Laugh Out Loud Funny
Publication Date: August 14, 2008
First Published: September 21, 2006
Length: 235 pp
2007 Printz Honor Book
Booklist, Kirkus, Horn Book
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When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and may finally win him the girl.
John Green can make even math-loving geeks appealing. Wallowing in the misery of his nineteenth post-Katherine breakup, half-Jewish nerd boy Colin is coaxed from his Chicago bedroom to the open road by his best friend and comedic sidekick, Hassan. A John Hughes-worthy summer road trip adventure ensues that ultimately finds the guys living in a pink house in a stick-in-the-mud town called Gutshot, Tennesse.
With a major motion picture soon to open, it seems that book lovers everywhere who have not been living under a rock have read Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I wonder how many of those readers have already experienced An Abundance of Katherines. Katherines has its own cast of quirky teens. It’s as laugh-out-loud funny as TFIOS is poignant. So, if you’ve recently read TFIOS, I suggest you take a trip to Gutshot with Colin and Hassan for a good ol’ gut-bustin’ laugh.
The love story element is believable and natural. Again, if you’ve read TFIOS, you might see some similarities here. In each book, the romantic pair has certain dialogic catchphrases all their own.
Watching Colin dissect his history of failed Katherine romances is enjoyable and humorous, but peppered with enough genuinely relatable moments that it never slips into absurdity. I am amazed that I, a girl whose love for Math was quickly replaced by loathing and contempt once I made the acquaintance of formulas and graphs, actually had fun reading a book about a kid out to prove a mathematical theorem. And to top it all off, I even read an entire appendix written by a mathematician explaining the math behind the book. Willingly. And not only did I live to tell about it, I actually liked it.
Mind you now, it’s not all hilarity and hijinks. Thematically, the novel explores common coming-of-age territory: identity, significance (meaning, popularity, impact), and love. As far as identity, Katherines explores and encourages creating one’s own image or path versus being defined by how others may perceive you, or being swayed by what the world says or thinks you should be. Colin spends a lot of time grappling with the label “prodigy,” as he’s keenly aware it is a temporary state that he’s already outgrown. And since he’s not a genius but a kid who works hard to be exceptional, he fears he’ll never do or create something meaningful and lasting. (Sound like another Green character who names oblivion as his fear?)
John Green has a talent for communicating through his fictional creations the existential thoughts and feelings experienced by real-life teenagers around the globe. Endearingly random and just a touch geeky, he seems himself an overgrown teen. And judging by the large number of adults gobbling up his books, I’d venture to ask, “Aren’t we all?”
— Dawn Teresa
4.5 of 5 Hearts. Laugh Out Loud Funny.
John Green’s second novel — a quirky, memorable comedic summer road trip/unexpected romance — is a good landing spot for readers of The Fault in Our Stars looking for a story that will make them laugh, minus the tears.