“An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green Review

Abundance of Katherines

I picked this one off my shelf as I’m currently reading a rather voluminous Grover Cleveland biography and a tedious Dark Tower book and wanted something quick I could alternate to when I my eyes needed a break. In that respect, it was a successful pick, as I flew threw it and it was the only book I got my goal of 25 pages a day in for the week I just spent in Seattle. As a young adult book, or even compared to John Green’s other books I’d read I thought this was a notch below with characters that didn’t feel particularly real and a pretty predictable plot.

The plot of An Abundance of Katherines is that Colin is a former child prodigy who has only one friend Hassan. Colin is dumped by Katherine XIX, the 19th girl he has dated named Katherine. Since it’s summer break and there’s nothing else to do, Colin and Hassan go on a road trip and end up in town called Gutshot where they meet a cute girl named Lindsey. Lindsey’s mom Hollis offers the boys $500 a week to interview town residents to get an oral history of the town of Gutshot. Will Colin get over his broken heart of being dumped? Will Hassan get motivated to go to college? Will the cute girl be the key to these developments?

Meanwhile, Colin is also attempting to develop a mathematical equation that will accurately predict a relationship’s demise based on factors like who is the dumper and who is the dumpee, attractiveness and popularity levels, etc. There’s even an extensive index in the back explaining the mathematical formula. More interesting to me were tons of footnotes which gave interesting facts such as there’s no scientific support for drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Much of this stuff set this book a bit apart from standard YA relationship fare, but not enough the really recommend this as a standout of the genre.

In honor of Colin’s formula, I’ll try some math on my own. My least favorite part of An Abundance of Katherines was the premise that this child prodigy would date 18 different women named Katherine. The character was portrayed as somebody that would almost never make the first move on a girl, had bad luck with girls in general, and wasn’t even targeting girls named Katherine was the first ten or so girls. According to the social security administration website, in the years that Colin (the protagonist of this book) was born, there were roughly 11,000 girls named Katherine being born per year. The protagonist even futher states that he doesn’t date Katies or Catherines, but just Katherine’s. My own experience growing up (and I was born in 1984, so about four years earlier than Colin) was that all the girls named Katherine went by Katie. Even in a big city like Chicago, at any given school/summer came, I see no way 10 different girls named Katherine would go by Katherine and then go by Katherine would all go for the same socially awkward not particularly attractive guy. In 2006, there was about 2.6 million people and 320 million in the country. At 0.565 percent of the female population being named Katherine, and assuming a 3 year age range based on the appendix of girlfriends in the back of the book, my math says there’s 22,000 girls of age named Katherine in the city. However if he goes to a school with 2000 people and meets another 500 at summer camps, that’s a likely 7 girls with the birth name of Katherine that he would meet. The premise was fine, but 18 was too high of a number. I could have bought it if it was 8 or maybe even 9, but anything higher than ten took me out of the book.

3 star

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