On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up 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 predicts the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.
First published: 2006 [Goodreads]
As you all probably know by now, I’m quite a John Green fan. I loved The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, and now I’ve finally read An Abundance of Katherines as well. I’ve heard several people say that if you’ve read one John Green novel you’ve read them all, and I have to say I kind of get where those people are coming from. However, I don’t agree at all. That’s like saying “if you’ve read one murder mystery novel, you’ve read them all”. Yes, there are certainly some similarities to be found between John’s novels, I won’t deny that, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good novels in their own right.
Having said that, I should now practice what I preach and focus on An Abundance of Katherines itself. I really enjoyed this story, although it took me a little while to really get into it. I think I was half way through when the urge to actually keep on reading until I finished it hit me. I think that was mostly due to Colin as a character. Colin was once a child prodigy but now feels as if he will never accomplish anything that will matter. This gets even worse after Katerhine XIV dumps him, and he turns into a bit of a whiny mess. He admits to being so himself, and the whole whininess is definitely a character flaw that might make the novel less enjoyable to some people (that’s what I read in some Goodreads reviews, anyway). It didn’t really bother me, personally. It turns Colin into a bit of an annoying character at times, but that just gave more depth to his personality, in my opinion.
Another aspect of Colin’s personality that I very much enjoyed was his passion for anagramming. When he gets nervous or upset (or just when he feels like it), he starts to make anagrams of words or phrases he hears around him. That was highly entertaining to me, as a lover of language myself. Plus, I found it to be a fun and original character quirk, or hobby. It completely fits with Colin’s personality. He’s a bit awkward at times, and doesn’t always understand that other people might not find the same things interesting as he does.
That’s where Colin’s best friend Hassan comes in, who is definitely my favourite character of the novel. Hassan quite simply says “Not interesting” when Colin goes off on one of his tangents, and balances out Colin’s whininess perfectly with his airy personality and his ever present humour. This does not mean he is the stereotypical funny sidekick, although I would’ve liked to find out a bit more about his character.
One thing I particularly loved about the set up of this story is how we gradually find out more about the Katherines, and about how this awkward, whiny guy ended up dating nineteen of them. It was nice to have the accounts of his road trip and stay in Gutshot, Tennessee interspersed with stories of how he met, (sometimes) loved and lost all of the Katherines.
While I didn’t love An Abundance of Katherines as much as I loved John’s other novels, I definitely liked it a lot. John’s writing style will never cease to amaze me, and this novel is, like the others, filled with beautifully written sentences. An Abundance of Katherines is a very lovely read and I recommed reading it to anyone who likes John’s other writing. If you’re new to his books, I’d recommend starting with one of his other novels.