March 25, 2009

Book #24: An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green is the second of his novels that I've read. And at the risk of spoiling something for you, in the previous novel, Looking for Alaska, someone dies. And as a result, I spent the entire time reading An Abundance of Katherines cringing, worrying that someone was going to be killed off at any moment.

Luckily, when not worrying about impending doom, I was laughing my ass off.
"We fatties have a bond, dude. It's like a Secret Society. We've got all kinds of shit you don't know about. Handshakes, special fat people dances- we got these secret fugging lairs in the center of the earth and we go down there in the middle of the night when all the skinny kids are sleeping and eat cake and fried chicken and shit." -from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Fat people lairs! Awesome. And where's my map?

Colin Singleton is a former child prodigy who's having trouble coming to terms with the fact that he's never going to be a genius. And immediately after graduating from high school, he's been dumped for the 19th time by a chick named Katherine. Dude doesn't know when to quit a losing streak.

In order to get over his breakup and work on his newest theorem, he and his best friend Hassan take off on a road trip out of Chicago and end up in nowheresville, Gutshot Tennessee. Due to an odd set of circumstances, they end up getting jobs and sticking around Gutshot for a while.

I don't know how you feel about footnotes, but if you don't care for them, you won't like this book. The book is covered in about eleventy hundred footnotes. Everything from definitions, encyclopedic descriptions, and translations of several different languages, to explaining the jokes. You remember the old saying, right? If you have to explain the joke, it's probably not funny? And then, there are the graphs, holy God, the graphs... I'm sure it's supposed to be clever and entertaining. I found them a bit twee.

But my favorite thing that John Green does is secondary characters. So far in the two novels I've read of his, I didn't care for the main character. They're teenage boys, so I'm not exactly going to identify, and man alive are they some self absorbed nerds. But the sidekicks and the love interests are great. The sidekicks are hilarious and get all the best lines. The girls are written mysteriously complex (which of course is why the boys fall madly in love with them). But I found them fascinating too, especially Lyndsey Lee Wells in An Abundance of Katherines. Someday I would love to read her story.

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