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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 October 8, 2015
I think I made the mistake of becoming a John Green fan by reading The Fault in Our Stars first. After that, I knew I would read anything that came from his mind, including tweets that are limited to 140 characters. He's brilliant, no question.

An Abundnce of Katherines was one of his earlier books, and after reading his most recent first, it shows. He's grown a lot as a writer. The book reads well, it does pull you in as you hope any book you begin will, but it's also predictable. The predictably is clever, and all things John Green, but I felt like I've read the idea of this story before, only by different authors and maybe not as intelligently written.

Some of that may have to do with the mathematical thereoms that are thrown into the story. Although it made it interesting, it was distracting as I've never been much of a math person.

It was easy to see that in true John Green fashion, he went to great extents in writing this book. He did his homework and enlisted those who had knowledge of things he didn't.

If you're a John Green fan, and if you are reading this I'm sure you are, I would suggest it, but I wouldn't expect it to leave you the way The Fault in Our Stars, Looking For Alaska or Paper Towns did.
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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 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 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 October 23, 2015
An Abundance of Katherines is written by John Green. It is a young adult book enough sophistication and quirkiness for everyone. The main character Colin, has an amazing summer after high school, and also discovers a "tapetum ship theorem. Read An Abundance of Katherines for a great time wasting book.

Spoiler Alert!
Colin just graduated high school as a washed-up child prodigy, and for the 19th time, he was dumped by another Katherine. Colin Singleton has a quirky love for girls named Katherine and anagrams. Colin and his best friend, Hassan, embark on the road trip of all road trips.

As far as the both of them knew, this would be their last summer together, so they want to make the best of it. When they reach Gunshot, Tennesee, Colin and Hassan decide to take a tour of the gravesite of archduke Franz Ferdinand. It's not a Katherine he meets there, it's a girl named Lindsay. And When Colin told Lindsay about his theorem, about the duration of relationships, she was interested in helping her new friend find the answer. The book is sophisticated, quirky, and very humorous. The journey Colin takes to find out one simple theorem gives him an adventurous summer, where he learns the truth about himself.

My personal reaction to this book was a great aspiration to have an adventure suc as Colin and Hassan's. I admired their funny personalities and how they are such great friends. I thought it was a genius approach to involve an actual mathematical formula. That in fact (I checked) is correct for Colin Singleton's situations.

I strongly suggest you read this book, it will give a new meaming of math. John green is an excellent writer, and you will love all of his pieces. Especially, An Abundance of Katherine.
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on January 26, 2016
Really enjoyed this! John Green is one of those authors I recommend to anyone because his books are just always well done. This was my third John Green book, I read TFiOS and Paper Towns first, and I was not disappointed! The plot is simple because this is definitely character driven, but that being said all the characters were fleshed out beautifully and the friendships and romances were all relatable and believable. Colin was funny and it was great reading from his POV. Definitely recommend to all!
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on September 3, 2015
I love John Green. He is one of the greats of these modern times and he is going to be remembered decades and decades down the road. That being said, 'An Abundance of Katherines' isn't my favorite book of his. Is it good? Yes. Is it as good as 'The Fault in Our Stars' and 'Looking for Alaska'? No. In my opinion, it lacks that characterization that made AFIOS and LFA. I'm sorry, Colin, but you kinda annoyed me the majority of the book and I could see why all the Katherines dumped you.

I think the reason I didn't love this book is that I have put John Green on a pedestal and this book didn't measure up. Their are certainly worse books out there. I promise. It's a great premise and very imaginative like John Green always is. But it's not my favorite book and I likely won't re-read.
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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 April 10, 2015

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "A picture paints a thousand words," right? While that's certainly true, I'd say that the opposite works just as well, too: A thousand words can paint a picture. And this works in many different ways - characters and worlds come to life by the simple act of writing. But behind the layer of the story, there's the unseen mastermind behind it all, and that's the one and only author. The pages upon pages of words don't just paint an otherworldly mural. They give us a glimpse into the writer's life and personality, too. I finally picked up John Green's "An Abundance of Katherines" one day after craving a smart, fun read, and found myself giggling at the ridiculous amount of smart-aleck humour packed into the two hundred or so pages. When I finished the book just a few days later, I couldn't help but think, "Man, I'd like to get coffee with this John Green guy." And if that isn't a sign of some real good writing, I don't know what is.

Before I get to the writing itself, however, I think the storyline of "An Abundance of Katherines" merits some unadulterated attention. In a nutshell, Colin Singleton is an anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy who has the misfortune of only ever falling for girls by the name of - you guessed it- Katherine. When he's dumped for the nineteenth time by K-19, Colin embarks on a road trip with his overweight, smart-aleck best friend riding shotgun, with no destination in mind but forward to anywhere with no Katherines. Being the freakishly smart prodigy he is, Colin is determined to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which is basically a geeky way to say "math formula to prove when he'll get dumped"...which sounds pretty sad, if I put it that way. The premise of the novel sounds a little wacky, but that at least puts it on the safe side of the "fun but slightly unrealistic/realistic but boring" divide that a lot of contemporary novels find themselves straddling. Trust me when I say that "An Abundance of Katherines" is both fun and, strangely enough, realistic. At least, I can believe that there's a skinny smart guy with an IQ of 160 roaming the country (though 19 Katherines might be a bit of a stretch).
One of the major reasons why the crazy storyline succeeds is the dynamic cast of characters in the novel. This isn't to say that they were exactly likable, though. I do have to admit that Colin wasn't exactly the most endearing of characters, given his propensity to whine... a lot. He basically spends most of the story talking about the great hole in his stomach after being dumped by K-19, and about how he's not a genius, but a prodigy (apparently there's a difference). While I completely understand the whole teenage angst, quarter-life crisis thing, it came to a point where Colin just wasn't likable. In fact, if he was a real person, I probably wouldn't want to hang out with him. That being said, his characterization is rendered somewhat more appropriate when you remember that this is the point of a lot of YA contemporary novels: they're about learning about yourself and growing up, which I think that Colin does at the very end of the novel. Putting our protagonist aside for a bit, I found myself being pretty ambivalent toward Lindsey. She's undoubtedly a complex, intriguing character, though to me, she fell into the character trope of the complicated, hard-to-get female counterpart with emotional baggage. The one character I definitely did find likable was Hassan, whose knee-slapping humour got me laughing out loud a lot of the time.

Now, of course, the writing. This might be related to the portrayals of the characters and the plot of the novel, but Mr. Green's writing is insane. It remains smooth throughout the novel, and is saturated with an intense dose of wit. What I think is especially great is that he manages to strike a balance between humour and narration, because there are many cases when the story gets lost in overly-insistent attempts at being funny. The footnotes were, at times, a little too much, but they added dimension (and very interesting historical, scientific and mathematical tidbits) to the narrative. However, one thing that didn't succeed as well was the actual math of Colin's Katherine Theorem. While the narrator does give the readers a pass by saying that we aren't meant to understand everything, instead providing a very comprehensive appendix of the math behind the theorem at the end of the book, the dialogue and the narration often get bogged down in the mathematical explanations. Maybe it's because I'm in no way a math genius, but toning all of the functions and equations and all that down a notch would've helped with the flow.

All in all, "An Abundance of Katherines" is a fun read that packs a serious funny-punch. While it may not be my favourite John Green book to date, it's still worth checking out if you're in for some light-hearted laughs or, you know, if you're a geek looking to tackle some math problems.

Rating: 3.5/5
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