Hannah's Reviews > An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
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's review
Oct 31, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: grad-school-schmad-school
Read in November, 2010

My YA Lit book for the course paper. I chose it because it sounded creative and funny: the circumstances themselves of Colin dating 19 girls named Katherine who all dumped him, the road trip (even though for some reason I really don't like the "road trip" genre in general and try to avoid it at all costs), and plus, I liked the cover (iTunes rip off that it is). It was somewhat different than I expected. I hadn't really counted on Colin being somewhat socially inept, and it's interesting to see the ways that he's almost Aspberger-ish-feeling sometimes with his inability to understand what is and is not interesting to most other people and the way that he gets sucked into his Theorem and his "markers" for his accomplishments. I was also a little surprised by how much more... grown-up it felt than many of the young adult books that I remember reading as a teen (granted, I guess I'm thinking more middle school than high school, but still). The Sweet Valley twins were never mock cursing (for the first half of the book, I was convinced that maybe Green had to use "fugging" instead of the real deal in order to get his book into the category of YA Lit, and even though Colin and Hassan explained that it's an homage, I still wonder if it wasn't a conveniently explained-away choice...) or dealing with situations that were so sexually charged. (Not to say that I sometimes didn't think that the Sweet Valley twins lived on another planet, so this was a lot more true-to-life in all of those aspects.)

I'm still somewhat surprised that I didn't really like this book, and I'm trying to figure out why. I mostly liked the characters of Lindsey and Katherine XIX (although Lindsey's identity crisis started getting to me a little bit towards the end), and appreciated how the "missing piece" kid's story/Franz Ferdinand/Gutshot were all woven thematically throughout the book (clever, Mr. Green, clever). I liked the premise of Colin being a child prodigy, the character of Hollis and her secret, and the various scenes filled with "are they going to hook up?" tension between characters. I even liked Colin's sentimental emo-ism and his flashbacks to the previous Katherines, since they were somewhat cloaked in mystery throughout the book. I think what tipped the scales for me in terms of not liking it was that I didn't love the characters of Colin or Hassan that much (Are they relatable? Yes. More or less interesting? ...yes... Do I care about them? ...almost? I feel like they're acquaintances that I met and thought were okay to hang out with for one night, but wouldn't want to spend more time with.) I was also disappointed that I just didn't find the book all that funny. I guess "sitzpinkler" and "pupillary sphincter" were just supposed to slay me, but I made it through the book with a smirk or two and one almost laugh. I liked "dingleberries" at least, but it was more of a "spot the recurring theme" amusement than funny. Not my type of humor, I guess.

So, where does this leave me? I liked the theme of identity and how that played out throughout the book, though in both Colin and Lindsey's cases, it starts getting a little old (who's to say that it doesn't get old with our friends when we're going through it, though, which is what Hassan is a good reminder of). I did appreciate the graphs (even though I definitely got lost with the math, and temporarily stumbled on and off the right paths again after reading the appendix), though I wasn't so much a fan of the anagrams. Unfortunately I don't think I'd read another John Green book, but that I can honestly put an "unfortunately" in front of this sentence makes me feel better about writing it.

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message 1: by Thena (new) - added it

Thena Course paper? You'll have to let me know what you think. I'm reading his other one on the course paper list.

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