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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Review: An Abundance of Katherine's by John Green

Synopsis: From Goodreads
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is 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 Katherine's. 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 by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska.

I was absolutely baffled as to why I did not enjoy this book as much as Paper Towns and have been struggling with this review for a while now. I have even been dreaming about it, so yes you can expect the story to be a good one. John Green's writing style is pure genius it draws you in, makes you immerse yourself into the lives of the characters, giving you the complete package. So why did I not enjoy it as much as Paper Towns you ask yourself, after experiencing a bit of an epiphany I realised that it was due to the fact that I found Colin, the male protagonist, extremely irritating. So much so that if I could I would have physically shaken him. Powerful writing indeed. Plus the irony of Colin's surname makes me giggle.

The story centres around Colin's obsessive compulsion to date girls by the name of Katherine (which must be spelt with a K). It is almost as if he has blinkers on to the rest of the female population, making this point one of my irritation with Colin. A child prodigy he feels like he is not living up to his early academic promise and pushes himself extremely hard with all types of academic goals. He has a schedule he likes to keep, is very goal orientated probably as a result of his parents constantly driving him from a young age. Yet I did not really get the feeling of Colin being naturally gifted, it felt as if he was just a product of his hard work, the second point of irritation. Colin feels insecure about almost everything in his life, he is exceptionally needy, constantly looking for reassurances from other people (from this point I am sure you can see why he has been dumped 19 times). Yet he does not relate to people well, he doesn't seem to consider other people's feelings only his own.

His best friend, Hassan, is Colin's polar opposite. Chubby, a slacker with a penchant for junk food and a sarcastic wit. I can see how they became friends due to both being outsiders and how they probably compliment each other. Hassan helps Colin relate to people and appreciate humour.  However, I did find his reverse racism rather uncomfortable, with the amount of political correctness that is in today's society it is unacceptable to make any form of racist comment even as a joke, yet reverse racism is seen as acceptable. This bothers me on a multitude of levels, which I will not bore you with at this point, lets just say that I believe all people are equal so should be treated the same.

Following Colin's latest break up, Hassan convinces him to go on a road-trip. although the road-trip doesn't take them that far in miles but their inner journey gives their lives a whole new meaning.

I adored the whole Gutshot scenario, the people were so down-to-earth, approachable and easy to relate to. The whole ideal of caring for others in your community was at the forefront, a lovely ideal of a by gone era in most places.

The relationships and interactions of all the characters was so well developed the movie in my imagination was three dimensional. Via these interactions Colin achieves his own epiphany and tries to capture the nature of his break-ups in a mathematical formula, which would predict when and how a couple would break-up. The maths aspect within the story was phenomenal, even J was impressed  (he is the resident math geek) and you can certainly see how math can be developed to workout almost any situation, This did remind me of the program Numbers where a math genius works with the FBI and writes a book on how to use math to predict relationships.

Although the book is written in 3rd person narrative it is mainly focalised from Colin's point of view. The narrator is a background speaker that really comes to witty life with the footnotes. I actually imaged John Green's voice reading them to me.

I absolutely loved the moral given at the ending of this story, I am not going to tell you what it is but it was very poignant.

So overall I really enjoyed the story, loved the writing style but found Colin supremely irritating. Yeah, I know its just me : D


  1. Hmm i was considering buying this book now im not so sure, i loved looking for Alaska i mean how can you not?! and i have paper towns on my shelf which i had good feelings about, shame some things brought this book down, but overall sounds like you enjoyed it yay! :D

  2. Weirdly, the thing that is intriguing me most about this one is the maths. I think if I enjoy Paper Towns I'll give this one a try. Thanks for the interesting and honest review!

  3. I didn't love this one as much as Paper Towns or Looking For Alaska either, because I just didn't relate very well to Colin. It's funny and I like a lot of the relationships, but it wasn't as emotionally charged as John Green's other books. Once I got past that, I liked it for its own geekiness and that bit at the end that you hinted about? LOVED it to bits.


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