Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be 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, 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 will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
Let me start this review by saying that I’m a huge John Green fan. He’s definitely my favourite author and he has a beautiful and individual writing style which caused me to devour his other four books in no time at all when I started reading them a couple of years ago . An Abundance of Katherines is no exception.
AAoK (I’m going to start referring to it like this because the title is too long) has all the features of a perfect John Green novel. The aforementioned beautiful writing, interesting characters, charts and diagrams and the ability to make me laugh out loud periodically (which many few books hold the power to do) but AAoK has a few special tricks up its sleeve. Footnotes, anagrams and math.
I’ve never been a huge fan of footnotes because I can find that they interrupt my reading process and this can be quite irritating, but I actually really loved the footnotes in this novel. Whether they were defining a word (as Colin speaks many languages like English, Arabic, French and German), containing a chart or explaining something, I found them interesting and useful, though not intrusive. If I’d have skipped them out, it wouldn’t have affected by grasp of the plot at all so if you really can’t stand footnotes don’t let yourself use that as an excuse to avoid this book.
Colin is an expert anagrammer and frequently anagrams words and phrases in the novel. I stopped at several points whilst reading to ponder and admire John Green’s genius in his choice of words and placement of anagrams.
I am no fan of math and try to stay well away from it, but this book sheds a new light on its uses as Colin applies it to real life which I found fascinating (as I’m renowned for asking “When will I ever need this in life?” in maths lessons.) Colin is trying to create a formula to predict the longevity of a relationship and there’s a real formula in the book that you can try out. If you are interested in maths there’s a pretty detailed description at the end of the book written by Daniel Biss who wrote the formula John Green uses in the novel.
One thing I loved about AAoK is that John Green decided to make Colin’s best friend a Muslim. I rarely come across Muslim characters in YA or in fact all fiction. What I loved about John Green’s portrayal of Hassan though was that he isn’t defined by his religion but equally his faith and culture come through and are visible.
One criticism of John Green that I hear over and over again, is that he doesn’t write realistic teenage characters. I agree that a lot of his characters are unlike your average teenager (like Augustus Waters and Margo Roth Spiegelman) and Colin Singleton probably is the same (as a child genius) however I disagree that this is a negative thing. I have only read one YA book that perfectly portrays teens and that is Solitaire by Alice Oseman,who wrote that book as a teenager herself. John Green’s characters are interesting and dynamic and as someone who reads for escapism, I’m not 100% focussed on the believability of the characters.
The biggest thing I want to emphasise about AAoK is that it’s different from other John Green Novels, but I think it’s just as good a read as The Fault in Our Stars or Paper Towns. There are now two film adaptations of John’s books as well as at least one on the way. The prospect of an An Abundance of Katherines film worries me slightly because I don’t know how it will translate on screen. Even though I thought the TFIOS film was very well done, I feel like, especially in the marketing, John Green books are transformed into stereotypical teen movies and I don’t want that to cause the beautiful language to be watered down.
10/10 for An Abundance of Katherines
It could quite possibly be my favourite John Green book of them all (though I probably say that about all of them)