An Abundance of Katherines is a book by John Green, who also wrote Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. It follows Colin Singleton, who has just been dumped by a girl named Katherine for the 19th time, and so gets dragged along on a road trip by his best friend. I found it hard to believe that someone like Colin would have had 19 girlfriends at his age, let alone them all having the same name, but it’s a fun if implausible premise to get the characters into the story.
It is my least favourite John Green book, and I think it’s because the characters don’t stick in your mind as well. They aren’t as memorable or interesting as some of his others. It’s told in third person, so we don’t know exactly what’s going on in Colin’s mind at any one time. Colin has a talent for anagrams, which I highly dislike. Anagrams themselves, I mean, I can never work them out. His best friend’s personality revolves around being a Muslim and liking Judge Judy. This actually isn’t a bad thing, since John Green did his research, and it’s rare to see this sort of book deal with Islam. His new love interest changes her personality depending on what group of people she’s with. There’s nothing wrong with doing that – I personally find I do it myself – but it makes her hard to pin down as a character.
That may sound like I dislike this book, but that’s not true at all. It’s a fun and enjoyable read, like all John Green books. I just don’t like it as much as his other books, but a not-as-good John Green book is still better than many other books out there. Not to mention that not as good is highly subjective here, and others may rank this one higher with his other books.
It is actually a great book for improving vocabulary. Since Colin is highly intelligent, well-read, and fluent in a few languages, he uses a very wide variety of words. One example – sillage, French word, for the smell that perfume leaves behind. There’s a word that needs to be in common vernacular English. Unlike most books, it actually focuses on some of the difficulties he has from being highly intelligent. He struggles to make friends, can be judgemental, and tends to go off on random tangents.
This book also uses several footnotes. Do you like it when footnotes are used in fiction? For me, they just break up the flow of the story, making me lose my place on the page. But again, subjectivity, someone else might have a different opinion on them.
I feel like people who were called prodigies when they were younger, only to find others catching them up as they got older, would enjoy this book, since Colin is dealing with a very similar situation.