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An Abundance of Katherines
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$7.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on November 23, 2015
[copied from my Goodreads review)

Was on the fence between 3* and 4* and I think the disappointing appendix caused it to drop down to 3*.

I'm a huge fan of John Green having already read The Fault in Our Stars (5*) and Paper Towns (4*) before this one. I follow him on Twitter, listen to the podcast he does with his brother, and even enjoy watching his 15-minute long AFC Wimbly Wombly YouTube videos where he just talks while playing FIFA 14. But An Abundance of Katherines feels like a lesser novel than the previous two I've read, and that may be simply because it was his second novel and I'm reading them all in reverse order.

AAoK tells the story of Colin Singleton, a child prodigy who, as he is approaching adulthood, comes to the realization that there's no such thing as adult prodigy. His ability to anagram any phrase instantly, his voracity for reading and learning, even his polyglotism will all be less and less impressive as he grows up. And so he begins to worry about what his lasting mark on society will be.

On top of all that, he's dated (and been dumped by) 19 different Katherines. No Kates or Kathryns or Catherines; for some reason, he's gone out with 19 Katherines and has always been dumped by them. He eventually has a "Eureka moment" and realizes he may be able to be remembered if he can mathematically show why these relationships didn't work out. He starts off with some simple equations and eventually works on something only math geniuses could comprehend or plot in an attempt to show how long a relationship will last and who will dump whom. If he could only make this equation work, maybe he can see a future where he and Katherine XIX would get back together.

All of this math occurs away from home (it wouldn't be a John Green novel without teenagers going on a road trip away from their parents). He and his best friend, Hassan (an overweight, Muslim slacker one year older than Colin, who'd rather sit at home and watch Judge Judy than apply to college) drive off and eventually come across Gutshot, TN—home of the final burial place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (you know the guy whose assassination prompted WWI?). Here, the two meet Lindsey Lee Wells (it wouldn't be a John Green novel without a young girl with three names)—convenience store worker extraordinaire & Ferdinand grave tour guide. She figures mattering (or ever leaving Gutshot) is overrated and is more than happy to grow old and die in her little town, a nice foil to Colin.

Lindsey's mother, Hollis, runs a factory that basically only produces tampon strings and also employs basically the whole town. She hires the boys to join her daughter in a new mission—interviewing people who work or have worked at the factory to create an oral history of Gutshot. The boys agree and the three of them have some wacky adventures. Colin continues to work on his Theorem, Hollis meets a hot chubby chaser who makes him second guess his Muslim beliefs, and Lindsey acts all manic pixie dream girly, all while dating TOC (The Other Colin), your standard captain of the football team popular guy.

Whereas Green's previous (to me but later in, you know, real time) novels TFiOS and PT both have some deeper characters and better stories, AAoK was lacking. Sure it made me chuckle but Colin was overly annoying, Lindsey overly MPDG, and Hassan overly funny about his weight. Everything felt just a little too unrealistic (19 Katherines?! Unintentionally?!?) and parts of it were kind of boring. The will-they-or-won't-they between Colin and Lindsey was cute but predictable. The main thing this book had going for it were the footnotes used throughout (reminded me of all the great footnotes in A Selective History of Max Werner) and one of the footnotes promised an appendix that would explain the math behind Colin's Theorem.

Well, I guess the appendix was written for people like John Green who aren't good at math. It describes what an equation is and how you'd graph one but doesn't get into the actual math behind this:


There's no talk about if this equation is graphing in radians or degrees. There's no talk about what the rightmost part (the one with the absolute value) is doing there. I was a math major and I'm trying to "see" what this is doing and I cannot grasp parts of it and when I try to graph it, I get errors with certain values of H. I was hoping the appendix would be an actual mathematical paper going into how the mathematician behind this equation came up with it. Sure it produces a few nice graphs, but I was hoping to see all 19 graphed out. We got the stories of all 19 Katherines, but I wanted to see the math of all 19 Katherines!

The appendix was a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT (which anagrams to UNHAPPIEST DEMOTING which is what happened with my 3.5* falling to a 3*)!

