Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
I had an acquaintance ask me if I had read anything by local author John Green. In truth, I had never heard of him. But after doing some investigating, I think I might be the only one.
Turns out John Green and his brother have sort of taken the internet nerds by storm with their video series and their relatively new site Nerdfighters. But John is also really well known for his young adult books.
While most recommended starting with Looking for Alaska, I started with An Abundance of Katherines. I’ll admit, in a very nerdy way, I picked it because I loved the mathematical treatment of the headline. The former graphic designer in me won out and I picked the book whose cover impressed me most. (I know I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?)
An Abundance of Katherines is the story of a young man, Colin Singleton, who is intellectually brilliant but socially sort of inept. His downfall, apparently, seems to be women named Katherine as he has dated and been dumped by nineteen of them. So when the latest one breaks his heart, his best friend, Hassan, suggests a road trip to change the scenery.
Their road trip finds them in a small town called Gutshot. Colin’s fixation on Katherines plays a strong part in their time there. He spends his time there devising an equation to predict how long people will stay together and who will end up dumping whom. Along the way, the boys forge some new friendships and learn about life and love.
In truth, I had a fundamental issue with this story that bothered me the entire time. If Colin was as socially inept as the author suggest, how on earth did he end up with nineteen girlfriends before high school graduation? And quite frankly, he’s kind of an annoying character to begin with. I can’t imagine girls would have been interested in him in the first place. His claim to fame was that he could anagram anything. That sounds like prime dating material to me!
What I did love, though, was the author introducing a best friend who is Muslim. It didn’t feel contrived at all as the friendship between the two seemed logical and genuine. And while Hassam followed some traditional Islamic rules, he was still a typical teenager whose stomach and hormones won out over religion.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad first exposure to him, but people are still saying I should read Looking for Alaska so that’s next on my list.
Note: Despite the headline, I’m now at my halfway mark for the year, having completed 26 books already. Goodreads says I’m about 5 books off pace. I think this year might be the year I actually make 52 books in 52 weeks.