“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”
- An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
I’ve been on a John Green high recently and I’m not quite sure why. My best guess though is that his writing style is simple and straight to the point (I’m a big fan of this type of tone), and his story lines are always so compelling from the get-go. Given these, I’m able to finish his books in a day or two — a big feat for a slow reader like me! In fact, I hopped on to another of his books after An Abundance of Katherines. But more on that next time.
Seventeen-year-old child prodigy Colin Singleton headlines An Abundance of Katherines. Colin loves anagrams, general information, and other stuff that keep his brain going. Throughout the book, he works hard to attain a “genius” status, wanting to so badly come across a “Eureka!” moment which he deems important in determining his mark in the world. This constant struggle runs parallel with a recent breakup — Katherine XIX dumps his sorry ass, and Colin, seemingly without a choice, tries in vain to get his life back on track. (He’s been dumped by 19 Katherines; ergo, the title.)
Shortly after the break up, Colin commissions his best friend, Hassan (a bum, to put it succinctly), to join him on a roadtrip to nowhere, hoping to effectively forget about Katherine XIX and ultimately arrive at his Eureka moment. The two boys inadvertently come across Gutshot, Tennessee, where they stay a while and meet all sorts of characters that play an integral part in their journey to self-transformation.
I enjoyed this book; it’s one of those literary pieces that will get you to really feel something. I am partial to the fact that it touches heavily on the concept of mattering. I guess one of the main questions the book raises is this: what on earth are you here for?
And because I was all so fascinated by the book’s main theme, I will let slip the fact that some circumstances presented in the book were too good to be true, and that the little twists toward the end were a bit predictable and corny.
An Abundance of Katherines is the most chick-litty of all the John Green books I’ve read, just more beefed up and relevant. This isn’t to say that being chick-litty is a bad thing (I’m a big fan and I’m not ashamed to say it hahaha), but if you are after deep, mind boggling prose, then this book probably isn’t for you. Take away Colin’s many realizations and the characters’ trillion discourses and you’re left with a fairly predictable love story.
All in all though, this was an enjoyable read. Hassan, in particular, was hilarious — it’s been too long since I last laughed out loud while reading. And as is the case with any John Green book, you’re bound to pick up a thing or two about life, love, and friendship. So many quotable quotes in this one, too!
“There’s some people in this world who you can just love and love and love no matter what.”
“What matters to you defines your mattering.”
“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.”
“The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.”
“You matter as much as the things that matter to you. And I got so backwards trying to matter to him. All this time, there were real things to care about: real, good people who care about me, and this place. It’s so easy to get stuck. You just get caught in being something, being special or cool or whatever, to the point where you don’t even know why you need it; you just think you do.”
On a side note, since we are on the subject of mattering, I hope you can check out my friend Isa’s blog entry (click, click!!). It’s beautiful and inspiring, I promise. :)
Book cover was grabbed from the Internet.