An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
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Cannonball Read V: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

By Even Stevens | Book Reviews | April 19, 2013 | Comments ()


Colin Singleton is a high school senior who has just graduated. Colin leads a unique life: First of all, he was a child prodigy; he is a wealth of knowledge and knows at least eight languages. Second, Colin has dated (and been dumped by) nineteen Katherines in his life. Colin is devastated after Katherine number nineteen dumps him. In order to get him out of his slump his best friend Hassan, who is outspoken, unmotivated and loves Judge Judy (basically Colin's opposite in every way), convinces him to go on a road trip. Along the way they stop in Gutshot, TN to see the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and this is where their adventures begin and both boys starting learning to truly live their lives.

There's no skirting around it: An Abundance of Katherines is firmly in "quirky" territory. There are a lot of random facts that get thrown around and some absurdly unbelievable situations, but because Green is such a strong writer, he pulls it off with heart and humor. Colin is a fully realized character, one that quite frankly starts off a little bit unlikeable. He is fully immersed in his own self pity, and I simultaneously felt sorry for him and wanted to smack him and tell him to get his shit together. Thankfully, Hassan felt the same way I did and never let Colin stray into self pity territory if he could help it. And the great thing about Green's writing is that by the end, I was totally rooting for Colin and happy for how far he came from the start of the book.

This is another take on the coming-of-age genre, but thanks to Green's talent (if you can't tell, I love him), it feels fresh, and there were several for real laugh out loud moments. And the footnotes, oh the footnotes. These are what convey most of those random facts I was talking about, and the first one that defines the the German word "sitzpinkler" (a man who sits to pee) is most definitely my favorite, though they are all entertaining. This book is clever and has a lot of laughs and really gives a nice spin to the familiar trope of the coming of age road trip story.

I picked this up because I loved Green's The Fault in Our Stars so much, and while the books are very, very different, Green's voice shines through both. His writing is simple, effusive, and charming, and there's a love for his characters that permeates both books. If you like books with heart, and don't mind quirky, I'd say give this one a go.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of Even Stevens's reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I love John Green so much, I was so happy to see this and see how positive it is. Second the Will Grayson, Will Grayson comment, as well as all of David Leviathans other books. Both fantastic authors.

  • Even Stevens

    Oh man, I LOVE The Lover's Dictionary, so cute

  • lowercase_ryan

    Good review but I have to ask WTF?!?! how many times have I asked you for recommendations and this is the first I've heard you mention John Green. *harumph*

  • Even Stevens

    hey Ryan, you really should read John Green

  • lowercase_ryan

    *le sigh* still, good review :)

  • Mr. E

    I recently heard that a Hollywood studio had optioned The Fault In Our Stars. Hopefully Green keeps enough creative control and they don't ruin it and cast Kristen Stewart as Hazel.

  • They case Shailene Woodley, actually! Still looking for Augustus, though.

  • Even Stevens

    you bite your tongue, sir!

  • Irina

    My first John Green book was Looking For Alaska, which was interesting but not terribly satisfying. Then I read The Fault In Our Stars, which was simply too beautiful for words. And of course I wanted more, so I got all his other books. Unfortunately, reading the books out of order (as far as release dates go) only emphasizes how much better his writing has gotten over the years. Don't get me wrong, An Abundance of Katherines is great, but it's simply not in the same league as his later work. If you liked this, I totally recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson, it's also fun and light hearted but the story is much much better.

  • Even Stevens

    Good to know, I definitely plan to read more of his stuff

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