Similar to my pick of Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi, my pick of An Abundance of Katherines is based both on how much I enjoyed that book and John Green as a whole. I read three John Green books this year. All of them were very good, but I liked this one best. John Green’s newest book A Fault in Our Stars, in on my best of 2012 book lists. I am looking forward to reading it early next year.
Coming of age novels hold a special place in my heart. Maybe I have not really grown up yet.
An Abundance of Katherines was a unique, funny take on the coming of age novel. Colin Singleton is a former child prodigy who is concerned that he is going to grow up and be average. His best friend Hassan, who is also smart, but unmotivated, decides to take Colin on a road trip so that Colin can get over his most recent breakup.
Colin’s girlfriend Katherine, after high school graduation broke up with Colin. That makes 19 Katherine’s that have broken up with Colin.
Colin and Hassan end up in Gutshot, TN working for the owner of a local factory (that makes the strings for tampons) doing oral histories of the town’s residents. Colin is obsessed with doing something that means something with his life. Hassan is just trying to avoid doing anything with his life. And their new friend Lindsay is trying to avoid leaving Gutshot, TN.
Colin decides to try to create a formula to predict who in a relationship would dump the other. This is going to be his jump from child prodigy to adult genius (a distinction that is made several times in the book.) This is not a book that is really surprising in its plot lines. Given the description, many could probably correctly guess at least a couple of the plot points. But it is an enjoyable ride.
There is a lot of humor. It can be a bit crude. I would not advise it for most kids under 15. But all three of the main characters, Colin, Lindsay and Hassan are basically good kids. They have basically good families and they are fairly well adjusted. Being well adjusted, smart, with prospects does not mean that everything is laid out for you. And I think that is what is good about this book. No matter what your parents try to do for you, growing up is still basically the responsibility of the individual.
The ending is not happily ever after, nor is it too cynical. It seems to be a good balance and fairly realistic (to the extent that any coming of age novel that finishes when the characters are all still 18). And the characters are well developed and basically likable (not perfect, but likable.)
If you liked Ready Player One, this has a very similar type of humor, without the science fiction or the 80s references.
I picked this up as an audiobook from my local library after having another John Green book recommended to me. Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars was Amazon’s number one recommended young adult book of 2012 in their list this week. I have already started another of Green’s books that I also found at the library.