Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath. [First Sentence]

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Speak, 2006
Fiction (YA); 236 pgs

John Green is one of those authors whose name keeps popping up on the blogosphere. I admit I didn't take much interest initially. Then my husband pointed me in the direction of John Green's blog and his video-reviews. Suddenly, I knew I had to read at least one John Green novel. But which one? Upon Elizabeth's recommendation, I decided to start with An Abundance of Katherines. And what a treat it was!

I knew from his blog that John Green was a funny person and it comes through in his writing as well. What I especially liked about John Green's An Abundance of Katherines is that it was smart and funny. It was also an endearing story, one about two friends who have just graduated from high school: Colin Singleton, the prodigy with a penchant for anagrams, whose heart has been broken for the nineteenth time by the nineteenth Katherine, and Hassan, his always joking best friend who doesn't want to go to college despite the pressures from his family. Hassan suggests a road trip is in order that summer and the two friends head off, leaving behind Chicago. While Colin passed on the opportunity to see the world's largest crucifix in Kentucky, his curiosity got the better of him when he saw the sign for the Eternal Resting Place of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The two friends make their way to the small town of Gutshot, Tennessee as a result.

After a fall while on the way to the gravesite of the Archduke, Colin has the "Eureka!" moment he has been waiting for all his life. He is sure he can work out a mathematical equation to predict the outcome of any relationship. He calls it The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.

Hassan and Colin agree to stick around Gutshot for a little while, after being offered a job and a place to stay. There they meet the beautiful chameleon Lindsay Lee Wells, her mother, Hollis, The Other Colin, and various other interesting characters.

Colin is not the easiest person to like, but then, he is more at home with facts and figures than he is with people. He can be very literal at times and occasionally comes across as self-centered. That self-centeredness stems more from insecurity, however, than arrogance. As smart as Colin is, he never quite believes he's good enough and needs constant reassurance.

His best friend, Hassan, on the other hand, is instantly likable. He is funny and charming. He offers a good balance to Colin. Whereas Colin takes life so seriously, Hassan has a tendency to do the opposite. Where Colin is driven, Hassan lacks ambition. At least on the surface.

The funniest moments in the novel involved both Colin and Hassan. I loved how they played off each other. The story itself was one I think many of us can relate to: the sting of heartbreak and the search for direction in our lives. Not everything always works out as we might hope, and sometimes the answers we are searching for are right in front of us. I enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines quite a bit and look forward to reading more by John Green in the future.

DFTBA fellow Nerdfighters!

Rating: * (Very Good)

You can learn more about John Green and his books on the author's website. You can also catch him over at Vlog Brothers.

Source: Book purchased for and by myself.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. That is a fantatastic first line - one of the best that I have heard of!

    Thanks for sharing this interesting review


  2. I know, Green has his fans doesn't he? I've got Paper Towns on my shelf, waiting for an opportunity to be loved!

  3. YAY for another Nerdfighter out there :) I really liked An Abundance of Katherines - there's a lot of fun and nerdy in there. I prefer Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns though. You should definitely read more!

  4. Is this the book where the people were staring at you? LOL

    Very interesting. I'll put it on the list.

  5. I liked this one too. Listened to the audio and laughed. You will enjoy John's other books too.

  6. I just reviewed Paper Towns by John Green today and loved it. The Abundance... is in my TBR pile and I am looking forward to reading it.

  7. And yet another to add to my TBR... sigh. :) Thanks for the review!

  8. I haven't read any of his stuff but he's on the radar! Your review is moving me a few steps closer! Great review.

  9. I liked the audio version of this one Wendy. I don't read muich YA, but this was suggested by a few peopel and I thought it was good. Thanks for the great review, and letting me revive the experience once again...LOL

  10. I'd love to read this. I've not read anything by Green before. Given that I have a teenage son at home I think I could relate to some of this.

  11. I have read and loved Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and this one, and Katherines is my favorite. I thought it was hysterical - the scene where they go hog-hunting had me in stitches!

