Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Abundace of Katherines, a review

I've been wanting to read John Green novels since... like a year, but I just could not get hold of him. When I went to Jogja last November, I saw my friend's copy of "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" on her shelf, but of course I could not borrow because she lives in Jogja. When last week I spent a lazy afternoon in Gramedia Grand Indonesia, I came across a John Green's box set, English edition, but what a splurge (box set consisting 4 books, @IDR135000). So since I have nothing much to do at the moment, I decided to Google and download them (Sorry John, but I want you to know that I do support you, I just do not have the money).

My first experience of John Green is not "The Fault in Our Stars", as others would expect. Instead I started on "An Abundance of Katherines", because I found the synopsis about a boy who fall in love and get dumped by 19 Katherines intriguing.

Colin Singleton is a prodigy, as he would so often explain to others about differences between "prodigy" and "genius". He is said to have an IQ above 200, and he was able to read newspapers by the age of 25 months old. While other prodigies excel at math, Colin found himself gifted in linguistic. He speaks 11 languages, and if that is not enough, he can anagram any sentences/phrases/words you throw at him. He does love anagramming. He even anagram "I do love anagramming" to "dragon maggot mania".

Colin's parents work so hard to keep him "normal", admit him in normal school with normal people in normal age. And so Colin grows to be a socially-sufficient young guy, who has friend (just one, though), and falls in love with girls. What makes Colin different, is that he does not fall in love with any girls, he just falls for girls named Katherine. And by the time the story starts, he is just get dumped by Katherine the 19th (or K-XIX, as you'd please). He just moped on his carpet until his friend Hassan took him on a roadtrip. They ended up in Gutshot, Tennessee, while randomly visited Archduke Franz Ferdinand's grave whose corpse started the World War I. They met a nice local girl, with whom they made friends instantly. Her mother even got them jobs and let them stay in her house. And there the story goes about Colin's attempt to overcome his heartbreak. As prodigies would do, he spent his days working on Colin-Katherines Theorem, which he invented based on his previous relationships with Katherines. He hoped someday he'd find the Theorem useful in helping him predict a happy relationship with a Katherine.

I like this book. Although the Colin character is unbearably whiny, he sure displays a prodigy quality (and that is what I like, smart guys). It is amazing to listen to Colin trying to tell a story, because he often rambles and tell extraneous details that interests only him. Like, when he tells you about how he wanted to matter, then he shifted to tell you about the time he first thought about being matter when he wanted to pee in a zoo, and why he wanted to pee is because overhydration, and how 8-glass a day is bullshit since there's really no scientific proof of its benefit, and how people just take things like that for granted because they are incurious, and how incurious is one of those words that sounds like it wouldn't be a word but is.

I am amazed to watch how Colin's brain work. Do you know how he can be so good in studying? He reads a lot, and he memorizes almost any details in every book he has read. Like, when we came across an interesting details in a book, it becomes stuck in our mind. Well, Colin found everything interesting. And he always found a reason why they fascinate him.

And reading this book surely adds me a whole lot of random trivia, like about Franz Ferdinand, and about German word for carpenter is Tischler. Random, right, but I think I can relate to Colin and his interest in random stuff.

If there's one thing I disliked about this book, it is about the math. Proving a Colin-Katherine Theorem includes a lot of math, and I just can't take that loads.

So, I am looking forward for another John Green. Any suggestion on what should I do next? "The Fault in Our Stars"? "Looking for Alaska"? or maybe "Paper Towns"?

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