Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Abundance of Katherines

I've enjoyed John Green's work in the past and was looking forward to reading An Abundance of Katherines. Look at that gorgeous cover! Unfortunately, this book didn't match the unique fun of Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska. There is a formula to Green's writing: nerdy protagonist somehow manages to get fascinating, gorgeous girl, aided by his quirky, diverse friends. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The premise is a bit hard to take: former prodigy Colin has been dumped by nineteen girls named Katherine and decides to devise an equation to explain who will end a relationship first. What teenager knows that many Katherines?!

Colin and his best friend Hassan take a road trip to Tennessee, have various adventures involving girls not named Katherine, go on a hog hunt, get jobs at a tampon string factory, and that's about it. The banter that sparked the friendships in Green's other novels fell flat, weighted down by an excess of footnotes and the need to translate from all the different languages that Colin and Hassan share. The dreamgirl does not have the appeal of Alaska Young or Margo Roth Spiegelman, in fact, she doesn't even know who she really is. All of these elements, coupled with the constant whining of the protagonist we are supposed to root for, combine for the inevitable conclusion. On page 121, Green writes, "People are damn predictable". Sadly, sometimes novels are, too.

I found this novel to be too mature for a middle school audience, with cursing and many sexual references. Please read it yourself before recommending it to anyone...or skip it altogether.

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