Math and Love – An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

AN: This took way too long to write. The first paragraph was written December 15th to put it in perspective.

An Abundance of Katherines was given to me as an early christmas present by once if my dearest friends, Sophia. John Green is one of my most favorite authors and I idolise him as a writer. This book, like many others written by him, has convinced me that I no doubt got my money’s worth (or rather, she bought me something worth the money).

The story of An Abundance of Katherines revolves around 17 year old child prodigy Colin Singleton who has just been dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl called Katherine. His response to the breakup is well described within the first page which I will help myself to quoting;

The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath.

After having a little personal mental breakdown his friend Hassan comes over, calls him a sitzpinkler (which is German for wuss,

literally someone who sits to pee

) and invites him to a road trip. With much persuasion (Mom, I’m going on a road trip, bye) they leave, destination unknown.
On the second day of their road trip Colin and Hassan have an amazing debate about adventure and decide to turn to a town called Gutshot where the remains of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este are supposedly buried (Gutshot, having a population of just over 700, is rather unlikely to have the remains of a hundred year old Archduke at any rate). At the local convenience store they meet a young lady and paramedic-in-training Lindsey Lee Wells, who is coincidentally also their tour guide.
Hassan promptly introduces himself as

Hassan Harbish, sunni muslim. Not a terrorist.”

To which Lindsey replies in the best possible way.

Lindsey Lee Wells, methodist. Me neither.

I mean, come on that’s the best introduction of characters ever! Back to the story though, Colin somehow manages to fall square in his face causing it to bleed. Lindsey takes off her shirt for use as a temporary bandage (oh la lá).
After this Hassan and Colin are invited to dinner at Lindsey’s where her mother gives them an undeniable job offer. 500 Bucks a week to gather audio footage of history of the town from elders and such. And so, they take it.

I’ll leave it at that for the story, it’s the first few chapters in a nutshell. You’re probably more interested in my opinion though, so here it is.
The first thing that hit me when I started reading this book was the absolutely gorgeous start. Some authors just can’t get the start of their book right, they kind of rely on the reader trudging on through heaps of boring descriptions of things utterly irrelevant to the plot. John Green… not so much. The way the novel starts… it just beckons you to read more and read more now. John has absolutely no problem kicking his novel off and pulling us deeper with his witty jokes and dialogues that just feel so real.
That brings me to the second thing that I want to point out. I absolutely adore the way John writes dialogues and frankly I am yet to find any writer that writes them better than him. Even though I do enjoy descriptive writing more than dialogue and conversation based writing, John just grips me in and doesn’t let me go. I feel like I’m there in the background and actually hear the characters talking about dingleberries and stuff.
The characters also feel incredibly intricate, like real people, their feelings are fleshed out at multiple levels and they change with the plot. The only novel where the characters were more fleshed out, in my opinion, was The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff – my favorite author to this day.
The plot was extraordinary, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the book even though the plot might be regarded as stale by some, as it is basically the same thing over and over. The thing that made it so special is that I felt the thrill everytime Colin felt thrilled, I felt the excitement every time Colin felt excited, everything felt like I was there, which novels these days seem to have a trouble evoking in me these days (probably because I buy crappy books).

Memorable Quote:

I am crying, he thought, opening his eyes to stare through the soapy, stinging water. I feel like crying, so I must be crying, but it’s impossible to tell because I’m underwater. But he wasn’t crying. Curiously, he felt too depressed to cry. Too hurt. It felt as if she’d taken the part of him that cried.”

This has been, like all John Green books, a true joy to read. The way John writes, as was mentioned before, is fascinating and keeps me reading until the sun rises up the next morning (actually happened), and makes me want to order ALL OF HIS BOOKS, RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
Would I recommend this book to you? Yes.
Why would I recommend this book to you? The whole ‘trying to make sense out of a breakup’ motive is captured in a really nice way through the inclusion of math, now don’t get scared, there’s not a lot of it and it fills in the story very nicely. There’s also the beauty of the flashbacks written in the places where the plot cuts in a logical manner, some sort of a ‘go to sleep you have been reading for four hours now’ reminder.
Rating out of 10? 9, Lindsey isn’t secretly called Katherine.

For the next review, I will be looking at the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, which I got for christmas. Please note it will take very long to write this review. Thank you for reading, please let me know what you think about An Abundance of Katherines by submitting a comment, I’d love to hear your opinions!

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