“An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green

In “An Abundance of Katherines,” Green writes yet another phenomenal fictional story with an enticing plot full of twists and engrossing characters that are easily relatable. Green has an extraordinary ability to create personalities that every teenager will find an attribute to relate to. He introduces the main character, Colin Singleton, very subtly though manages to make him a sophisticated character. I think Green successfully reveals the thoughts that run through Colin’s exceptionally complex mind through third-person view. Furthermore, the use of footnotes throughout the novel helps to reveal hilarious and random thoughts that enter Colin’s mind, making this novel all the more better to read.

A major theme in the first quarter of this novel was that as a part of one’s struggle to identify himself, one may experience various emotions in his teenage years. Colin wants to matter in the world, as first revealed in chapter 2, when he tells his friend Hassan, a “rather fat, hirsute guy of Lebanese descent” (8) about being dumped by Katherine XIX. As a result, Colin attempts to formulaically solve his relationship problems, believing that there is an equation to everything. Because of this, I begin to feel pity for Colin. He feels that the only way to prove why he has been dumped a number of times is through discovering a mathematical equation. He evidently lacks self-confidence, social skills, common sense, and the ability to connect on an emotional level.

To find this “equation,” Colin embarks on a road trip with Hassan. Although I greatly enjoy reading the humorous moments that occur on Colin and Hassan’s road trip, I sometimes think that the plot is a little unrealistic. It was interesting that Colin’s parents even let their child prodigy son who has just been dumped for the 19th time to leave for the entire summer with Hassan, who seems like a pretty unreliable person considering he would rather stay at his parents’ house to watch TV than to attend college. Not only is Colin heading on this road trip as an emotionally unstable teenager, but he and Hassan have no direction in this trip.

I think simply the fact that Colin is leaving everything behind for the summer just to try and forget about a previous relationship is very unusual; however, this is what piques my interest and makes me want to continue reading as Colin and Hassan embark on many more adventures.

~Yifan Mao

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15 Comments

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15 responses to ““An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green

  1. Blog Post 1:

    In reading the first section of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherine’s I was surprised by how distinct it was. The hero of this novel, Colin, is certainly unique in himself, although not because of his status as a child prodigy. What struck me about Colin’s character was in fact his quirky outlook on life, the way he seems to view every situation as white and black. He analyzes every emotion he has, every experience he has been through in such a calculated way really ads to the intellectual aspect of the novel. I immensely enjoyed how Green uses Colin’s intelligence to portray the different emotions he feels as well. For example, relating his feeling of emptiness to the bullet shot through Franz Ferdinand gave me a much clearer picture of his grief.
    However, though I have enjoyed these beginning chapters, I do have to agree with Yifan in that the plot of this novel is a little unrealistic. Firstly, no matter how eccentric someone is, if their a genius, a prodigy or even your average Joe, nobody resolves to exclusively date girls named Katherine. A name fetish is practically unheard of, and in a boy so young to have dated nineteen girls named Katherine? It’s highly unlikely. Secondly, Yifan is right, no parent would let their depressed and naïve son go off with his indolent friend on a three month road trip right after high school. Especially if these two teenagers had absolutely no plan as to where their route would take them. Despite the artistic license taken here, though, I have still enjoyed these beginning chapters, and look forward to following Colin on the rest of his journey.

    -Olivia Fuson

  2. Blog Post 1:
    I too have enjoyed reading “An Abundance of Katherines”, though perhaps not as much as “The Fault in our Stars”. Where “The Fault in our Stars” was a very romantic and sweet book I am finding “An Abundance of Katherines” a bit too far-fetched for my liking. It is not necessarily the fact that Colin’s parents are allowing him to go on a road trip directly after high school, for I know many people who have gone to Europe by themselves once they graduated. Rather, it is that Colin could even find nineteen girls names ‘Katherine’ to date and continue on to write an equation for why they would dump him. Maybe he’s just not very likeable.
    Something else that I find extremely unrealistic is that there could possibly be an equation to determine why he was dumped. Every person is unique, and for his equation to work it would have to incorporate hundreds of variables. There is no way that he could predict everything.
    I enjoy the character of Colin Singleton, however he kind of annoys me with how he wallows so much in self-pity. I agree with Yifan on the point that this boy is lacking some serious skills, skills which most people were taught as young children.
    I particularly enjoyed how Green structured the book with the use of footnotes. Not only was that a creative mark that he has placed in this novel, but it works well in showing how the mind of Colin, child prodigy and possible genius’s mind works. With the use of these subheads Green is able to include fun ramblings that authors would typically have to omit, adding a familiar touch to the novel.
    -Renee Perrine

  3. Blog Post 1:
    I, so far, have found “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green to be a lighthearted, entertining novel that is amusing to read, but on ethat I cannot really take to heart or read too seriously. For starters, I agree with Renee regarding the fact that the entire situation seems quite far-fetched and unrealistic. Since Colin is lacking in some important social skills, HOW had he found NINETEEN girls willing to date him that were all named Katherine. This aspect of the book is enticing because it makes the reader curious, but at the same time is not very believable.