I'm sure I'll still get around to reading Looking for Alaska someday (probably closer to when that movie is coming out, but I'm in no real hurry any longer. Maybe this book was just a sophomore slump..
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on December 5, 2016
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green is a decent choice for young adults. It describes how a relationship can change a person and can help with understanding what is meaningful and not. This is a pretty easy read but also can be difficult. The first few chapters are kind of boring due to explaining the story. It was hard for me to get into the book because of those first few chapters. If you can handle the main character whining, this will be a good choice for you. It can get annoying because I felt that was all the author knew how to write about. It took me 3 weeks to read the book because I had school and other activities going on, but anyone could get through this book within a week. I don’t suggest this book because the story line is not an attention grabber. John Green usually writes really interesting stories but An Abundance of Katherines is slow. If you enjoy slow story lines that you can follow and understand, this would be a decent choice. He does include going on a road trip to figure out who the character is but it was still just whining. I would rate this book lower than his other books.
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on July 31, 2016
Let me start this review by saying I'm a pretty big John Green fan. I started with Paper Towns, which I got as a gift, reading it in one sitting. I liked it so much that I went out and bought Looking for Alaska and read that in an all-nighter session, too. I loved Alaska. It covers the meaning of life while introducing three unforgettable characters: Pudge, The Colonel, and Alaska. And no, I didn't have to Google the names.
Everyone always talks about A Fault in our Stars, but I was more curious about Green's sophomore effort, An Abundance of Katherines. Unlike Paper Towns and Alaska, I didn't read this in one sitting. It took several sessions for me to get through this.
At first, I liked it well enough. We've got Colin, a depressed wannabe protege who has just been dumped for the umpteenth time by a Katherine, who is being pushed to get out and live by his lazy, underachieving friend, the comic relief character, Hassan. Hassan doesn't have a job and he has taken a year off before going to college. The two decide to take a road trip. Of course?
I'm not going to go through the plot, but let's just say it's very forgettable in comparison to Alaska. Will Colin learn that there is more to life than getting dumped by girls with the same name and find a cool new girl (perhaps with a different name)? Will Hassan learn the meaning of hard work?
Throughout the book we get a bunch of flashbacks to Colin's past relationships, but I can't say I was enthralled by these sections. They feel a bit pointless, and while some flashbacks are funny (like Colin getting dumped immediately by Katherine 1), most scenes just tend to drag because I found myself not caring.
Let me explain, the reason I loved Alaska and Paper Towns was because the characters were so lovable, but here, meh, I just didn't connect. Sure, Hassan is funny, but he feels one-dimensional. His shtick wore thin relatively quickly. Colin, well, I just found him to be a whiny s***, to be honest. He's a loser, like Pudge, but without the charm and mannerisms that made me connect with that character.
I think the main problem is that John Green wrote this in third-person, as opposed to first-person. The writing feels more distant. I just didn't buy what I was reading. Whereas, even the scenes in Alaska that felt made-up at least had a lovable humor or character developing aspect to them. Here, everything kind of feels forced.
That's not to say I hated this book or anything, but in comparison to Green's other work, it feels clunky. And the ending, while nice, doesn't have the same moral impact or twist as his other works had. Overall, I'd skip this unless you're a Green Completist.
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on September 11, 2014
A strange plot, not very likable characters, and many, long, boring passages. Maybe this was supposed to be a complete fable, or a metaphor for something deep. Well, if it was, I completely missed it. Colin is a child prodigy who has been dumped by 19 girlfriends, all named Katherine. Now I knew that coming into the book and shame on me for not casting it aside right then and there but I'm a sucker for road trip stories and this one started out that way.....but not for long. Colin and buddy Hassan wind up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where Colin meets a charming young miss and her rube boyfriend, also Colin. No, the girl's name is not Katherine. Then not much happens for 150 pages or so. Thankfully, this is a very slim book and after another 50 pages give or take, it ends with not much of a climax. Not cute, not charming, not interesting.
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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 January 22, 2018
I think John Green is brilliant. Period. Even if someone doesn't like YA novels, there's no denying his talent. One of my favorite aspects of his writing is the characters he creates. He's amazing with characters and each is so intricate and interesting and none are cliche to a fault. Some characters, like "The Other Colin" in this novel are cliche on purpose, because TOC is supposed to be numbskull football player. In this book in particular, the characters are crazy good. Colin with his random facts and prodigy mind reminds me of me of my favorite character from Criminal Minds, Dr. Spencer Reid. Hassan is probably my favorite character with his humor and personality. I think he's hilarious and perfectly written. Lindsey turns out to be a sort of atypical popular girl, and I'll admit I didn't always love her character, but that doesn't mean she wasn't well-written.
I also particularly enjoyed Colin and Hassan's relationship. The two worked together perfectly and were entertaining. Hassan calls Colin "kafir" and they often refer to each other as "sitzpinkler," which loosely translates to being a wimp. They also use "dingleberries" as a sort of safe word to indicate when the other has gone too far. Their friendship is also admirably loyal.
I also adored all the footnotes! They were funny and give insight in a way that totally worked with Colin's personality.
A final thing I loved about the novel was the intricacy of everything and the way everything was connected. For example (spoiler alert), Colin and Hassan end up in Gutshot simply to see where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was buried, and at the end, Colin realizes that it never was the Archduke, but instead Lindsey's great-grandfather. "Fred N. Dinzanfar, that anagramming bastard." One of Colin's greatest pleasures also happens to be anagramming.
The ending was wrapped up beautifully and I loved when he described all the Katherine's in detail because I had waited for that the entire novel and it was entertaining. My favorite was probably the sixth, "she was excellent at both pottery and pull-ups, two fields of endeavor at which I have never excelled, and although between us we could have made an unstoppable force of intelligence and upper-body strength and coffee mug-making, she dumped me anyway." John Green's books are never boring, and his language is always amazing and intriguing!
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on July 11, 2015
I really enjoyed two other books by John Green, Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, which I read as paperback editions. Having just purchased a Kindle paperwhite, I bought this book in Kindle format.

