Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

2014-07-18 20.19.25

“I don’t think you can ever fill the empty space with the thing you lost…I don’t think your missing pieces ever fit inside you again once they go missing. Like Katherine. That’s what I realized: if I did get her back somehow, she wouldn’t fill the hole that losing her created.”

An Abundance of Katherines is about Colin Singleton, a really smart prodigy, who has just been dumped by the nineteenth girl that he’s dated named Katherine. Heartbroken, he embarks on a roadtrip with his best friend Hassan and they end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, the burial site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In Gutshot, Colin and Hassan find themselves a job, meet interesting characters, and get themselves into all sorts of hijinks while Colin tries to create a mathematical formula that can predict the outcome of all romantic relationships and win back Katherine XIX.

This is John Green’s second published novel and the third of his that I have read. I really like Green’s writing and his characters are always wonderfully real. I related a lot to Colin because like him, I have been recently dumped. Because of that, there’s a lot of quotes that stood out to me and that clawed at my heart. But I chose the one above because it’s a nice and profound moment of acceptance about the end of Colin’s relationship with Katherine. I haven’t quite gotten there yet but I do hope to get to this moment soon. Aside from our heartbrokenness, another reason that I relate a lot to Colin is because of his loneliness, social ineptness, and his need to make a difference in the world. Yeah, I got annoyed by Colin at times but I could always understand him, even in his most self-absorbed moments. Hassan, however, was my favorite character in the book. He completely stole the show and is, so far, one of John Green’s funniest and most interesting characters. I loved his and Colin’s friendship and I think they’re really good for each other and really funny together.

I’ve been meaning to read Katherines for a long time now but I’m glad that I picked it up at this particular moment in time. I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I had read it a year ago. I still would have found it funny and entertaining but I don’t think Colin and his musings and revelations on life would have clicked with me as much as it has now. It’s one of those books that means more to you when you read it at exactly the right point in your life. And this is it for me. There hasn’t been nor will there ever be a time in my life where I can connect more with Colin Singleton, recent dumpee and lonely prodigy. The plot of the novel isn’t all that remarkable, even a bit predictable at some points, but its really the characters that make it come alive. There’s no big resolution at the end, other than Colin finding peace in his circumstances and becoming less afraid of the future. But I like that there’s no big dramatic ending or phony feeling resolutions. At the heart of all of John Green’s novels is honesty. This is how life actually is; the ending isn’t an end but a beginning. These kids are 17 and this is just one summer in their lives.

Katherines is a cute, fun read and really hilarious. Definitely something that I would recommend for the summer.


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