Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: An Abundance of Katherines - John Green

An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Clear
On Goodreads

Let me start off by saying I have not actually read this book in its entirety. Rather, a good half it was read to me, which I definitely recommend if you have anyone that can read with a horrible southern accent.

Anyway. Four stars, and three reasons I'm hoping will convince you of this novel's splendiferousness. Seriously, it's rather difficult to think about this novel in another way; I can't use real words because then I'll slightly understand what I mean and that's never meant to happen with a John Green book.

First off, I had a lot of expectations for Katherines. It's a John Green book, I thought excitedly, it must be as beautifully depressing as TFIOS and just as complex and . . . yeah. Do not go into this book with such expectations because it's not wildly compelling or fascinating; I did not connect with our three main characters (other than Lindsey at times) because the novel plays out more like a narrative and it took me until rather late to start sympathizing at all with Colin's angst-inducing problems. He seemed so miserably static for such a long time and I could not see past his quirks and his whining. The big punchline has loads of powerful rippling effects for Colin and his life, but it wasn't until this that I really felt some good, sincere, accepting, and unrewarded thought from Colin:
I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. (Green, 213)
And now onto why this book is so good. Though somewhat repetitious, the humor is woven into nearly every detail and keeps us from tearing into Colin's quirky-for-a-bit-then-slightly-irritating Colin-ness. Every so often, man boobs and stupid male jokes keep the fire alive. It's hard to separate the humor from Colin and Hassan's relationship, which I think deserved a bit more exposition but at the same time, was beautifully displayed. Hassan is the type of laid back, kind of horrible, slobish, philosophical best friend that Colin needs to keep himself upbeat. Though not all bits will leave you dry heaving, the humor doesn't stop. (Note: the footnotes are literally the best bits in terms of humor. If nothing else, people seem to appreciate and praise them the most and I could not agree more, they disrupt the narration and inject some pretty fantastic John Green wit into other pieces of fantastic, John Green wit.)
The Arabic seemed to render everyone uncomfortable or something, because no one talked for a few minutes except Hassan, who kept saying that the quail (it was quail, not tiny chicken) was excellent. And it was good, Colin supposed, if you happened to enjoy searching through an endless labyrinth of bones and cartilage for the occasional sliver of meat. (63)
The narration is fantastically simple, but there is an amazing amount of depth and consideration to those words, as evidenced by the math. The math was one of my favorite bits not only because it adds layers to the story, and because it's actually fascinating to try to understand; the simple fact that John Green had someone help construct the foundation for those math layers is just astounding. So much work was put into this book, and I respect that. There is a genuine drive behind Colin's efforts to be remembered, to change the world in a way that only teenagers desire to, and that is the second layer of depth that I pull from, because it resonates with me and anyone who has ever felt underwhelmed by themselves.

- Marlon

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