Aaron Vincent's Reviews > An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
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's review
Feb 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-read, contemporary-ya
Read in January, 2011

Originally posted on Guy Gone Geek.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you probably already know that a) I LOVE Paper Towns, b) how much of it is woven into my DNA, c) John Green is so awesome I want to have his baby, and d) why am I even allowed to tell my thoughts online? I think that not finishing The John Green Trinity is one of the most horrible crimes one person can ever commit, and I am guilty of that. My alibi which is his books are not abundant at our local bookstores is not strong enough to acquit myself from this crime. Thankfully, before a nerdfighter police caught me and lock me up inside the Cellar of Suck, or worse, sentence me to Death by Lameness, I finally found a copy of Abundance of Katherines that saved me from that kind of demise.

Colin Singleton is the epitome of the infamous John Green Geeky Guy Formula — he is a prodigy. He is fluent in 12 different languages, reads 400 pages of a book per day, and can anagram almost anything 1 . When it comes to relationships, he only dates girls with a name that is Katherine. He is recently dumped by Katherine XIX, The Great One. He is devastated, the puking-and-lying-facedown-on-the-carpet kind of devastated. To give him a distraction his best-friend, Hassan, suggested that they should go in a road trip. They end up on a small town called Gutshot, Tennesse where a woman offered them a job to interview all the town folks so they can compile an oral history of the town. But Collin is not interested in compiling an oral history. He is desperate to finish his Theorem of Underlying Katherines Predictability that will predict the outcome of a relationship between a Dumper and a Dumpee. He believes that this will fulfill his potential as a genius, make himself matter, and hopefully, win back the heart of the girl he loves.

Having read both Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, I was surprised when I discovered that I’m not inside Colin’s head. It’s a book written by John Green and there’s the geeky guy, the smartypants best-friend and the car so why am I not inside the geeky guy’s head? It doesn’t make any sense! Eventually though, it did. Colins can’t tell a story for he always branch off to telling trivia instead of finishing it. A novel told in Colins’ perspective will be more of a textbook than a contemporary novel.

Once I got past my initial shock, I found myself back in the familiar John Green territory. There’s the laughs, lots and lots of laughs courtesy of Colins and Hassan’s witty banters. But these laughs weren’t placed in the book just for entertainment’s sake. Through this laughs we also get to see what kind of person the characters are and how strong Colins and Hassan’s relationship is. Colins is not my favorite John Green protagonist for he is a bit self-centered and though he seems to have swallowed the entire volume of encyclopedia, he is clueless that he’s clueless. Neither does Hassan is my favorite best friend. But this I can say, Colins and Hassan’s bond as best-friends is my favorite and one that I am envious of. You can feel that their friendship is much deeper than the extent of this 300+ pages book. Colins has his faults and Hassan also has his own, but they don’t take any shit from one another. They tell it straight to the other’s face what’s wrong with him just like any real friend should do. I am now talking about their friendship as if they are real people. It goes to show the real magic of John Green. He can make you care about his characters and believe as if they are real.

Of course, this would not be a John Green book if it doesn’t explore something profound. (I wonder if I can review a book from him without mentioning his name in EVERY single paragraph of the review.) Abundance of Katherines, among other themes presented, deals with the uniqueness of each person. We meet people and lose some of them eventually. Some of those we lose left a special mark on us. We tend to look for someone just like them. We usually get frustrated because no matter how hard we look we can’t seem to find someone who perfectly fits the description. It’s a truth that we have to learn to accept that no two person are identical. Each person’s uniqueness doesn’t end with the patterns in our thumbprint. It’s our entirety that sets us apart from one another. It is called identity. All we have to do is embrace it, and damn those who tries to take it away from us. As I’ve said, this is not the only thing we can take from this novel. There’s bunch of other themes that John Green handled brilliantly, but this is the one that resonates with me the most.

Abundance of Katherines, while it did not make as much emotional impact as Looking For Alaska or changed the way how I perceive people like Paper Towns and all it ever did is to remind me and justify what I already know, is still a solid and brilliant contemporary novel. John Green can do no wrong. The characters he draw, stories he tell and the many layers of it echo in me for quite a long while until it became a part of my system. I’m adding another item on my lifelong to-do list and that is to meet him. It’s going to happen. Watch this space. I am.

1 I got a slant hymn. Colin, a prodigy, can do this under a minute. I, however, did it in about half an hour, therefore I am not prodigy.
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message 1: by Tintin (new) - added it

Tintin Nice review :) I'm looking forward to reading this as well.

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