An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I heard John Green wrote tear-jerker novels of teenagers with cancer and bittersweet love stories. I started to doubt this upon seeing AAK’s cover: a troop of ladies staring right through your soul and they’re smiling. One would assume these were the abundant Katherines of the title and one might also assume that these Katherines would dominate the world like an alien invasion or some sort. The cover disturbed me which must be why I chose to read AAK first and I cried laughing. God, did I guffaw.
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 washed-up 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.
AAK is not a Sci-Fi novel of Katherines taking over the world (to my disappointment). The only event worthy as SciFi is Colin dating (and getting dumped) by 19 (18?) Katherines. So, figuratively speaking, Katherines did dominate the world; Colin’s.
Using a list (as I learned from the book itself + paragraphs are boring), AAK is:
1) AAK is more of watching than reading. It isn’t emotionally driving or imaginatively descriptive.
2) A breath of fresh air from metaphors and allegories in most novels but it may be the reason why AAK is forgettable. I heard a movie was on the works and I think it’d look better on film though there wouldn’t be much of a difference anyway.
3) AAK does not try to be serious or complicated. No plot and no whooping character development. If you like reading comic strips then you’d like AAK. It’s something you could casually read and just enjoy.
4) It is rather straight-forward and simple. Like a screenplay than a novel. It does not even try to build an atmosphere. It only tells us a story, similar to how you tell a story to your friend.
5) It has a fun, quirky appendix and a theorem of relationships. You could try it out here.
What I love about AAK is its depiction of a teenager’s life without emphasizing on angst. It presented how funny and beautiful life could be minus the metaphors and drama. Just kids being kids– Hassan making fun of life’s problems and Colin making life more or less complicated. I hear Hassan and Colin’s stupid jokes everyday with my friends. John Green could make ordinary and lame conversations funny by writing about it. I was almost disappointed when the end started getting philosophical and somewhat meaningful, as if John Green was trying to convey a significant message but ended up blurting it all out in the last pages. It felt like reading through my notes about ‘the things I’ve learned in this experience’ in my old Values textbooks. Somehow, the clumsiness felt very Colin and I ended up applauding for his shocking revelation that the future is unpredictable. Eureka indeed.
Novels do not have to be sad to make me realize something valuable. AAK is about trying to see life as less complicated but exciting, and sometimes funny, even in the most terrible situations. And enjoy once for a while!
And the moral of the story is that you don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened. And the second moral of the story, if a story can have multiple morals, is that Dumpers are not inherently worse than Dumpees – breaking up isn’t something that gets done to you; it’s something that happens with you. ”
–Other moral lessons
Share your thoughts about An Abundance of Katherines (in list, if possible)! I’d love to hear your thoughts.