An Abundance of Katherines is the first book I read by John Green. I saw the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars and could already predict how this romantic drama would turn out (
sick girl survives, healthy boy dies). I’m not into weepy stories, especially not when they’re that predictable. So that turned me off John Green’s books for a while. But I’ve heard so much good about his books, and I love him as a blogger and online personality. So when a colleague told me she liked this particular book about the Katherines best, I decided to give it a try.
As the title says, this is a book about a number of Katherines. But most of all, this is Colin’s story. He’s a child prodigy, growing up and trying to find a way to matter. His first girlfriend was named Katherine, and ever since then, they’ve weirdly all been named Katherine. And The nineteenth one really broke his heart!
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 or shit.
So, to escape his heartache, he decides to go for a ride with his best friend Hassan, which then turns into a road trip. They end up in a small town and take a tour to the tomb of the Archduke that started the World War. They meet Lindsey, a local girl whose mom owns the factory where the entire town works. She works in the local shop, gives the tours, is dating the high school quarterback and plans on never leaving.
Hassen and Collin decide to hang around and help Lindsey’s mom with a project where they interview the town’s people to find out what the factory has meant for them and their families. In the meantime, Collin will be working on a new theory that will be able to predict what will happen in a relationship and figure out who dill dump who, by studying his own relationships.
So Collin is a bit of a troubled kid. He has been homeschooled and is smart as a whip. But he is now struggling because his time of being a prodigy is over. He is trying to find a way to matter, to become a genius and to do something meaningful with his life. This road trip is him taking a break from his life to heal from his break-up and to figure out what is next. And it appears that this town and this girl are exactly what he needs.
How do you stop being terrified of getting left behind and ending up by yourself forever and not meaning anything to the world?
Collin throws himself into his work and slowly gets over his Katherine. He also grows closer and closer to Lindsey. Together with Hassan, the three new friends live plenty of adventures, including a boar hunt and having their asses kicked by Lindsey’s boyfriend when they find him cheating on her. In the end, the boys both grow up a lot, Hassan has his first girlfriend, Collin finds love with Lindsey, and both of them figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life.
This is definitely not your typical coming of age story. It’s about an adolescent who needs to make decisions on what he wants to do with his life. University obviously, but where, and what to study? Collin is smart, has a way with words (especially anagrams) and loves math. He is a child prodigy, which means he learned things faster than others. But is that all he will ever be? These are the things Collin is struggling with. He doesn’t necessarily want to become a genius (who, unlike prodigies, create and not just regurgitate), but he does want to find a way to matter. He wants his life to mean something. So he takes a road trip to figure some things out, ending up in exactly the right place and with exactly the right girl. I liked it! The Arabic words and Collin’s swear words tripped me up a little, but as soon as I got used to it, it wasn’t a problem anymore. I liked Collin’s quirky ways, adored his love of words and anagrams and skipped over the math. It did remind me quite a bit of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, which I also really loved. If you like quirky boys and words, this is a must-read!
For my first John Green novel, I liked it much more than I expected after TFIOS… Anyway, I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed opinions on Goodreads, I get the feeling this is one of those “love it” or “hate it” books. I was in the “love it” camp! How about you?