An Abundance of Katherines is the story of a child prodigy named Colin who has just graduated from high school and been dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine. After this latest and most devastating break up, he sets out to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability: a mathematical formula he designs that he believes can predict the outcome of any relationship.
I can see why people didn’t like this book as mush as John Green’s other novels. Colin comes across for much of the book as whiny and self-centered, and as a narrator, he is constantly going off on unrelated tangents, spouting irrelevant facts in the form of footnotes at the bottom of the page. However, these were the things I loved about the book. Colin’s character flaws are all part of his arc; over the course of the book, he realises how slowly that the world does not revolve around him and that sometimes you just have to live with what you’ve got, even if it happens to be nineteen breakups and a mathematical formula that doesn’t work. And as for the footnotes, I thought this wa remarkably creative way of showing the inner workings of Colin’s brain. He is very intelligent, and his brain constantly bouncing around from one thing to another, about a character without telling us something about a character. Despite Colin’s obvious flaws and tendency to go off on completely unrelated tangents every other page, I genuinely liked him as a character.
I love John Green’s writing – I always have, ever since I read The Fault in Our Stars and was left curled in the fetal position in my reading chair, clutching a box of tissues and trying to muster the strength to drag myself over to my laptop so I could tell Tumblr all about it. So imagine my surprise when, during my reading of An Abundance of Katherines, I did not shed a tear even once. I actually had to go back and look at the cover to check that it really was a John Green novel. I was so shocked. It was my first experience with a John Green book that had a happy ending. For a writer so talented at breaking reader’s hearts with devastating character deaths, you’d think John Green would be slightly less talented at writing stories that end in triumph of happiness, but you could not be more wrong in that assumption. The ending was beautifully crafted, the message of the book delivered subtly and elegantly, the main conflicts of the plot resolved as artfully as ever. Needless to say the entire book was exceedingly well written, jumping between scenes rich with profound meaning and bursts of dry humour that had me rolling on the floor laughing in the space of about a paragraph.
An Abundance of Katherines is charming, hilarious, taken on the all-too-familiar to be original, to be signigicant, and to leave a mark. It’s about the struggles we go through as we learn to strike a balance between standing out and fitting in, and that things don’t always turn out the way we plan them. But the unexpected holds many wonderful surprises – for Colin it’s a new life, and for me, it was this book.