  12. I have always wanted to read this book, and I think my initial attraction was the weirdness of the title. I am glad you liked it and will be looking for it. It sounds like a very interesting read, and one that I am sure to like. Thanks for sharing this great review!

  13. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this so much. I bought it for the title alone, even though he spelled Kathryn wrong!

  14. I don't know how I haven't read one of his books yet! I do have Paper Towns on my shelves somewhere and should dig it out. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. Sounds great!

  15. I've only read one John Green book so far (Looking for Alaska) and I enjoyed it. I've this book as well as Paper Towns in my pile so I look forward to reading them.

  16. And I liked his other two books more than this one, so I hope you continue to read his books!

  17. I've heard great things about his writing too. For some reason I haven't found the time to read his books yet, and I need to remedy that. Glad to see that you liked this one.

  18. I've heard good things about this one. I did look for it a while back, but can't remember if it was checked out or the library didn't have a copy. Need to try again!

  19. I see what you mean about the cover of people staring at you... My heart actually beat a little faster looking at the one you posted here. I haven't read any of Green's books but plan to do so. I've read your reviews about them and they're all GREAT!

  20. I think I've heard of the author but haven't read any of his books.
    This sounds like a cool read, interesting and funny both.
    I see my library has it online audio, and three other of his books.
    I'll have to check them out!

  21. Aw, I actually really liked Colin. But I agree with you on the book overall. So good!

  22. I read Paper Towns this month and I definitely want more John Green!

  23. Hannah - The entire novel is so well written, Hannah. I really enjoyed it.

    Sandy - I definitely want to read Paper Towns one of these days. I am resisting the urge to run out and buy a copy so I have it handy when I'm ready. LOL I look forward to reading your thoughts on it when you get to it.

    Clover - Yes! I may not be a math whizz, but I even enjoyed reading the appendix about the equation. :-) If you liked his other two even better then it sounds like I have a lot to look forward to!

    Kay - Yes! This was the book where the girls were staring out at me. LOL It was very disconcerting. ;-)

    Nise' - I'm really looking forward to reading more by him. I'm glad it's just as good in audio as on paper.

    Jess - I'll be over to read your review of Paper Towns soon. I'm so behind! I hope you will enjoy An Abundance of Katherines as much as I did when you get to it!

  24. Nicole - Anything I can do to help. ;-)

    Andi - I'm glad I finally succumbed to the pressure to give him a try.

    Diane - I don't read a lot of YA either and I think that's probably why I put off starting this one so long. I do like John Green's writing style though so I'll be reading more by him.

    Kathleen - I think you probably could relate with a teen son at home. :-)

    Carrie - Me too! I loved that scene. LOL

    Heather - There's a quirkiness to this book that is quite appealing, I think.

  25. Kathy - The title is very catchy!

    Iliana - I am glad I finally took time to read one of his books. I hope you enjoy Paper Towns when you get to it!

    Melody - I've heard such great things about Looking for Alaska. I can't wait to read that one.

    Jill - It sounds like I have a couple of great books to look forward to then!

    Alyce - The author seems like such a funny and nice guy. I am glad I finally took a chance on one of his books.

  26. Jenclair - I hope you do get a chance to give this one a try!

    Alice - There's another cover to the book that is a lot less threatening. No eyes staring out at you. LOL Maybe I should have gotten that copy.

    Carla - From what others have said, the audio version of this one is good. I hope you'll like it if you are able to get to it!

    Ana - I didn't mean to imply that I didn't like Colin; I actually did very much. I just think his personality was such that he didn't always make it easy.

    Bybee - He's a very talented author, I think!

  27. I'm not too enthralled by this author, but haven't shut the door either. I think the audiobook will be my best bet.

  28. Joy - This particular book might not appeal to everyone--even the author when I mentioned to him that I wanted my husband to read it stressed the fact that there was a lot of math in it (to which my husband replied that he loves that kind of stuff). I haven't yet read anything else by him so we'll see how that goes. I did like this one a lot though.

  29. Oooooo I like the idea of "a lot of math in it." Now I'm more intrigued. :)

  30. Nice review :) Here's mine: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/06/abundance-of-katherines-by-john-green.html Have a nice day!


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