side thoughts, ranging from translations of Arabic, Greek or other languages to interesting facts that relate loosely to the plot. These footnotes add a healthy dose of flavour to the book and gives An Abundance of Katherines its own unique character. The maths itself is an important part of the book, with Colin using it to create his theorem on relationships, and therefore Green has included a whole chapter at the end where mathematician Daniel Bliss explains the maths used by Colin. I found this section surprisingly interesting despite my own lack of mathematical ability.
Green's characters are, as always, superbly written. They converse in a way that seems believable and natural, and are identifiable with for readers of all ages. Colin's desire to be someone special or important is a feeling most people can sympathise with, although I did find I tired of his attitude towards others and his frequent self-pitying quite quickly. Its the supporting cast who really bring life to the book, with Colin's best friend Hassan standing out with his excellent comedic timing and his genuine care for Colin's well being. Finally Lindsey, a girl who chameleons her way through life gives the pair of boys some grounding as well providing a much needed emotional centre to the book. In fact I found Lindsey's character arc and her situation more involving than Colin's distress due to constantly being dumped by Katherines.
The writing itself is John Green at his finest. Clever wordplay and cultural references pepper the bulk of the text. There are plenty of witty moments that made me laugh out loud, as well as sentences that will make you smile, purely due to their cleverness. Flashbacks are provided to Colin's past history of Katherines, which are all beautifully timed within the overall plot, whilst also providing enough surprise to make you want to keep reading. In fact, I found this book so hard to put down I finished it within a day, and then reread it the next.
An Abundance of Katherines is a highly enjoyable novel, able to grip readers of all ages. Its characters are easy to warm to, and to root for, whilst its writing is smart, snappy and thoroughly original. Personally I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Paper Towns or TFioS, mostly due to often becoming infuriated with Colin's attitude towards life. However I find it hard to criticise Green for this, as the story really wouldn't work if Colin's personality were any other way. In the end, this is a incredibly fun and intelligent story about growing up and moving on that I would highly recommend to anyone.
Score: 8 out of 10
For fans of: Stephen Chbosky, David Levithan, Rachel Cohn
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Originally posted at[...]
Well this was an interesting read, to say the least. This is my third John Green book but it has sadly not become my favourite.
The novel is about a boy, Colin, who is on the edge of adulthood struggling with the fact that although he was a child prodigy, he may not become an adult genius. His solution to that is to make a formula mapping out whether relationships will fail or not. This is also because he has just been dumped by K-19, the 19th Katherine he has dated in his life.
What I liked...
As always I really like John Green's writing style. It is insightful and fresh while never being condescending to the reader.
In terms of characters, I found Hassam and Lindsey the most intriguing. In terms of the problems they were facing in their lives I found them most realatable.
I also liked the unusual format of the novel with the footnotes and the maths. This was never too heavy though as the real detail regarding the formula and how it worked is reserved for the appendix.
The overall messsage of the book was what really struck me the most. It really dealt with the problem facing most young people: do I matter? All of the characters had to learn what they really wanted out of life and how they really wanted to be remembered.
What I didn't like...
Unfortunately, I never warmed to the main character Colin. Even though he realised in the ended that maybe he was approaching his life in the wrong way, it all came to late for me. Throughout nearly the whole book he is extremely annoying and selfish. I thing I would have accepted that more if his realisation had occurred a little sooner.
There were definite issues with pacing for me. It took me well over 100 pages to really have any resolved to finish the book. The book is only 272 pages long.
Unlike in some of his other novels, I felt like most of the supporting characters were poorly drawn and not particularly interesting.
Although I did enjoy the overall message of the book I cannot give it 5 stars because of the pacing. This book is definitely best for those in their late teens.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2013
This was the third John Green book I have read after getting hooked after reading the amazing The Fault in Our Stars last summer.
In this one we meet teenage boy Colin, who astonishingly has not only had 19 girlfriends, but all of them happened to be called Katherine! Following his break up with Katherine number 19, he embarks on a road trip with his best friend Hassan. Adventure ensues and we get to follow Colin on his journey to becoming a man.
Although I enjoyed this book, I found Colin’s luck with women a bit unbelievable as he is portrayed as being a geek with few friends. I also found Colin a bit whiny and overall thought the book was a little long winded (even though the page count is fairly small).