    I also agree with Renee on the fact that “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green was more thoroughly enjoyed from the beginning. I am not a fan of the scenes which include Colin’s roadtripping with Hassan, which is most of the book. I do, however, enjoy the parts of the story which ecplain his experiences with the Katherines. The roadtrip format is just not one that appeals to me personally.

    In both of John Green’s novels that Ihave read so far, travelling has been a large part of them. Looking at the back of the book, I see a picture of one of John Green’s other books titled “Paper Towns” with a roadmap in the background. I think there is a purpose to the traveling incorporated in Green’s stories. It may be that as the character travels and experiences new things, they grow as people. I will have to wait and see if this hypothesis is correct.

    Although the plot so far and the characters in “An Abundance of Katherines” are not as fascinating to me as those in “The Fault in our Stars”, I am still deeply in love with Green’s, casual yet connective writing style that speaks directly to my heart. I am greatly anticipating reading the next part of “An Abundance of Katherines”. -Amy Moring

  4. yifan9898

    I agree with Amy and Renee, as I continue to read, that “An Abundance of Katherines” is not as strong as John Green’s novel, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Though both have quirky and unique characters, the plot of “An Abundance of Katherines” is not as enticing and appealing to me personally. Reading two John Green books back-to-back is a great way to compare his works and the different methods he uses to introduce the characters, setting, etc. In TFIOS, Green quickly captured my attention and made me fall in love with the story from the beginning. Whereas with “An Abundance of Katherines,” I not only get easily bored with the repetitiveness, but also rather annoyed with the fact that Colin cannot separate himself from finding the Theorem. Although I found TFIOS to be more inspiring, I greatly appreciate the casual yet connective language, as Amy mentioned, that Green continues to use throughout this story.

    Amy pointed out an interesting recurring motif in John Green’s books: traveling. This idea of embarking on a journey to mature by experiencing a new lifestyle or discovering new surroundings is evidently a substantial part of Green’s novels. With that being said, I agree with Amy that there is a strong purpose to the traveling incorporated in Green’s stories. I anticipate an event or a “Eureka” moment to occur in “An Abundance of Katherines” to prove that traveling is a big part of growing up as a person.

    Lastly, I would like to bring up the character of Lindsey Lee Wells. She is a significant character because the introduction of her to the plot provides a unique twist. Lindsey begins to teach Colin that it is possible to continue life with people other than Katherines, and that he can grow to care about other people besides himself and the Katherines. Though he does not actually acknowledge it, readers can infer that Colin is starting to care about Lindsey. This is an important step for Colin because it demonstrates that he is finally beginning to escape his restrictive love for girls named Katherine. The fact that Colin is gradually understanding this gives me hope that someday he will not devote his life to finding an equation for relationships; instead, he will allow love to “do its thing” and allow new people to come into his life.

  5. Blog Post #2

    Though I have never read another of John Green’s books, I feel that I can still make an accurate assumption of his overall style from reading “An Abundance of Katherines.” Through the crude, simple language used by many of his characters I believe that Green attempts to create a relation with his audience. The casual use of language (often profane) that Yifan and Amy both noted hints that Green’s target audience is teenagers. However, when reading this story I felt that it wasn’t relevant to the average teenager’s life. Colin and Hassan seem too quirky to relate to the average teenager. Colin is a child prodigy, which in unto itself is an unimaginable condition. Hassan is more in touch with reality, but is still quite aloof and his lack of ambition confuses me. Lindsey Lee Wells also lacks ambition, which is a completely foreign perspective to me. To have no dreams, goals or ambitions at such a young age seems highly unlikely.
    Colin, on the other hand, is an entity completely comprised of ambition. His only hope of happiness, he thinks, is to become a “genius.” To outgrow the stigma of being only a child prodigy-learning what others have discovered-and become a genius and create something original is his only drive, his only goal. This need to “matter,” is more understandable to me, however, Colin seems to take it to extremes. I think that one of Green’s main messages so far is that to be truly happy, one needs to find a middle ground between excess ambition and complete complacency. Hassan seems to be at an impasse in his life due to lack of direction, while Colin seems to be at an impasse as well due to lack of means to fill his need for importance. Though I feel that his methods may be juvenile, Green’s message is important and I remain interested in this novel.

