There’s a saying out there somewhere which describes the intense odor of fail that so often emanates from the unturned pages of authors’ first novels.
However, since I can’t seem to produce that actual quote, I’ll just assume that I made that up and this is all just based on my own opinion.
Nevertheless, debut novels (whether they get thrown out or actually published) usually don’t measure up to the quality of work put out by authors later on in their careers. And as I was under the impression that An Abundance of Katherines was John Green’s debut novel, I was ready to write it off as a sloppy yet decent first try. Turns out his real first novel, Looking for Alaska, was pretty successful and I actually just finished reading his second (and clearly less successful) book.
Well that doesn’t fit the formula.
But, while I can’t tell you why the quality of his work seems to have declined during his career, I can explain to you a formula which is intended to predict the outcome of your romantic relationships. Yes, the main character of this book spent much time obsessing over creating this formula…also math…and anagrams…and his unfulfilled genius…and girls named Katherine.
He also enjoyed engaging in what I believe was very unrealistic dialogue and overly cliché post-break up behavior. After being dumped by his 19th Katherine, Colin (main character) and Hassan (trusty sidekick, AKA “Daddy”) embark on a road trip that spans about .0034% of the book, after which the plot becomes increasingly predictable.
As an unpublished and still-learning writer, I really have no room to give this criticism. Maybe the incessant footnotes, factual tangents, anagrams, math, and constant use of the fake word “fug” are supposed to be reflections of the boy’s genius (did I mention he’s an alleged child prodigy?). I have no idea. But as a reader, I found these factors majorly unappealing.
What I found interesting (but still not that appealing) is that the main character Colin is really just John Green. For those of you who are familiar with Green’s personality (either because you’ve met him or are a member of his immense Nerdfighter following), you’ll know that he often goes off on factual tangents himself and is an all-around smart guy. I think that’s why I was so disappointed by this book.
John Green comes off as this very intelligent and witty guy, so I expected a very complex and well thought out story line that would challenge me as a reader. What I got was basically like one of his YouTube videos. Seen it. I need something new.
I wanted to like this book. I did. Katherines honestly had the potential to be like one of those quirky indie comedies that always casts Michael Cera as the lead role, but it fell short for me. Though I’m giving this novel a thumbs down, I do promise to revisit Green’s work later on so I can better evaluate his work through the more successful of his novels.
This past week, LifeAccordinglee hit 200 followers. I just want to thank you guys so much for reading my posts and sticking with me through this journey. It’s been a rough few weeks of change for my blog, and I want to let you all know how much I truly appreciate your constant support. I’d have no reason to write if I didn’t have readers, so you guys mean the world to me. I hope you all are learning about yourselves along the way, because I’ve learned so much about myself since starting this blog. I feel so lucky to have so much support for my passion. With your guys’ help, I know it will continue to grow. Thanks!