This was nowhere near the best young adult book I have read, but I can see the appeal for some readers. For me, it just didn’t sit in quite the same league as TFiOS and Paper Towns. It hasn’t put me off reading more of John Green’s work though.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2014
You know when you finish a book and afterwards you’re kinda like… Well, did I like it or did I not? That’s how I felt after finishing An Abundance of Katherines. This book is meh on all different levels. The plot was meh, the characters were meh. The obvious moral it was trying to give off was so very meh. This may because my high-standard that I set for John Green, great writer of many famous YA novels and a fabulous man (you might be able to tell that I am a Green fan). But this, by far, is his worst novel. Oh well, he had to have a bad one sooner or later!
This biggest problem for me is perhaps the main character, but I also don’t really understand the point/logic behind the Katherine thing. Colin Singleton is a really clever guy and he knows like 9740349 languages but he isn’t very socially adept. In fact, he’s so bad socially that he only has one friend… and yet, somehow, he’s managed to have 19 different girlfriends. All named Katherine.
This kinda bugged me, because for one, how can you even date/find so many people with the same name? How does that even work? Wouldn’t you just be unbearably reminded of your ex all the time?
Colin, though, as I’ve said, is a big reason why I didn’t really enjoy this book. He reminded me of the Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. Very intelligent, sometimes funny, socially awkward. But Colin isn’t as clever nor as funny as Sheldon, and I found him to be whiny and clingy. The book starts with the last Katherine he’s dated dumping him, and he’s basically this puppy-dog sorta guy who was just unbearable. For some reason, I just couldn’t stand Colin’s character and I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I just got such bad vibes from the guy. He just pissed me off a lot.
In terms of the plot, it’s mediocre. A little predictable, but it still makes an enjoyable read if I’m honest. Green has a way of writing that is easy and flowing, totally moreish, but Katherines just let me down. The story ends a little quickly (it’s a short novel at just over 200 pages) and problems get resolved really easily, almost without much explanation or build up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2014
Actual rating: 3.5
Colin has been dumped 19 times. All by girls named Katherine. With his last girlfriend just having broken up with him, Colin and his best friend Hassan decide to go on a road trip and find a job for the Summer. The main plot of the book is that Colin is determined to prove his Theorem correct: that will hopefully predict the future of relationships based on a dumpee vs dumper equation. Along the way (and pretty close to the beginning of the book), the two boys stumble across Lindsay and her family and friends in a small town called Gutshot. The rest of the story unfolds from here, discovering new things about himself, Colin builds relationships, has plenty of time to think about his Katherine's and earn some money while he's there.
Whilst I love John Green and his writing, Katherine's has to probably be my least favourite of his work. Which, I know is a popular opinion but I did still enjoy reading it. With countless maths equations and dull facts, An Abundance of Katherine's both entertained me and bored me. I loved the characters, even Colin - the protagonist - who sometimes annoyed me and was slightly harder to like. Hassan was a great character, as was Lindsay and whilst Green's characters always have a certain maturity, they seemed slightly more realistic in this book. However, the maths which takes over a wide part of this book wasn't interesting to me at all. In some ways, my brother and I have very different tastes and this book is definitely more of his type of book than mine. If you're into maths and child prodigy-type books, I'm sure you will love this book as it is still written extremely well with lovable characters and thoughtful prose but as it's not something particularly interesting to me, I'm only giving the book a 3.5 out of 5.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2013
Hmm. An Abundance of Katherines is good. It's enjoyable. In many ways I related to the main character. The application of math to romance was definitely an interesting concept. Ultimately, though, it's not too memorable.
The main character, Colin, is a washed up child prodigy, scared he has passed his peak and will not be able to leave his mark on the world. After he is dumped by the nineteenth Katherine he's dated, he goes on a road trip with his only friend Hassan to recover. He reaches his eureka moment and figures he can matter to the world by proving The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which would accurately predict who ends a relationship and when. I love this concept of being so stubborn to think that you can apply math to love.
Colin, understandably, has an interesting and unique personality that perhaps only John Green's writing style can do justice. The book is written in a very unique way with a lot of footnotes to expand on Colin's thoughts. Fitting, because as a prodigy, he frequently goes off on tangents concerning the information he finds interesting. Sometimes, however, it did get a bit annoying with my e-reader to have to flip back and forth. Overall it's very engaging to read - I am once again impressed by how distinctive and real John makes his characters sound. He really brings out these unique voices in a very special way.
Ultimately, the story concludes with the revelation that you can't predict the future but you can constantly reinvent yourself. For some reason, I expected a much deeper message than something so simple. Maybe my expectations for John Green were simply too high after I finished The Fault in Our Stars. But it wasn't an impressive message to me.
