Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2006)

New high school graduate and child prodigy Colin Singleton has just been dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine. Depressed into immobility, his best friend Hassan convinces him that a road trip is in order. Soon they end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, lured by a sign promising them the gravesite of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. There they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother Hollis, owner of a factory that make tampon strings. Colin and Hassan are hired by Hollis to interview the current and former employees of the factory for an oral history project. Meanwhile Colin is working on a theorem to predict the outcome of relationships and is testing his formula on all of his past relationships with Katherines.

The entire cast of characters was appealing, especially Colin, with his Jew-fro and his dorky love of anagramming and his desire to be not just a prodigy, but a genius. Quirky Muslim Hassan was hilarious as a sidekick, and I liked how he and Colin interacted. They sometimes spoke Arabic to each other - totally dorky! - but also made very boy-appropriate jokes involving words like "sphincter." You know, just to keep it real. I also like Lindsey a lot, and appreciated how torn she was between acting all bad-ass and popular and fearing that she was completely fake. All the people of Gutshot were colorful and endearing.

I listened to the audio version, which I thought was very well done. The narrator did a fantastic job with the voices and the accents, my favorite being an old guy who was missing part of his jaw from cancer. I know a lot of people don't like when audiobook narrators do the voices, but I find that it helps tremendously in signaling which character is speaking and when a narrator does as good job as this one, it can really add to my enjoyment of the story. The only thing I didn't like about the audio was that just as with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, they added the annoying sound effect for phone call conversations.

The story was very sweet and hopeful and a great deal of fun. John Green was co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson which was just fantastic. I've also heard great things about his first novel, Looking for Alaska, which I hope to read sometime soon!

No comments: