An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

“What matters to you defines your mattering.”

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 finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska.

Award: Printz Honor (2007)

Personal Thoughts:

Colin Singleton is a prodigy, yet he never considered himself as a genius. He loves to anagram and been looking for his own Eureka moment since young. He also dated nineteen girls with a name of “Katherine” and all of them have dumped him. The last Katherine, K-19 has left him heartbroken. Which leads him to a road trip with his best-and-only friend Hassan. While on their trip Colin’s concentrate in finishing his mathematical formula to predict relationships because he believe that by doing so he will leave something behind in this world.

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

An Abundance Of Katherines gives me a different reading experience. The footnotes, mathematical equations, graphs and overflowing facts makes this book unforgettable for me. Each footnotes offers added information and funny details. The graphs and mathematical formulas excites me to read more. I want to know how the final formula will work. I want to see if Collin is smart enough to finish his formula and if it is really possible to predict a relationship using mathematics even the logical part of me tells otherwise.

But for those who doesn’t like mathematics as much as I do, don’t be frightened because this book is certainly beautiful even if you disregard the formulas and graphs. The story will still make sense and you don’t really need to prove or test each equations to understand what is happening to the characters or to the story. It doesn’t require a prodigy like Colins or a genius to appreciate this book.

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

Like with any other book of John Green that I have read, his main characters never fail to surprise me. They are unique, quirky, multi-layered and has a captivating perspective in life. Colin Singleton is no exception. He won my heart right at the start of this novel. He is a proof that John Green really can create smart characters without making the reader feel dumb. Because even if you are not a prodigy like Colin you can still relate to him. His desires to stand out and leave an indelible mark in this world is simply inspiring. Truth is, everyone wants to be special or at least to be someone’s special. We all want to feel that we are important, that somehow we matter to someone if not in this world.

“How do you just stop being terrified of getting left behind and ending up by yourself forever and not meaning anything to the world?”

I also love Colin’s preoccupation with anagrams and how he can’t tell a single story without giving interesting facts that according to Hassan are not all that interesting. Personally I find those facts entertaining if not all interesting. It doesn’t feel that I’m actually reading facts from textbooks or dictionary but more on encountering and understanding Colin’s head and exploring his interesting perspective.

Hassan is ridiculously funny. He had crazy ideas and dialogues that can make any reader laugh. But more than his witty side what I really like about Hassan is his loyalty to Colin. I like the friendship between them. They are total opposite and they even drive each other crazy but they still have each others back no matter what. They are honest and open with each other, pointing their weaknesses but stand by for each other regardless.

“Because you’re only thinking they-might-not-like-me-they-might-not-like-me, and guess what? When you act like that, no one likes you.”

I also enjoy their cool tandem, like when they speak arabic to each other or having a made up stories pretending to be someone else. They are simply hilarious and they complement each others craziness.

Lindsay, a girl who Colin and Hassan met during their road trip is also an interesting character. Her struggle to find her own identity is perfectly portrayed. How she was lost in all her roles that she forgot to really choose what she really want to be is something we can all understand. Sometimes it is easy to be lost like her. It is easy for us to be what other people expect us to be, to the point that we forgot to be what we really are or what we really want to be. Lindsay journey to find what she really is in this world is something we can all relate to.

Besides the characters and unique format of this book, An Abundance of Katherines also deals with different profound issues, like how we value ourselves, the importance of having goals and to be mattered. Our individuality sometimes are lost like Lindsay who always try her best to be perfect for others even her goals doesn’t really focus with them. And Colin’s obsession with Katherines proves that we can never find the person we lose to other person because everyone is different. No matter how identical their name or appearance is, they will never be the same person and we all need to move on.

“I don’t think you can ever fill the empty space with the thing you lost.”

An Abundance of Katherines is an intelligent novel written by an intelligent writer. John Green‘s creativity flaws fluently in this book. It is unique, smart and witty. I can list more adjectives to describe how beautiful this book is, but to make it short this book is brilliant like its main character, Colin Singleton. Definitely my favorite of John Green so far.