    -Olivia Fuson

  6. Blog Post #2

    The more I read of “An Abundance of Katherines”, the more I am finding Colin Singleton to be nothing more than an infuriating figment of Green’s imagination, too questionable even for a fiction book, designed for the single purpose of annoying me. I understand both that this is a creative piece of work, thus created not to appeal to everybody, and that my judgment is pretty extreme however, I cannot get past a few specifics. My mind is continuously drawn to these two points:
    -How on Earth is a socially-deprived, self-obsessed person such as Colin Singleton able to captivate even the momentary attention of seventeen girls- seventeen girls all named Katherine?
    -Why would two girls living alone invite two male strangers to live with them?
    The latter, although still perplexing to me, I am at least able to create a somewhat plausible response to. Hollis and Lindsey Lee Wells are trusting, generous and build relationships on faith, in addition Hollis wanted to employ Colin and Hassan and board was part of the deal, yet I do not understand why she would offer it to them.
    On a positive note, I still enjoy Green’s writing. I agree with Olivia on the point that Green’s familiar style of writing makes the reading enjoyable, more so for me as how his books are directed towards the teenage audience. I too, find the point of how so far all the books written by John Green that I have yet read all host the common theme of travel an interesting one.
    In regard to Yifan’s remark that states that Lindsey Lee Wells offers a unique twist to the plot, does she? I think that the introduction and continuation of her character was very expected. For me, it became obvious very quickly that Colin would become introduced, and most likely attracted to later in the book, a girl who was named something other than Katherine.

    -Renee Perrine

  7. I stand by my opinion from last time that the story is quite far fetched and unrealistic in that Colin has dated so many girls. However, this idea makes the potential teenage reader curious for how it is played out and incorporated in the story. Therefore, I agree with Renee’s statements above.

    I also think that it can be safely predicted that Colin, at the end of the novel, will date a girl that is not named Katherine (Lindsey Lee Wells) and that their relationship will work out much better than his previous relationships. Because of this prediction, I feel that the theme of the novel will be that in order to find happiness, one must accept a change in his life and step out of his comfort zone. By going on the road trip and moving in with the strangers they meet, Colin is doing just that, so therefore the two intertwining plots play off of each other and symbolize each other.

    Green’s writing in the second quarter of the book has remained relatable, lighthearted and pleasurable.

    On the topic of Colin and Hassan moving in with the two girls, I find this as Green’s way of depicting the type of town that they live in. It is small and trusting; everybody knows everybody. For this reason, I can believe Hollis and Lindsey’s motives behind this decision.

  8. yifan9898

    After reading the third section of An Abundance of Katherines, I can agree with Amy and Renee that it is easy to predict that Colin will date a girl whose name is not Katherine, most likely Lindsey. I can safely say this because I think that Lindsey needs Colin. Lindsey has lived in Gutshot her entire life and has essentially been trapped there. Lindsey needs Colin to show her that she is actually worth something. Especially since Lindsey is dating The Other Colin (TOC), she has almost forgotten who she truly is and what she loves to do. When around Colin, Lindsey brings herself to admit, “I’m full of shit. I’m never myself. I’ve got a Southern accent around the oldsters; I’m a nerd for graphs and deep thoughts around you; I’m Miss Bubbly Pretty Princess with Colin. I’m nothing. The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real” (150). Fundamentally, this book is about finding one’s identity in a world full of various complications. Lindsey and Colin are figuring out who they are, regardless of previous expectations or commitments. This becomes extremely prevalent, especially in this third section. By emphasizing the discovery to finding one’s identity, this book becomes much more relatable.

    Furthermore, I think that the growth Hassan experiences in this section is notable. Hassan is essentially a fat nerd with no goals in life; readers may even wonder if he has any true meaning to the story besides providing an occasional moment of comic relief. This road trip allows him to develop more of a character by opening up to new adventures. The trip not only allows Hassan to have a chance at love, but it also helps him find his identity and realize that he is more than just the fat nerd that he is. I was actually surprised when Hassan opened up his feelings to Katrina. For once, Hassan is unhesitant in stepping outside of his comfort zone. In fact, Hassan is actually willing to love someone else.

