Book Review #15: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Overall Rating: 5.75/10
Sample Passage: Colin thought about the dork mantra: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. What a dirty lie… ”I love you so much and I just want you to love me like I love you,” he said as softly as he could. ”You don’t need a girlfriend, Colin. You need a robot who says nothing but ‘I love you.’” And it felt like being stoned and sticked from the inside, a fluttering and then a sharp pain in his lower rib cage, and then he felt for the first time that a piece of his gut had been wrenched out of him. She tried to get out as quickly and painlessly as possible, but after she begged curfew, he began to cry. She held his head against her collarbone. And even though he felt pitiful and ridiculous, he didn’t want it to end, because he knew the absence of her would hurt more than any breakup ever could.
Genre: Chick Lit and Realistic Fiction
Ages: 14 and up
Ages: 14 and up
Published: 2006 by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group
Number of Pages: 215 | Hardcover Edition
Number of Pages: 215 | Hardcover Edition
Summary: Child prodigy Colin Singleton has been dumped nineteen times, all by girls named Katherine, and K19 was the last straw for him. Depressed and hurt, he takes a road trip with his best friend Hassan. They aim to go nowhere in particular, but they end up in a small town called Gunshot where they find a job and lodging. Not only is Colin out to find relief from his Katherine depression, he is also out to find a eureka moment, a moment of great discovery that defines his life. With the help of a couple of new people and random situations, Colin might just get over K19 and all the girls before her and discover something amazing about relationships and how they work.
Review: I checked this book out from my school’s library on November 8th, and I just now finished it. This has nothing to do with my inability to read fast, it has to do with the drive I had to actually finish this book. You can imagine the motivation I had to start the book, with The Fault In Our Stars being so amazing and all, but all the John Green books I read are pretty awful in comparison to that. The Fault in the Stars is hard to beat, so I’m not going to compare the two. Okay? Here it goes. …………………..yeah this book was still pretty bad.
The plot wasn’t engaging from the start. The idea of a guy being dumped by nineteen girls, all with the same name, isn’t really appealing to me. I thought it was going to be one of those sob stories, and it definitely included those, but thankfully it isn’t the main idea of the book. When Colin and Hassan go on their road trip, I expected things to pick up and move at a little bit faster pace, but unfortunately the boredom just increased. There is no action, and there isn’t even the occasional semi-conflict Green sometimes throws in his stories until the climax. An Abundance of Katherines was the definition of the Plateau Effect, where the whole plot line is almost completely flat.
Green usually has a bigger picture for all his plots, a big realization that a less-than-perfect character has at the end. In An Abundance of Katherines, Colin was trying to figure out a way to predict relationships by developing a Theorem on a graph. I won’t tell you what he realized at the end, but the build up of the big epiphany was more interesting than the actual Big Idea. I was quite disappointed with the ending. It resolved most things, but I just expected a little more of a Wow factor, of which there was almost none.
The characters were somewhat annoying. Don’t even get me started on Colin. He was such a weak character emotionally that it’s hard to even stand reading about him. He feels sorry for himself a lot, and he’s self-centered. He’s not a very good friend to Hassan either. Throughout the novel, Colin irritated me, making the novel irritate me. I also didn’t like Lindsay, one of the people they meet at Gunshot, a whole lot, but I would have liked to see more development in her character. I would have liked to see a bigger variety of characters and different personalities, but I just didn’t.
Hassan was the only character that I strongly liked. Sometimes he even made me laugh out loud, and I think he’s a good comic relief for readers. He’s a very good friend to Colin, and despite his laziness, I found him the most entertaining out of any character in the book. He made the story better just by being around and sometimes setting Colin in his place. He could have used a little less foul language, but I suppose it added to his personality. He’s hilarious and amusing.
The plot wasn’t the most original thing I have ever read. The only part of the plot that didn’t seem cliche was the nineteen Katherines, I had never read that in a book before. The rest just seemed overused and overdone, and I was beginning to feel weary and bored just reading the book. I wanted something fresh and original from Green: An Abundance of Katherines just wasn’t it.
If you read this book, read it for the writing. Green’s writing has always been so elegant and flawless. Though the writing in this book was a little jumbled and mixed up, it was still better than the writing I have seen in most young adult books. The words may not have flown effortlessly across the pages and into the reader’s mind, but you could still connect with Colin, no matter how annoying he could get. The word choice Green uses is good too, it’s not too repetitive or irritating. I like Green’s balance of description and dialogue.
Overall: Coming from John Green, an author I highly respect, this book was not very good at all. The combination of a seriously boring plot, a less-than-perfect Big Idea, lack of variety in the characters, and cliches throughout the book make this one to maybe pass by if you order or receive a John Green box set for Christmas. The writing is probably the only thing that would make An Abundance of Katherines worthwhile.
Coming Up Next: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin on December 28th