Anna's Reviews > An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
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's review
Apr 02, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: young-adult, fiction
Recommended for: not really sure who

I was not terribly impressed with Katherines. I read Green's Looking For Alaska and thought it was one of the best young adult novels I have ever read SO I was expecting this book to measure up to a higher standard. Unfortunately, it did not even come close.

Here's my beef with the book:

1) The characters. I had a really hard time getting into Katherines because the characters were not too likable. Green gave the characters personalities, but he missed something in the character development category that could have made his characters people that readers (especially young adults) could relate to.

2) The basic premise of the book did not appeal to me. I never bought into the 19-girlfriends-named-Katherine bit and struggled to understand why the main character spent the entire novel trying to devise a mathematical formula that would explain why he was dumped so often by his girlfriends. It all just seemed a bit OCD and irrational to me, and it almost felt like he was trying too hard to come up with a unique idea for his sophomore novel.

3) I was disappointed because I found huge chunks of the book to be pretty boring. Many of the conversations were dull and I found myself skimming a lot of the text. I skimmed because I kept thinking the book would make a turnaround but I think most young adult readers would probably give up. I think the footnotes and references made it worse but it just seemed to me like a lot of what happened could have been said in a simpler and faster way.

My last concern is that I am not sure who this text is really for. Middle school kids probably would not "get" the main message because of the higher level vocabulary and I think those obscure references/footnotes make the book seem even more difficult than it is.

I wish this book was more like Looking For Alaska because that was truly a fantastic read but hopefully his future writing will sort of return to that simple but beautiful type of expression. Katherines isn't horrible but I definitely would not go out of my way to recommend it and would suggest that you read Looking For Alaska instead.
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2008 – Shelved
April 2, 2008 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 2, 2008 – Shelved as: fiction
Started Reading
April 18, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Christina I understand how you feel about Katherines, and Alaska. Trust me on this though, Paper Towns is quite AMAZING! I'd hate to say that it's better than Alaska because that book just holds a dear place in my heart, but trust me, it's friggin GOOD!

message 2: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Even though I loved Katherines, you made really good points. I can see where you're coming from.

Milanie Howard Colin's whole character was based on the principle that he can not be "simpler and faster." The footnotes are where the humor really became apparent, because we are reading a story about a boy who is too into details to be able to tell a proper story, written by a narrator who is too into details to tell a straight-forward story. Maybe because I often find myself falling into the same pitfalls when I try to tell stories, I found this a genius move on Green's part, and I actually would have found the story a little dull had they not been included. Colin's world is a world of knowledge, of just knowing for knowing's sake, and with the footnotes and seemingly extraneous facts provided on every page, Green is offering his readers a way into that world. As for your other points, I happen to disagree, but they are opinions and everyone's entitled to their own. Alaska and Paper Towns are certainly different books than Katherines, but I don't necessarily think they are better.

Jessica Hm, i don't agree with most of these points.

1)"the characters were not too likable."
i liked the characters (especially Hassan)
and since when does relating to the characters define whether or not a book is good? It's called fiction for a reason, ya'll. They don't have to be relatable.

2)"It all just seemed a bit OCD"
it was a bit OCD, but it was supposed to be. that was Colin's character.

3)"a lot of what happened could have been said in a simpler and faster way."
sure they COULD have been said in a faster and simpler way, but that would take away from the whole 'genius' thing he was going for, wouldn't it?

4)"Middle school kids probably would not "get" the main message because of the higher level vocabulary"
i read this in middle school (a few months ago) and i "got" the main message just fine.

5)"I wish this book was more like Looking For Alaska because that was truly a fantastic read"
Looking For Alaska is like my favorite book ever, and i agree, it was better than Katherines. But An Abundance of Katherines was still good. I wish people would stop comparing it to Alaska and like it for what it is.

Just my opinion.

message 5: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark maybe you didnt realte becasue you didnt see it from a guys point of view, try it like that and tell me what you think

message 6: by Lex (new)

Lex Hey by the way I'm in middle school and I read at a college level so I do not agree that I would not "get" this.

Kenzie1033 I agree. I am also in middle school and read at a college level so maybe you shouldn't say who would and wouldn't 'get' this book. It's not up to you. And Looking For Alaska is an amazing book btw :)

Rebecca Cantor I'd just like to stress that "young adult" doesn't mean middle school in most cases. It usually means high school and college-aged. That being said, obviously anyone younger or older can read and enjoy YA, I just don't understand when children's literature and young adult became so intertwined.

Alice For one, I am in sixth grade (I "got" the message of the story) and this is possibly one of my top 5 favorite books! I am currently reading Looking For Alaska and so far, it's good. I think everything about this book was fantastic. The characters WERE likable, and the footnotes made it so interesting!!!!!!!! I respectfully disagree with your entire review. ;-)

message 10: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali Your point of middle schoolers not "getting" it is completely inaccurate. I read this book when I was 12 and I loved it. May I point out that a book about a prodigy may be read by a prodigy. ;) (not suggesting myself here)

Grace Meredith Wasn't anyone a little bit put-off by all the explicit scenes and language? I mean, I read this in middle school, and it was totally not appropriate for me then.

message 12: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Clover I'm thirteen, and I don't think you fully understand young adults. We are smarter than you think we are. Also, it's the kind of people who actually read books for fun (like the ones reading this book) that get the references and messages of this book. Do not underestimate the knowledge of a teenage girl.

message 13: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Mckinney I agree on the disappointment that was the characterization. I also read Looking For Alaska, and felt that the deep rich characterization and realistic quality of the situations and backgrounds are part of what made that book great. In Katherines, I found the characters to be very unbelievable. I mean, how is it possible that he ended up with 19 girls named Katherine without meaning to, even though he admitted that Katherine the First wasn't even all that important to him? I just found most of the characters to be flat and have grey areas. Take Lindsey for example: She has these occasional poignant moments, like when she talks about TOC giving her the Alpo can, but on the whole is a mystery. It was never explained why she dated TOC. It was never explained fully why she had little to no ambitions. And I found her relationship with the oldsters to be just plain random. I also hated the way that John Green had Lindsey and Colin end up together. I mean wasn't the whole point of the book that he only dated Katherines. We didn't even really get background on the other characters, like Hollis and Hassan. Although, I will admit that I found Hassan hilarious. On the whole, I feel like John Green had this great idea in his head for this book, but failed to put it all on paper. Rather than really digging deep into the characters, he added fluff to make the book more likable, and put too much focus on this Theorem that didn't even work in the end. I mean, if he had really dug deep and characterized Colin as something other than a know-it-all and a Dumpee, I think this book could have been even better than Looking For Alaska.

message 14: by Fern (new) - rated it 1 star

Fern I totally agree!

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