An Abundance of Katherines

This book, without a doubt, is a book for nerds. I don’t think it matters what kind of nerd — I’m only a book nerd, after all, with a dabbling of music and math nerditry — but I think you might have to be at least a little bit of a nerd to truly enjoy this book. (And since I think most people are at least a little bit of a nerd…)

Colin — former child prodigy and recent high school graduate — has a tendency to not only date girls named Katherine, but to get dumped by them. After the most recent dumping — by Katherine XIX — he and his friend Hassan decide to go on a road trip. They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they learn a little about themselves, about relationships, and about trusting in the unknown.

That’s the basic plot, anyway. What I really liked about the novel, and the reason I think it’s worth it to read, is the footnotes. I’m an obsessive footnote reader, which sometimes gets in the way of the reading experience. But in this case, they made the book for me. They were snide, funny, and oh-so-John Green (at least the way he comes off in his vlog). And the afterword/appendix was fascinating, too (although Green wrote that it was “optional” to read.) The book was pretentious, like Looking for Alaska, but in this case the pretention wasn’t taken so seriously and therefore worked better. Sure, Colin was soul-searching, looking for the Truth and the Meaning of Things. But it wasn’t so weighty, so oppressive a search as Miles’s was. And I think Green’s style works better when he’s not being so Heavy. (A side note about the language: it was cleaner than Looking for Alaska, but only because there’s a wonderful homage — which I didn’t know was one until they spelled it out for me — to Norman Mailer. If you’ve read him — I haven’t — you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, well, then, you’ll either have to read some Mailer, or read this book.)

I’m glad Green’s writing books (especially ones where the nerd gets the girl, and it doesn’t come off as forced or contrived); it’s about time nerds got some respect. And Green’s just the person to give it to them.


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