Oct 27, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines

John Green, An Abundance of Katherines, 2006, Puffin.

After Colin is dumped by his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine, he suffers an identity crisis of sorts. If he is destined to forever be the Dumpee, he believes it must reveal some larger truth about who Colin (a child prodigy) will turn out to be: a failure. After all, he has never had his 'Eureka' moment, the one which would signal the advent of his genius. The only solution to this identity crisis is to take a road trip which leads him and his best friend Hassan to the tiny town of Gutshot, Tennessee. In Gutshot Colin and Hassan find Colin's 'Eureka' moment, a factory that makes tampon strings, and a girl named Lindsey all which share an interesting story.

I couldn't tell if this book was purposely trying to be cool or not. I definitely didn't get a hipster vibe from the tone of the characters, unsurprisingly because both Colin and Hassan are slightly socially inept: still you get the sense deep down that Green was trying to work the nerd chic angle here. He couldn't make his characters without a shred of hope, otherwise even nerdy kids wouldn't want to read it. It is certainly interesting to see the balance the characters strike between nerdyness without hope and nerdyness that promises to become more.

On the other hand, Colin's constant thought and conversation tangents were half amusing, half down right annoying. However I must stress this one thing. I did not believe for ONE minute that the kids in Gutshot would let Lindsey go from freak of the week to a member of the in-crowd. I'm from a small town myself and sorry John Green but that just does not happen. Ever. Furthermore Lindsey was your stereotypical nerd boys wet dream: a hot girl who used to be nerdy once upon a time and secretly has a thing for skinny nerd boys like Colin. Why is it that in teen movies and books the nerdy girl has to be a "hot" nerdy girl? Can't she ever just be plain or so-so, or unconventionally beautiful? I felt like it sent a message that its okay to embrace your nerdyness if you're female, but only if you're pretty too. Ugh.

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