Friday, April 3, 2009

Review: An Abundance of Katherines

John Green. An Abundance of Katherines.

An Abundance of Katherines feels like it wants to be a cross between Catcher in the Rye and a Judd Apatow movie. I feel that it's closer to A Separate Peace meets Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (with math!), which is still pretty darn good.

An Abundance of Katherines tells the story of Colin Singleton, hapless smart kid obsessing over making the transition from smart kid to genius while also dealing with being dumped by the 19th girl he's dated named Katherine. It does a great job showing the questions and anxieties that come with growing up and wondering if you'll ever manage to live up to your potential in a way that feels incredibly real. So, like all great works of literature and film, he grabs a sidekick (or, technically, the sidekick grabs him) and goes on a roadtrip. The roadtrip wasn't that important and ended pretty quickly (in Gutshot, TN) where our intrepid heroes met girls, got jobs (of a sort) and found themselves. But, of course, wacky hijinks ensued.

This novel makes brilliant use of footnotes! The footnotes kept making me laugh out lout (really!). There were graphs and everything. The math was hilarious and adorable (and I never think math is hilarious and adorable!). John Green is a master of voice and character development in a way that made this novel particularly amusing and does an excellent job at capturing nerdiness in the wild.

This novel is cute, and funny, and feels painfully real. It's also well-written in a way that makes me suspect that Green's novels will be read in schools and taught as literature sometime in the future. But it is very much a boy novel. That's not a bad thing, but it makes me worry that I associate a masculine voice with being important "literature." Could this book be written with female characters and a female perspective? In a way that's a stupid question, because that would be an entirely different book. But my question is, what novels about two very smart women hanging out, growing up, and finding themselves are award-winning literature? I should read those books. And if you know any teenage boys, they should read this one.

Will I be reading more John Green novels in the future? Absolutely. I can't wait for Paper Towns to come out in paperback. I read Looking for Alaska a while ago, and it is a beautiful, touching novel that I really loved.


  1. This is the only JG book I haven't read. Sounds great! Paper Towns is really good. Kind of a blend of the funniness/seriousness of the other two. :)

  2. This is my favourite John Green novel. I disagree that it is "very much a boy novel" though.