Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: An Abundance of Katherine's by John Green

Seventeen-year-old Colin Singleton has a problem. Nineteen of them in fact. He keeps falling for girls named Katherine. And he keeps getting dumped. And now he wants to know why. That's the premise of this clever, YA literary novel by John Green, author of the massively-popular-right-now The Fault in Our Stars which I read and reviewed on this blog a few weeks ago. And although The Fault in Our Stars may have required a bit more emotional involvement from readers, there is a lot to enjoy in this quirky tale that comes complete with footnotes, an appendix and a lot of clever usage of anagrams. (And for the record, I didn't just love this one because it has my name--sort of--in the title.)

Colin is a fairly annoying, inward thinking kid who takes a lot of things literally and tends to invest a bit too much emotionally in people. Colin's been hailed as a child prodigy through most of his life, but he is only just beginning to discover that he is a bit well, socially inept. Fortunately, his best mate, the Judge Judy loving Hassan, is on hand to try and pull him back into reality. And when Colin is dumped by the nineteenth girl named Katherine, Hassan proposes that Colin do something different for the summer--the pair go on a road trip. They soon find themselves working in a small town where the main industry is (amusingly) making strings for tampons and in the company of Lindsey Lee Wells, a girl who isn't Colin's type and is dating someone else--who just also happens to be named Colin--anyway. Lindsey helps Colin work on a mathematical theory as to why he keeps getting dumped by girls named Katherine and Colin makes some surprising, but important discoveries about life, loyalty and what really matters.

While by no means a page-turner, I loved An Abundance of Katherines for its cleverness and focus on two very unlikely and not always likeable characters. Green's talent is his ability to write convincing narratives featuring young people who are academically advanced and the unique struggles that they may face. Recommended.