This was a good read, but not nearly as enjoyable as the other books mentioned above. I won't summarize the plot here, other reviewers have done a far better job at that than I. The format of the book was interesting, with math formulas, graphs and anagrams interspersed as part of the story. I am a math geek and love anagrams so these certainly piqued my interest. However, on my Kindle the equations and graphs usually were too small to be very legible. Perhaps had I oriented the display in landscape mode they would have been sized a little larger? I do have the font sized larger than the default but it seems like the graphics don't scale up even if there is room. I also didn't realize at first that I could tap a footnote number to display the text (I'm still a bit of a Kindle noob).

At times I found myself just not caring about all of Colin's obsession with girls named Katherine (why can't he just move on?). The humorous situations he and his road trip buddy, Hassan, find themselves in did make up for the somewhat tedious rehashing of girlfriend dramas, particularly Colin's most recent Katherine. I have some disbelief that a kid who was a prodigy (and a loner with an arrogant personality) could possibly ever have had that many girlfriends growing up. But all in all it's a good story, just not great.
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on November 9, 2014
One of my hangups with YA and NA books, is that they feel phony. They read like they were written by an adult who's forgotten entirely what it feels like to be a kid. A teen. A young adult. Wondering who you are. Where you fit. Feeling lost. Feeling insecure. Feeling exhilarated. FEELING.
John Green remembers.
This is a story about Colin Singleton, a young prodigy who has dated- and been dumped by- nineteen Katherines. After his latest failed Katherine, a heartbroken Colin, and his best friend hit the road with no destination in mind, for a summer of freedom.
I fell in love with every character in this book. With honest, valuable friendships, incredibly funny dialogue, wisdom beyond its young years, and simple love, An Abundance of Katherines is perfection.
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on December 25, 2014
My first book of John Green 's was "The Fault In our Stars". Maybe since I started with that book(it has now become one of my favorites) every other John Green book just seems to wash itself out. You see, while "An abundance of Katherines"(AAK) would normally be a great book, it wasn't because it's just like other John Green books. Paper Towns involved a road trip, this involved a road trip. Paper Towns (and TFIOS) had a story that, for the most part, revolved around a relationship. So does this. While this list may not seem like enough to make comparisons, when you think on it it is. It just seem like there's not much of a real plot or point, which bring me to the next issue- What was the end game? It didn't really seem like there was much of a point with this-like what was he looking for? The book just revolves around Colin doing stuff. In Paper Towns, at least Q is looking for Margo and in Tfios, we are waiting to see if someone kicks the bucket or where Hazel and Gus's relationship goes. In this book, Colin has no gf and is doing nothin more than...existing. It's just that there's no real objective, other than, in the end, to create a formula for relationships(which I wouldn't call an objective really). Next, I felt the book was a bit boring. When I began reading I thought maybe this was going to go Groundhog Day style. For example, Colin has to go and relive all his past relationships and figure out what he needs to do to stop the reliving of relationships. Personally, I feel that would have been a better plot. In AAK there isn't even really a focus on his past relationships. I wanted to know about THOSE. In addition to that, AAK just has a lot of kinda boring dialogue and scenes. You ever get that feeling when reading where you're just like"Skip, skip, skip" ? That happens a lot-and nothing is even missed! Some things seem to be a little stuck on repeat, and looking back I can only remember a few actual defining parts that stood out.
This will be the section on the good parts. AAK was actually a pretty okay book, I would have just tweaked the plot a little. The thing that pulled it through was mainly humor. I will admit that after a long streak if attempted humor, it could get annoying but for the most part it was great. I LOVED HASSAN. He was the most hilarious person. When he started calling himself papa or big daddy or whatever it was, I died. Hassan was a highlight. Next, I really liked Lindsey and her relationship with Colin(btw Lindsey is a girl that, with her mom, "boards" them in TN). Lindsey was also pretty funny and I really wanted Colin and her to get together. Something about her made me like her. Lastly, I was fond of the ending. It ended how I hoped it would and it DID NOT make me angry like Paper Towns did.
Ok, so AAK was not a great book but it also wasn't awful. The main reason I gave it 3 stars was because it didn't stand out and parts of it were boring. The story didn't really go anywhere per say. However, it did mostly satisfy me in the end and I don't regret reading it. I WOULD recommend this book, mainly for people who enjoyed Paper Towns(you don't have to have enjoyed the ending though, because they are nothing alike.)
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on November 29, 2015
(2.5 stars)Colin has always dated Katherines and has always been dumped by them. He is a former child prodigy and is now transitioning to adulthood. He decides to take a road trip with his friend and they end up in a small town in Tennessee. There he begins working on a theorum of relationships, figuring out the factors that determine what happens in a relationship. In their time in town, he makes new friends and figures out more about himself and life and realizes that life may hold more for him that he initially anticipated. The book includes his passion for anagrams, footnotes and mathematical modeling.
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