    Also, I have to say that I found this section of the book incredibly entertaining because it was refreshing to stray away from the slightly boring and mathematical aspect of the book. John Green has a great talent for bringing odd and dysfunctional yet lovable characters to life. After reading this section, I am eager to finish off the book to see what is in store for Lindsey, Colin, and Hassan.

    ~Yifan Mao

  9. Blog Post #3:

    This third section of “An Abundance of Katherines,” by John Green, has lead me to the conclusion that, though this story may be juvenile and far-fetched, it does hold some meaning in my life, and maybe in the lives of others. I agree with Renee and Amy that, yes, Colin and Hassan’s current living arrangement, Colin’s personality, and his dating history are all highly unlikely. In fact, this situation in its entirety goes so far as to move this story from the category of realistic fiction to the category of pure fantasy.
    However, despite the unrealistic nature of the novel, I do believe that Green brings up some important themes within this story. One major conflict within the novel is within Colin himself. He constantly wars with the idea of becoming irrelevant, fearful of what will happen if he fails to “matter.” Lindsey Lee Wells, on the other hand, originally had no need of mattering. Both were miserable. Now, however, as they both take the chance to step into each others’ worlds and understand each others’ goals and aspirations. As Colin’s need for importance lessens and Lindsey begins to find her need for importance, they both become happier. Though Green’s method of conveying his story is juvenile, I agree with his overall message. A balance of goals and enjoyment of the present is needed to produce true happiness.

    -Olivia Fuson

  10. Blog Post 3
    I agree with Yifan on how “An Abundance of Katherines” is about being able to find one’s identity.
    I agree that Hassan has become a further developed character since the beginning of the book; however, I feel that he is lacking several things that any primary character in a book should have, thus leading me to decide that he is not meant to be of any significance to the story but just to the plot. To me, this means that he is included in the book to further progress the chain of events, however, he is inconsequential to the specific message that Green is trying to convey about Colin. He is using Colin as his primary example of a lost boy finding his identity, with secondary examples being Lindsey Lee Wells and Hassan.
    I like the comment that Olivia made about how Colin needed to start worrying less about his importance and how Lindsey Lee Wells needed to start worrying about her own importance more. I think that this is a good message that Green is working to convey in his story- one must balance their own personal self-worth with the rest of their lives in order to be happy.
    At this point in the book it seems even the characters are getting tired of the story into which Green has placed them. This is apparent as even Colin seems to lose faith in his Theorem- a mathematical problem that this book seemingly revolves around.
    Although I speak poorly of Green’s novel, I feel that I may have secretly enjoyed it. I came to this conclusion while reading not only our group’s comments, but also those of another group who read “An Abundance of Katherines” as their first independent novel. I read almost all of the book in just one session, which prompts me to believe that I must have found something in it that I liked. In addition, I do not think that I would be so frustrated now if not for the reason that I care. Perhaps I am just upset with little things within the novel rather than the story itself.
    Renee

  11. Blog Post #3
    This section of “An Abundance of Katherines” brought about new themes and twisted the plot away from the shallow, unrealistic series of events that I predicted throughout the first half of the novel, due to Colin’s ability to find so many Katherines to date. Instead of the unrelatable, semi-unstable plot at the beginning of the book, Green has presented a new central message. By contrasting Colin and Lindsay’s outlook on life and personalities, Green conveys that a balance between being relaxed and worrying about one’s future is optimal. This is something I know that every high schooler, or human being for that matter, struggles with and especially for me, it is very relatable. I can finally be engrossed with this novel as usual and apply it to my own life.

    I agree with my group members that Hassan has grown immensly throughout “An Abundance of Katherines”. He is one ofthe most dynamic characters I have ever encountered.

    Although Green’s novel, “An Abundance of Katherines” is not up to par with “The Fault in Our Stars”, Iam growing more interested and do not have as many problems with the novel as I did in the first half. I would not be surprised in this novel came up to the level of “The Fault in our Stars” during the final section.

  12. yifan9898

    Rating: 5.5/10

    “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green is a coming-of-age, light-hearted story with unusual humor and witty characters. The characters in this novel are quirky and the plot is very entertaining. Though the story itself is not as powerful or moving as some of Green’s other novels, I still enjoyed reading it for its unique storyline and captivating humor. The ending of this book is obvious and predictable due to some foreshadowing and just the likelihood of something happening, like Hassan changing his views on college and life in general and Colin falling in love with a girl not named Katherine.

