Thursday, 13 September 2012

An Abundance of Katherines

John Green
9 / 10

From the blurb:When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge-Judy loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and may finally win him the girl.   

I loved this book!

For a while I've been picking John Green's books up, reading the blurb, and putting them back. Partly because I have a million other books to read, and partly because the price never seems to drop. However, I've finally read three of his books, and loved each one. 

Colin is a compelling protagonist - he's decided that having graduated from high school, he is washed up. He was a child prodigy, but has never managed to make the leap to genius and will therefore never make a valuable contribution to anything for the rest of his life. 
Until he discovers that relationships seem to follow a curve. Then it becomes all he can think about - can he predict any relationship's progress? Can he know how long it will last and who will dump the other person? 

I loved Colin's mixture of sadness and anger, and his need to rationalise everything. Hassan, on the other hand, barrels through life without thinking of the future. His father is rich, he reasons, so why put effort in? He has decided the same thing Colin has: he will never be remembered for a great invention. But his reaction is decidedly different - he enjoys this feeling, the lack of responsibility. Compared to these two, many of the characters are a little underdeveloped. Lindsey is a stupid, slightly wry teenage girl (though with a surprising softness, a vulnerability that I didn't expect when we meet one of the older residents of the town) and The Other Colin is a typical teenage jerk. I've met a dozen people like them in my own life, and it's almost disappointing to see them in the pages of a John Green book. 

This is by far the cleverest book I've read in a long time. The anagrams, the science of predicting relationships, it all blew my mind and instead of bogging down the story as I'd expected, it produced the same fervour in me that it did in Colin. 

Green's sense of wit shines in this book, more so than the others I've read, in his footnotes and also throughout the story. 
However, the ending was not what I expected. Overall, I found this book a bit too saccharine. Everyone's basically good, there's no real horror or pain. And the ending... well, I don't want to ruin it. But it made me want to wince. I put the book down knowing that I'll read it again, but I'm glad there's no sequel. 

Try this if you liked 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky, 'One Day' by David Nicholls or Jeffrey Eugenides' 'The Virgin Suicides'.

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