So overall, while I really enjoyed the story and can barely think of something really negative to say about it, the novel never really struck a deeper chord with me. I didn't connect too much with the characters and therefore, ultimately, this isn't the self-discovery novel that will stay with me for the years to come. For some reason, the blurb made me expect the book to have a much greater impact on me than it actually did. But that doesn't mean it's not a great book. It's enjoyable, light, romantic, uplifting, and true to John Green's lovely writing style.
Recommended for: fans of coming-of-age contemporary novels.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2013
The book has many things which seem to be John Green staples: a young male protagonist who is confused about his future; a part of the USA that you don't tend to see on TV; a larger-than-life, foul-mouthed best friend; and a lot of random facts that are part of the main character's quirks.
Despite having familiar elements the story was in no way predictable, I honestly wasn't sure how it would finish -especially as previous John Green books I've read have had darker themes than this one. One thing I enjoyed about the book was the footnotes (I read a lot of Pratchett as a teenager, so this is probably unsurprising, plus I can be a rather tangential person myself), which contained both facts that Colin knows and interesting narrative info. A major theme of the book was Colin realising that, despite his impressive brainpower and brilliant academic skills, most of his potential was not necessarily going to be of any help outside of education. This seems like a good message for young people (even those who aren't prodigies).
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2009
I really loved this book, one of the best i've read in a while. I really got stuck into it and it absorbed my effectively without having any moments where i lost touch of the book and felt pulled out from it. The characters are all enjoyable and far wittier than we're ever blessed to be on the spur of the moment. The repeated phrase of "not interesting Colin" uttered from one character to another as he spouts on again at another seemingly obscure fact is always funny and the 'not interesting' facts always are interesting (or that might be because i'm especially colin-like!)
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
If you had the opportunity to devise a theorem that could correctly predict the outcome of a romantic relationship, would you do it? If it worked, would you use it? Can it even be done? This is the problem plaguing Colin Singleton, recent high school graduate, nearly-former child prodigy, hopeful genius. Colin, you see, has a significant problem. He falls in love quite easily, which in and of itself isn't such a bad thing. The fact that all of his loves, nineteen of them to be exact, have been named Katherine can even be explained away by some form of twisted scientific method. What can't be explained, though, is why
Colin has been dumped by all nineteen of those Katherines.
When he's dumped by the love of his life, Katherine XIX, he finds himself in a bad place. He can no longer call himself a child prodigy, since he's graduated from high school. He's not a genius, because he's never come up with anything that will change the world. There's an empty place inside of him where his latest Katherine's love used to live, and he doesn't know what to do with himself. Until Hassan Harbish (Muslim, but not a terrorist) devises a way to get Colin out of his funk--a road
trip. With no destination in mind, the two set off in The Hearse, Colin's car, and go where the road leads them.
Where it leads them is a small town called Gutshot, Tennessee, where Colin gets the urge to see the supposed grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It's also where the two meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother, Hollis. Not to mention where they get to live in a giant Pepto Bismol-pink house on a hill, interview employees of a factory that makes tampon strings, and eat Monster Thickburgers at the local Hardees.
It's also the place where Colin decides to finish the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. Assign numerical value to different variables, plot it on a graph, and you'll be able to predict how long a relationship will last--and who will be the dumper, and who will be the dumpee. Except Colin forgot some pertinent information, like chance, and distorted memories, and the fact that love is never predictable. As Colin and Hassan learn a few things about life in the small town of Gutshot, we get to follow their journey of learning to grow up, to make a name for yourself, and how to matter as a person.
I loved AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, even more than Mr. Green's previous book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA. That book won the prestigious Michael L. Printz award, and I won't be surprised if this book is nominated, as well. This
story is funny, poignant, and informative. For example, if I hadn't read AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES I would never have known that:
1) Fetor hepaticus is a symptom of late-stage liver failure where your breath literally smells like a rotting corpse.
2) The junior senator from New Hampshire in 1873 was Bainbridge Wadleigh.
3) There is absolutely no scientific proof that drinking eight glasses of water a day will improve your health.
4) Dingleberries can be anagrammed into see inbred girl; lie breeds grin; leering debris; greed be nil, sir; be idle re. rings; ringside rebel; and residing rebel.
5) Nikola Tesla did a lot for electricity before Thomas Edison came along and stole some of his ideas, and he also loved pigeons.
6) I still suck at math.
Order this book today. It's great, you'll love it, and you'll actually learn stuff. Three for the price of one!
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"