Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teen Spy Review: An Abundance of Katherines and Call for First Pages!

Today, one of our teen spies, Lissa, is back with an amazing review of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

Lissa's Review: If you were to read all of John Green’s books in a row, it’d probably be a tedious journey. Don’t get me wrong, because I adore JG and Nerdfighteria and all, but it really is no secret that his “thing” is writing about not-so-popular, yet very privileged, intelligent teenagers, and the extraordinary people with whom they fall in love. Of course, each of his books are based on different concepts and are each exceptional and important in their own ways, but his voice is definitely one of the most distinctive in all of YA. What’s unique about An Abundance of Katherines though, aside from the, count it, NINETEEN Katherines the MC has dated, is the very comical tone in which an incredibly introspective story is set in, and yes, well, the “road trip”.

Eighteen year old Colin Singleton is a child prodigy who hopes to, in the near future, find his place amongst the rare adult geniuses of the world. He’s just been dumped by Katherine the Nineteenth when his best friend Hassan suggests a road trip to clear his head. After what I swear is the shortest written road trip ever, the two end up in Gutshot, Tennessee where they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and are employed to uncover the life stories of the citizens of the small town. Colin, meanwhile, has a plan to qualify for Professional Geniusy and to get back Katherine XIX: prove the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability - which predicts the outcome of a relationship - works.

I’ll be honest with you: this book didn’t start off promising. Colin isn’t an easily liked character - he’s selfish, over-analytical, self-absorbed, and often indelicate – but once you settle yourself into his head and understand the way it works and why everything’s being constantly footnoted, everything becomes fun to read. The rest of the cast was incredibly well-developed; each character felt real with their aspirations and tendencies so honest to being a teenager. The relationships between characters were instantly realistic to me, and I thought that the way adults unintentionally exploited Colin’s prodigious nature was extremely truthful and carefully written. The one-liners were high-larious, too, and I actually found myself laughing at the kind of guy-humour I typically despise.

A popular theme in many of Green's books considers the notion of universally mattering. This theme, amongst a few others, was thoroughly explored in Katherines, but took a backseat to the romantic/comedic feel of the book, which I liked. If you’re looking for a light beach read, I’d definitely suggest this book, though I think its biggest flaw were the never-ending coincidences that, granted, are common in rom-coms, but were still incredibly annoying. An Abundance of Katherines is in no way Green’s strongest novel, but I like the direction he took in exploring the options available in writing contemporaries, and the almost mathematical preciseness he took with each metaphor he incorporated.

Would I suggest Katherines? Yes, I would. It took me three tries to finish the book, but I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s one of the funniest and touching reads I’ve experienced in a long time, and while it sure isn’t my favourite JG book, it’s still a pretty great one.

Thanks, Lissa for this honest, insightful, and amazing review! This math and JG fangirl LOVED AAoK! If you haven't read this John Green phenom, I hope you'll add it to your list. SOON.

Lissa is one of our SPIES (click here to see their awesomeness!) and every month, these awesome, sleuthy teen SPIES critique a first page of one lucky submitter's manuscript! Authentic feedback from real teen readers? Who's in?!

If you want a chance to have your first page critiqued by our SPIES, send the first page of your YA novel to YAConfidential@gmail.com and one submitter will be randomly chosen to have their page critiqued on the blog by our teen spies! They'll reveal what they liked, what they didn't, and whether or not they'd keep reading! 

Deadline for page submission: August 28!

If you've submitted in previous months, but haven't been selected, feel free to submit again! And thanks again to Lissa for an incredibly awesome review!


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