An Abundance of Katherines
Date: September 9th 2006
Genre: YA- Contemporary
Colin Singleton is struggling with his lack of genius. As a child prodigy rapidly approaching adulthood, he’s in danger of outliving what has always made him special. So many child prodigies spark early and then fade away into normalcy never having accomplished anything remarkable enough to earn the title of genius. The only thing special he can lay claim to is having been dumped. Being dumped is something Colin is extremely proficient at, in fact, he just got dumped again. Colin has been dumped nineteen times by girls named Katherine.
“But monotony doesn’t make for painlessness. In the first century CE, Roman authorities punished St. Appollonia by crushing her teeth one by one with pliers. Colin often thought about this in relationship to the monotony of dumping: we have thirty two teeth. After a while, having each tooth individually destroyed probably gets repetitive, even dull. But it never stops hurting.”
True to John Green form, this story is dripping with wit, originality, nonsense and a lot of stone cold reality. It’s beautiful enough to make you appreciate math. Yes, math. Using his nineteen failed relationships with Katherines, Colin has come up with a mathematical formula to determine the end of a relationship. He thinks that quite possibly, his formula could be a stroke of pure genius. More importantly, it’s a great distraction from the fact that he’s pretty much heartbroken. Colin, and the story are both instantly likeable. I loved every silly word of it.
“The problem exactly is that she dumped me. That I’m alone. Oh my God, I’m alone again. And not only that, but I’m a total failure in case you haven’t noticed. I’m washed up. I’m former. Formerly the boyfriend of Katherine XIX. Formerly a prodigy. Formerly full of potential. Currently full of shit.”
That’s pretty much becoming the norm with me and John Green. He writes something and I fall madly in love with it. Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson- both were everything I could every want out of a story in entirely different ways. Where my last two Green reads were clearly tackling serious issues (and expertly done mind you) An Abundance of Katherines was a purely for fun read.
I feel confident claiming that this is one of those wonderful YA books that truly makes it impossible to not love YA. All the paranormal crap and silly vampire nonsense, it’s just mindless entertainment that means absolutely nothing, but John Green’s writing is a reminder of why I love YA stories, and stories in general. The way an author can manipulate language, twist words and recreate an already established world in such a new and exciting way, never ceases to amaze me. With YA you have the added element of possibility, of a completely open and limitless future that has even an old fart like me believing that the whole world is still out there waiting for me and it is going to be a great adventure. I’ll read this book over and over again until it finally sinks in that I shouldn’t try to grow up so fast.