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An Abundance of Katherines
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on October 16, 2017
Let me begin by saying I am a fan of John Green's writing and, honestly of John Green, himself. I've seen him speak to teachers at a conference, follow his Twitter, and occasionally watch videos posted by him and his brother. I purchased this book at the same time as others 3+ years ago- reading The Fault in our Stars first, then Paper Towns and then, Looking for Alaska. As sometimes happens with buying too many Kindle books at one time, I assumed I had read An Abundance of Katherines, but actually hadn't. Maybe because it is the most recently read and it's the story I want to tell myself but I've decided this one is the one I like the best of the works I have read of John Green. All of his books involve characters uncovering their "truth with a capital t" - about connecting with the human condition in touching, funny, memorable, and deeply meaningful ways. Each of his stories involves the character connecting with life through an odd, adorable nerd/dork fascination with an attention to detail that is remarkable and leaves me more knowledgeable even if I didn't think I needed to know so much about maps/mathematical theorems/a particular novel's author/famous last words. An Abundance of Katherines did not disappoint and proved/helped me re-remember that John Green is a magician with words, connects to the insecure teenager still within all of us, and can make us laugh while crying at the same time. I am really looking forward to reading Turtles All the Way Down - hoping it will become my new favorite.
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on July 23, 2014
After being totally excited about The Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska, I expected that this book would leave me with a similar reaction. After reading both of those books, I immediately recommended them to teens and could “guarantee” they would love the books. This is not that book. I could easily put it down mid-chapter, I didn’t find myself trying to sneak bits of time to read it, and I wasn’t trying to predict the ending or telling people about it as I was reading it. When I finished it, I basically thought it was an “good” book, but not great. As I started thinking about it more though, I started realizing that in some ways, it was actually a better book than the previous two I mentioned. It was a more challenging book to write that doesn’t rely on cancer or an unexpected tragic death to elicit a response from the reader. The book has a small town setting without being condescending to small towns – either by making them pathetic or quaint. Furthermore, the theme is more layered, more complex. Our protagonist, a child prodigy, is supposedly not living up to his potential and we are presented with two supporting characters who also are not meeting expectations in different ways. The idea of setting expectations and having the courage to change them is an interesting conflict to present young people with – or really anybody. To accomplish the task of conveying this message without any “big” event taking place is certainly a success on the part of John Green. So even though I will give it four stars, I have to admit it’s actually a better book than his most popular books, even though I enjoyed them more!
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on April 12, 2016
I can't help it. I just love John Green's characters and their voices. He has the best way of describing EVERYTHING. And the footnotes are hilarious and awesome.

Pros:
Narrator's voice is awesome
Characters are well-rounded and funny
Ending has expected and unexpected parts
Excellent last line
Well-written
Fun to read

Cons:
I wish he'd resolved one of the issues that arose in the book, but it's realistic that he didn't, so I can't be too upset by it
It's full of weird facts, which don't bother me but might bother some people
Colin thinks way too much....and in weird ways (but normal and expected given his character)
Honestly, I'm struggling to come up with cons...

I really hope my books are as cleverly written as his.
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on July 2, 2014
What carried most of this book was Colin's personality, and just listening to him. Otherwise, not much else had me craving to see what would happen next. One of the strongest problems was the large cast of characters, that are all given limited time and limited personalities so that they seem like filler between Colin's breakthroughs. Most of the other dynamic elements seemed to just fall in place, and Colin merely coexisted with them. His relationship with Hasan and their bickering was also a highlight of the book, but their language made every other character seem too bland. I loved hearing from them so much, and following Colin's train of thought, that it seemed every other aspect was just a nuisance of Green to write.
I had to admire John Green for the work he put into writing this, such as the cliff note on remembering the number sequence of pi. He put a lot of love into the little details, that made this book seem real, but almost so real that they seem like they were outright conceived outside of the novel. I think the main issue of this book was spending too much effort on certain aspects that most of the story could not match that level of passion. It was an uneven trip.
I do not think it was the strongest John Green book, but with the few characters he played with, I could see all of the passion and precision he puts into his work. It is hard not to love a book where you can see the author put so much work into. 3.5
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on September 6, 2017
This book is very interesting and fun to read. There was lots of humor, and also lots of math. I found the book to be very relatable to almost every teenager who will read it. I loved the book, it made me think about what my life will amount to. A short summary of the book: Colin Singleton wants to matter, like almost everyone else in the world. He wants to be remembered as a genius, but he can't seem to put together a theory of the only problem in his life. He has been in a relationship with 19 girls named Katherine, but why have they all dumped him? Read and find out his mathematical thinking.
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on January 26, 2017
This book is a wonderful narrative about breakups, friendship, and the struggle to accept the un-uniqueness of ourselves. Colin and Hassan go on an inspired journey that gives them (and the reader) a new perspective on what it is to be remembered.
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on April 24, 2015
I only rated "An Abundance of Katherines" four stars because it was a bit of a hassle to be constantly switching between the text and the footnotes. I wouldn't say this is the best John Green book, despite him being an amazing author, I would suggest someone who's never read a John Green book something more along the lines of "Looking for Alaska", or my personal favorite, "Paper Towns." However, John Green is a brilliant author and I have a lot of fun making connections between this novel and his others. Anagrams are an interesting story element, along with math (footnotes if you need explanation.) I love the diverse, unique, and extremely loveable characters. The plot is good but I feel it could've been executed better. The ending is kind of sudden and doesn't feel very conclusive. But overall it was fun to read little bits and pieces of Colin's Chicago life-especially while sitting in a hotel room overlooking Chicago.
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on April 1, 2014
This book has amazing voice. Colin Singleton is a child prodigy on the cusp of becoming an adult. He feels this intense pressure to be a genius and this intense doubt that he will ever create anything worthy of that title. He's at an identity crossroads. And Katherine, the 19th Katherine that he's loved, just dumped him. His best friend, Hassan (who lights up every scene he's in), and he end up taking a roadtrip.

