‘An Abundance of Katherines’ is the story of Colin, a child prodigy who has an addiction to dating girls called Katherine – and being dumped by them. By nineteen different girls called Katherine, to be precise. Following the break-up with the last Katherine, K-19, hot on the heels of their high school graduation, Colin has a bit of a mental breakdown and decides to go on a road trip with his best friend Hassan. They find themselves in Gutshot, Tennessee, after Colin spots a sign announcing that Gutshot holds the body of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and when they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother, Hollis, they decide to stick around for a little while.
This is a cute comtemporary read, but in all honesty it just doesn’t have much substance. Colin is a heartbroken teenager taking all of his problems out on his friends, while simultaneously attempting to create a theorum of relationship predictability. Due to Colin being a child prodigy, throughout the novel he works very hard upon crafting and perfecting his theorum, and this means that there are lots of graphs scattered throughout the book. I did think this was a good addition, adding some visual to the explanations Colin is giving, but it also left me with a bitter taste in my mouth – the one thing I hate most in this world is maths involving graphs. Similarly, Colin is a big fan of anagrams, meaning that throughout the novel we get bombarded with hundreds of them. It’s a very unique quirk to start with, but by about halfway through the novel it gets quite old quite fast.
His best friend, Hassan, is a much better character; I’m a big supporter of the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ campaign, so I thought it was brilliant to see an obviously Arabic Muslim character in a mainstream YA novel (I’m saying obviously because Colin is part Jewish, but this is not a fact that is very focused upon). There wasn’t as much focus upon Hassan’s praying and his religion as I desired, with Colin repeatedly complaining about how loud he prays instead of focusing upon the sentiment behind the prayer, but it was still good to see a minority character being represented.
However, other than that aspect there wasn’t much that made this book stand out. If you love John Green’s books, you’ll probably love this one – it doesn’t focus on a serious topic like ‘Looking For Alaska’ or ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, but his voice still shines through in his writing. If you love cute, contemporary romance novels, there are better choices out there, but not many of them have male protagonists, so that aspect will also be a selling point. This is not the best John Green book I’ve read, but it’s also not the worst; it was just quite an average read. Average isn’t a bad thing, because I did still quite enjoy it, I just didn’t love it.