    The main character, Colin Singleton, is a fairly unlikeable character in the beginning of the book, being so self-centered and egotistical. But with friends like Hassan and Lindsey, he learns valuable life lessons and thus becomes a likeable character. Since the characters in this story are young adults, it makes the different emotions and events that each character experiences easily relatable to teenagers. Though most high school students probably would not date 19 girls by the same name or go on a road trip in the summer by themselves, it is the idea of escaping and being free that attracts YA readers to this storyline. Anyone that has ever been frustrated with something in their life feels the need to leave for a little bit, just like Colin.

    For me, the small details in this book make it truly memorable. The fact that the story includes short flashbacks to previous Katherines and is full of funny footnotes with anagrams and thoughts of a child-prodigy, as well as that one word that Colin and Hassan have that signals when a subject should not be further discussed all contribute to the unique and memorable story.

    “An Abundance of Katherines” is an easy and relaxing read; however, I do not think it is classroom material. There is simply not enough to discuss or explore for it to be a reading for a whole class. Every page from beginning to end is filled with funny moments. Even when the mood is sad, there will be a funny sentence (most likely said by Hassan) to lighten things up. I thoroughly enjoyed the amusement that the comical situations brought about. Though it surely is an odd book, I recommend it to any teenager looking for a quirky and entertaining book to read.

    ~Yifan Mao

  13. Final Review: 4/10 stars

    After reading the final section of An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green, I have come to the conclusion that it was, at best, a mediocre novel. Throughout the book I was skeptical of the fantastical characters and unbelievable plot. I was skeptical at the beginning, and my opinion didn’t change at the end. The characters were, overall, so unrealistic that I couldn’t relate to them. A child prodigy who has, somehow managed to contract nineteen girlfriends, and yet is so completely unpopular that he is physically beat up, is so far beyond the realm of possibility that I have absolutely no ability to relate to him, and he’s the protagonist of the novel. The plot was completely unrealistic as well. A single mother living with her teenage daughter and allowing two boys, two strangers, to live with them, down the hall from her daughter, even, is so farfetched that I couldn’t see past these discrepancies with reality to any meaning in the story whatsoever.
    When I was able to put the juvenile plot behind me, I wasn’t contented with the theme either. A reoccurring issue throughout the play was whether consequence or happiness mattered more. Though Colin was, in the beginning, a supporter of the cause of needing to mean something in life, in the end he was content with his potential withering away into nothingness as long as he was happy. I feel that the end to this book, or the overall theme, was actually a negative lesson. Finding purpose and meaning in life is just as important, if not more so, than simply “being happy.” Teaching readers that life is just about having a good time is unrealistic and completely juvenile, not to mention irresponsible. For these reasons, I was completely unsatisfied with An Abundance of Katherines.

    -Olivia Fuson

  14. Review: 3.5/10, slightly less than mediocre- at best
    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green was a completely and totally unsatisfying book that acted more as a burden than a pleasure to read. Upon reading An Abundance of Katherines I could find no greater meaning the story or plot and rather found it to be childish, immature, and unrealistic on such a high level that it should not be allowed to be called realistic fiction. However, while having a discussion on An Abundance of Katherines somebody from outside of our group pointed out a possible underlying message that included metaphors upon metaphors, leading me to the assumption that it was not the intended message at all. I would not recommend An Abundance of Katherines to anybody other than somebody I am not a fan of. While I do not know what the author was thinking in the creation of this book, I am still a fan of his writing- especially The Fault in our Stars, a book I would readily recommend.

    Cons:
    -character development
    -not being relatable to the reader
    -the constant involvement of The Theorem
    -the predictability of the story
    -the plot in general

    Pros:
    -creative use of footnotes
    -writing structure/ word choice

    Renee

  15. Blog Post #4: “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green
    Rating: 6/10

    “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green turned out to have a very predictable ending that did not surprise me at all. Colin’s life ends up working out with Lindsey Lee Wells, defying the theorem. I predicted this ending from the very first quarter of the book which exemplifies its lack of depth, suspense, and creativity.

    The one aspect of thisbook that I will give John Green credit for is that in the end, it turned out to be relatable. Although it was relatable on a very predictable, shallow level, it spoke to his audience regardless. Also, the general idea of dating nineteen girls each named Katherine was also very enticing at the beginning of the novel. In addition, it is also phrased and worded quite eloquently in the typical John Green style.

    Although I strongly believe that “An Abundance of Katherines” is much inferior to “The Fault in Our Stars” regarding depth and general universality, I am still quite interested in John Green as an author and reading the rest of his books. He has unique ideas for novels that rival that of many other amazing authors.

    -Amy Moring

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