Colin decides to create a theorem. A way to predict who will be the dumper and the dumpee and how long a relationship will last. He will plot it and graph it.

Only John Green can have footnotes and graphs within a novel! But it is perfect for the voice of this story.

If you enjoyed math in high school, this will be particularly fun to read. If you didn't, don't worry, he makes it easy to grasp.

The roadtrip takes Colin and Hassan to Gutshot, TN, and they encounter the town golden girl Lindsey Lee Wells. Their time with Lindsey is very character revealing. There is a hilarious hunting scene where Colin shoots something he shouldn't and a fight scene that had me laughing out loud.

It's a quick read--Green's prose are ridiculously smooth and each sentence leads into the next so well that the pages flip faster and faster.
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on September 6, 2012
So, this book was assigned to my kids for summer reading. Actually, it was the book the school chose to assign to ALL the students. I'm guessing, that is about 2000 students. With that many locals reading the book, it seemed like a good choice for me, too.

I opened the book in the morning, and just turned pages all day, reading until the end. Good book. But several times, I was jarred from my reverie by poor editing--hence the 4 stars. Actually, I'd give it 3.5 if I could, but rounded up instead of down, due to good story. Amazon.com suggests the appropriate age for this book is 12 and up. Given the amount of sex concepts, I'd say at least 13, and for most kids, 14 or 15.

Lots of reviews talk about the story, I'll describe a few examples of editing concerns.

Early on, I was frustrated that Hassan's parents are shown telling Hassan to call home while he is away, but he is never shown calling home once. Story should have avoided having the father tell him to call.

The author obviously fell prey to Green's desire to share and preach little bits of random information. Sharing information enough to suit the story, fine. But he overdid it. Two examples: The comment about how much water to drink overshot the mark, and became preachy. The shower curtain info was interesting, but was obviously shoehorned into the story.

Anagrams play a significant role in this book. But the author has to reach so far to get the right anagrams sometimes, that he messes with the language to make them work right. Generally, Green's pros flow so well that every time I found the phrasing stilted, I was surprised. And then my surprise turned to momentary irritation, when it was invariably followed by an anagram. Like YRS FOREVER.

For some reason, there is a minimally discussed dog in the story. It was not well described when introduced, stuck in oddly later, and never used for anything that moved the story along. It didn't seem to represent anything. I couldn't figure out why it was included at all, and I kept waiting for it. Distracting.

Finally, I sincerely wish the author had researched the product made at the factory better. His description of the product simply isn't accurate, and I couldn't help feeling that a female author would never have made the error. Perhaps Green needed a product, and just had trouble coming up with one. This one had a humor factor, so he used it. But the description of the factory and the product were jarring for me, because they didn't make sense, in a story that is pretty reality-based.

There are more, but this is certainly more than enough for a review!

Again, I did really like the book, despite its flaws. Given that other reviewers have said "Looking for Alaska" is better, I am interested in reading that one next.
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on October 17, 2014
this book didn't really do it for me. I didn't mind the mathematics of it all, which this book is choc full of, but the story line itself was slow going. I didn't connect with the characters like I did in looking for Alaska or TFIOS. That being said, it was very well structured, smart, and funny, but the characters weren't very complex and it had a predictable ending. I suggest renting it from the library before you buy it to see if it's for you. Don't buy it on an impulse like I did, because it's only okay. I love john green's other works though, so if you're looking for an amazing author, you've found one, his genius just doesn't transition well in An Abundance of Katherines, in my opinion.
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