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Sophomore Slump? Yes.
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.