Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Contemporary Summer: Road Trip Week! Review of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Publisher: Speak
Released: August 14th 2008 (first published September 21st 2006)
My Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washedup child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl.

Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.
(from Goodreads)

An Abundance of Katherines is the reason I am not a John Green fan. Shock and horror, I know. But I didn’t enjoy this book and thus have been put off John Green books in general. The thing is, I love John (and Hank!) Green’s YouTube channel and his awesome videos. His writing, however, is not for me. The reason I haven’t attempted his other books is because I feel like his writing is a certain style that would probably appear in all his books, and I just don’t think that it’s my cup of tea (though I may pick up one of his other books some day just to have another go). So now I have that explanation out of the way, on to my review!

Colin was the main reason I did not like this book. He was just so annoying and whiny and self-absorbed and a crybaby, and I just wanted to shake him and tell him to pull himself together. I understand his life wasn’t working out the way he wanted and that he felt like a “washed up child prodigy”, but he didn’t do anything about it! He just moaned about it, over and over again. It was hard to feel sympathy for him. He didn’t try to change anything – all his failures with the Katherines didn’t surprise me, because he didn’t even attempt to look at what went wrong in a previous relationship and fix it in the present one. He just waltzed into the relationship and hoped it would all be good this time and didn’t try to learn from his mistakes. If I’m honest, I really don’t blame any of those girls for breaking up with him. And it astounds me that he managed to even date nineteen (okay, I know some were from childhood days and that one girl was more than once, but still) Katherines. And not only that, but he was painfully boring. Honestly, his personality was just...dull. His constant anagramming got on my nerves (I didn’t see the point to it. Was it meant to be some kind of quirk? Because all it really did was make me hate anagrams) and while the fact that he was extremely intelligent could have been interesting, he ruined it by always whining that no-one appreciated his intelligence, or he didn’t feel like he could be a genius anymore (he was just a failed prodigy, oh noes!).  He also needed attention and reassurance all the time. I just wanted to tell him to get over himself. And ON TOP OF THAT, he was a total, utter hypocrite. It was like he thought girls didn’t like him because he was too smart, nerdy and not really good looking, and that was just so unfair, why didn’t they appreciate his personality and look past outer beauty? But did he ever look twice at a nerdy smart girl himself? No. All the girls he liked were super hot and pretty. He was so busy whining, probably thinking that it was so unfair how all these pretty girls judged him and only went for hot guys that he didn’t stop to look that he only had this problem because he only EVER liked pretty girls with similar personalities. He judged them for doing the exact same thing he was doing. The hypocrisy! I wanted to slap this boy, I really did.

Hassan was one of the book’s only redeeming characters, because he actually had a sense of humour. I liked some of his scenes and he was probably the best character, though I didn’t understand why he was friends with Colin (or why anyone would be friends with Colin). I felt bad for him at times actually, because Colin could be a really crappy friend and he wasn’t really treated the way a best friend should be treated.

Lindsey was just...uh. I don’t know. I found her pretty cookie-cutter, despite the fact she was meant to be different and quirky. And guess what? She was really pretty. Surprise, surprise, Colin. Honestly, their relationship was just blah. Too fast, boring and I just really, really didn’t care what happened to them. At all. By the end I just wanted the book to finish. Usually I’m rooting for characters to end up together and ride off into the sunset, but at that point I honestly wouldn’t have cared if an alien invasion came and wiped them both out.

Another thing that bothered me was that the book was supposedly a road trip book (hence it being reviewed during “Road Trip” week) but the road trip lasted about five seconds. It was more like a car journey. Nothing really happened during the “road trip” (except Colin moaning, probably) and it ended and then some new stuff happened (though it really was just “stuff”. There wasn’t a real storyline). So yeah...what the hell.

Ahh I feel like this is coming across as overly harsh. I mean, I can see that the book wasn’t badly written and that the concept was intriguing and the mathsy section was pretty unique and clever (though I am terrible at maths, so I cannot vouch for this). But I also found the book a little...pretentious?  Unrealistic teen language, superiority. And it was like it was supposed to be meaningful, that teens were supposed to “get” it and relate to the characters and be all like, “Yeah, that’s so me. This is so awesome and has totally changed my way of thinking. Screw the world, I’m just gonna be me!” And while I always appreciate the message of “being yourself” and not changing your whole personality just so someone will like you and learning your true identify and doing what’s best for yourself etc. etc., I felt like the whole thing was just too much. Like the moral of the story (whatever it really was, because I couldn’t actually tell) was being dangled in front of my face shouting, “See me! I’m so cool! See me!” It was trying too hard to be soo original different and out there and failed, just turning into something annoying and repetitive.

Overall, I just did not enjoy this book. It was trying too hard and I didn’t really like any of the characters. If you’re a huge John Green fan, maybe give it a go, otherwise I can’t recommend it.
Visit Cait's blog for her review of In Honor by Jessi Kirby.


  1. I haven't read this one yet but I haven't liked any of the John Green books I've read. You think you were being harsh? You should read my review of Looking For Alaska. ;) Everyone says I have to at least try this one so I probably will but I doubt I'll like it.

  2. I have never read John Green, but I've mostly heard all amazing things about his style, characters etc. From what you've said about Colin though, he sounds like a pain in the ass! Also I hate it when YA books do unrealistic teen speak - just never works for me. I'm guessing these teens speak like Dawson's Creek then!

  3. GASP. *reads rating and not a John Green fan and is actually really intrigued to read the rest of your review*

    I don't know if it's a bad thing or not, but you had me giggling at your many heated Colin comments LOL. I find it highly amusing how much he aggrevated you, although I'm sure you don't feel the same way :P But I can ABSOLUTELY understand your issues with him... he doesn't sound all that likable (AT ALL), to be honest.

    I've only read one John Green book and that was The Fault In Our Stars, which I loved, but I do agree with your point about unrealistic teen language. While I did love TFIOS, I noticed they sounded way too intelligent compared to MY conversations at that age... uh... nmaybe that says more about me? :P

    Despite the rating and your annoyance, this was actually a brilliant review LOL.


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