An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Another really fun and funny book from one of my all-time favorite YA authors. If you haven’t read any John Green yet, you must! And although I thoroughly enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines (despite it’s unfortunate and ugly cover!—the paperback has a different cover and that was wise of the publisher), I’m going to ask that this not be your first John Green book. Try any of the other three I’ve reviewed and come to this one afterward.
An Abundance of Katherines is about Colin Singleton, child prodigy who is: just realizing that being a child prodigy doesn’t mean he’ll be a genius in adult life; always dumped by his girlfriends, nineteen of them, all of whom are named Katherine and the last of whom just dumps him on graduation night as the book opens; great at anagrams; trying to create a mathematical theorem about romantic relationships that will accurately predict how long the relationship will last and who will dump whom (with the hope that said theorem will boost him into genius status and make him memorable).
Since Colin has just been dumped, he and his best friend, Hassan, decided to go on a road trip in a car they have named Satan’s Hearse. Hassan, like Colin, is very bright, nerdy, and speaks multiple languages; unlike Colin, he is very lazy. His goal is not to go to college but to watch Judge Judy every day and do as little work as possible. His dad agrees to the road trip if Hassan will find a job. Luckily, both guys do find jobs—in Gutshot, Tennessee, they are hired by the owner of a factory that manufactures tampon strings to interview residents for a local history project.
Green makes a lot of the action very nerdy—on purpose. When the boys say something in Arabic or French, there are footnotes translating, and these are laugh-out-loud funny. These characters are just very witty. (The scene where they two are taken on a wild pig hunt is hilarious—worth the price of admission.) And even though they are nerds, they appeal to the girls with their clever jokes and gags as well as they sense of honor when that becomes necessary. So in Gutshot, Colin meets Lindsey. Can he find true romance with a girl who isn’t a Katherine?
Apparently, as Green explains in an after note, the math in the book is real. Flipping through the pages, you’ll see a couple of graphs—but don’t worry if you don’t like/get math. It isn’t necessary to the story at all. If you like math, there are a few pages at the end of the novel in which a friend of Green’s, who is a math wiz, explains the theorem. I have math anxiety, so I didn’t get far with this, and, as I said, none of the math is “integral” to the story ;-).