Sunday, April 1, 2012

A: An Abundance of Katherines

For the first A to Z challenge post, I'm profiling a book that always ranks among my top five when people ask for recommendations. Oh, who am I kidding? I steer conversations so I can recommend this book. I've only read it once, though. Hilarious as it is, it's also too personally painful to reread constantly (in contrast, I've read the Hunger Games series five times).

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Genre YA

General premise After being dumped for the nineteenth time by a Katherine (no, not one girl playing with his heart – nineteen separate individuals named Katherine), Colin realizes it's now or never: this summer (the summer after high school graduation) is his last chance to go from child prodigy to adult genius.

Page 7 quote
Prodigies can very quickly learn what other people have already figured out; geniuses discover that which no one has ever previously discovered. Prodigies learn; geniuses do. The vast majority of child prodigies don't become adult geniuses. Colin was almost certain that he was among that unfortunate majority.

I remember shedding tears when it registered that I was too old to be a child prodigy at anything, never mind genius. I wish I were joking.

Anyway! Colin allows his high-octane friend Hassan (who is all sorts of awesome) to talk him into going on a road trip. They’ll both get what they want: Hassan avoids college for another year, while Colin works on a math theorem for predicting whether a relationship is going to end and who is going to end it. And yes, there is math in the book. But this is math about relationships. Math with real-world applications. The sort of thing we wish we'd been learning in Algebra II.

Hassan can't decide whether Colin's problem is being dumped or "the genius thing", but Colin sees them as different aspects of the same problem. As he laments to Hassan (also on Page 7), "I'm a total failure in case you haven't noticed. I'm washed up, I'm former. Formerly the boyfriend of Katherine XIX. Formerly a prodigy. Formerly full of potential. Currently full of s***."

Ah, teenage angst.

Colin's the kind of kid who, while sitting in a bathtub, recalls his four-year-old self reading about Archimedes for the first time (I was about five when I discovered the Greek myths, but I think we can all agree Herakles and Archimedes aren't exactly on the same intellectual level) and running to his mom to declare that he wanted a Eureka moment, "the way another kid might have expressed longing for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle."

In case you can’t get An Abundance of Katherines right this moment, I’ll start you off with the first lines:
The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath. Colin had always preferred baths; one of his general policies in life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily be done lying down.


  1. Oh Goodness I LOVE An Abundance of Katherines! I suspect I have an abundance of Tylers myself, although I haven't officially dated any of them. I am rather fond of all books by John Green, actually. I recently read The Fault in Our Stars. Yay. I think Will Grayson Will Grayson is the only John Green book I haven't read yet. By the way, I discovered your blog from the A to Z challenge. =D

    1. Isn't it amazing? Words really can't express how awesome this book is (except for John Green's own words, of course). I liked Will Grayson Will Grayson even more than The Fault in Our Stars. The only one I haven't read is Paper Towns.

      Good luck with your Tylers! ;)

    2. Hey thanks ;) I'll need the luck.

      An Abundance of Katherines made me wish I had a little rock alcove too hehe. Will Grayson Will Grayson was better than The Fault in Our Stars? I'll have to read it. Paper Towns is quite possibly my favorite! It's so hard to choose book favorites, but I would definitely recommend it.

  2. I am fan of John Green; it's hard to pick a favorite,but I read Paper Towns first so I'm a bit partial to it. Will Grayson was so entertaining, I hear the audio book is fantastic.

    1. You know, pretty much everyone I know of who has read more than one John Green book likes Paper Towns the most. Maybe I should read it now and blog about it for "P"?

  3. Never read the book. Never even heard about the book. But after reading your review, am tempted to pick it up.

    And thanks for stopping by at my blog.

    1. Please do - John Green's a brilliant writer.

      And I love your theme, so I'm planning to stop by every day!

  4. Stopping by from A to Z. I've been wanting to read something by John Green ever since I started following Maureen Johnson on Twitter, but I didn't know where to start. This book sounds like a great place to start!

  5. Hassan definitely is "all sorts of awesome."


    There's lots to love about this book, and Hassan in particular, but I was just thinking the other day about his reaction when he discovers his pseudo girlfriend cheating. Sure a unique and humorous approach to a twist that usually descends into frustrating drama! Green is one of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud.