When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washedup child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.
Okay, so, yay, I survived this book and actually understood the math! If I didn’t, I’d probably be ashamed for my university degree. It did bring up some horrible memories of Math 17, Math 53, Math 54, Math 54 (Take 2), Math 54 (Take…nevermind)…and Math 55, which I’d rather do without, but…yay for being able to understand the math! I know that shouldn’t be the thing that I take away from this book, but I’m just so relieved that I got it.
But hey, understanding the math isn’t a requirement for enjoying the book. Green wrote this in a way that is easy for math haters to get the gist of Colin’s Theorem, and also easy for math lovers to geek-out over all the graphs, equations, and proofs.
Anyway. This is the first full-length novel of John Green’s that I’ve read (I read his story on “Geektastic”), and I can tell why so many people like him. His writing style is very engaging, and he has a way with words that makes him so quotable.
“An Abundance of Katherines” has a cool premise, although, in keeping with the theme, you probably have to wonder at the statistical probability of someone falling in love (or some form of it) with 18 different girls named Katherine (not Catherine but KATHERINE), and getting into a relationship (or some form of it) with one of those twice. But hey, Green managed to suspend my disbelief, so…good job!
It took me a while to get into the narrative rhythm of the book for some reason; I guess I didn’t care too much about the incidental happenings and characters compared to Colin’s trials and tribulations. On hindsight, this was weird of me because while I ended up liking Colin, I had a difficult time, in the beginning, trying to empathize with his character. He was too quirky, and I hovered over my computer monitor being all judgmental, mentally chiding Colin “maybe this is why you were dumped by 19 girls.” I also found the footnotes and anagrams and the math just a little too gimmicky, but later on, when I got used to the narrative style, they didn’t bother me anymore. When I got that out of the way, I was able to power through the latter half of the book because the character interactions also became more interesting by then.
The plot was infinitely simpler than the math and was a little too predictable–no equations necessary–but that’s not a deal-breaker here because the story really is more about the characters’ metaphorical rather than their literal journeys.
I think one of the reasons why this book works on the character level is because of Green’s uncanny ability to capture the thoughts and emotions of young people and to express those in highlight-worthy words.
“I just want to do something that matters. Or be something that matters. I just want to matter.”
“I think we’re opposites, you and me,” she said finally. “Because personally I think mattering is a piss-poor idea. I just want to fly under the radar, because when you start to make yourself into a big deal, that’s when you get shot down. The bigger a deal you are, the worse your life is. Look at, like, the miserable lives of famous people.”
I also loved Green’s little shout-outs to books and storytelling.
That’s how I remember things, anyway. I remember stories. I connect the dots and then out of that comes a story. And the dots that don’t fit into the story just slide away, maybe. Like when you spot a constellation. You look up and you don’t see all the stars. All the stars just look like the big fugging random mess that they are. But you want to see shapes; you want to see stories, so you pick them out of the sky. Hassan told me once you think like that, too—that you see connections everywhere—so you’re a natural born storyteller, it turns out.
Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.
Friends who’ve read many of Green’s books tell me this is actually his “happiest”. Well, this did end happily, although (SPOILER ALERT!) the next question is: how will Colin fare in a long-distance relationship?
Pick up this book if:
- You like math and anagrams.
- You don’t necessarily love math or anagrams but you want to read something that showcases a different perspective on relationships.
- Your name is Katherine.
- You have been dumped before.