An Abundance of Katherines : Love the name or the person?

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“An Abundance of Katherines” a unique novel by John Green intrigues us with the one line idea of its plot : Is it possible to determine the future of a relationship? This is novel holds your attention and makes you laugh at the same time. It deals with an odd situation. It traces the journey of its protagonist Colin Singleton who is absolutely certain of deducing a mathematical theorem, which he hopes will be able to predict the ultimate outcome of any relationship. It is yet another young adult novel by John Green, who has by now mastered this genre. Apparently, an appendix explaining some of the more complex situations Colin uses throughout the story was written by Daniel Bliss, a close friend to Green.


When it comes to relationships every individual has a particular specific kind. Everybody has a preference. For Colin, it’s the mere name, Katherine. In his entire lifetime he had only dated Katherines. Nineteen of them. The story begins at the juncture when he gets dumped by his recent girlfriend, Katherine XIX. The most striking part in all of his relationships being, he could only remember the part when he got dumped by them. Our protagonist wishes to have a moment of great achievement by accomplishing his goal : His mission to formulate a logical explanation for the way the course of a relationship turns out to be.

“Fully fun, challengingly complex and entirely entertaining” aptly described by Kirkus, Starred Review, this novel proceeds with Colin and his best friend going out on a road trip just after graduating from high school. They travel all the way from Chicago to Tennesse and they come across the alleged resting place of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Over there they Colin and Hassan are hired by Lindsey Lee Wells mother, Hollis, the woman running a factory which is at present manufacturing tampon strings. The work she assigns to them is to run a survey with all the adult residents of Gutshot and gather a oral history of the town.

With the passage of time Colin finds himself attracted towards Lindsey, though matters are more complicated by her on and off boyfriend, whose name also, ironically enough, is Colin. Green plays a master stroke by making his love interest’s other admirer, his namesake. Hassan calls him TOC, “The Other Colin”. We can see our protagonist, determined to reach his Eureka moment. He attempts to achieve his goal through this theorem that he had formed, called Theorem of Underlying Kathering Probability, which is meant to tell before time the future of any relationship. His theory works for all but one of his past relationships. But the graphs make perfect sense at this juncture.

In the mean time we find Colin’s friend Hassan indulging in an affair with Katrina, who happens to be Lidsey’s friend. The relationship abruptly comes to an end when Colin and Hassan go on a feral hog hunt with Lindsey, her friend and Colin’s father, end up chased into the wilderness by hornets. Upon reaching back to the civilization,, they catch Katrina indulging in a sexual intercourse with TOC in the graveyard. A huge fight breaks out between TOC and all of Lindseys acquaintances when they find out she was cheating on her. Amidst all this mayhem, Colin suddenly anagrams the Archdukes name, and realizes it is actually Fred.N. Dinzafar, Lindseys grandfather, who had been buried in the tomb. Colin finally finds Lindsey in her secret hideout and they begin talking, as if as a means of escaping from the chaos outside. Colin tells her about his Katherine theory and she tells him how self-centered she feels , confessing that instead of feeling sad she is quite relieved by the discovery of TOC’s affair. They profess their love to each other.

Towards the end of the novel we find that Colin finally realizes the futility of his theorem and the inability for anyone to predict the future of any relationship. Hassan states that he will be applying to college’s for further studies, something Colin has tried to convince him for, throughout the novel. The story ends with the three of them driving by, when Lindsey says that she wished they could just “keep going and not stop”. Colin suddenly goes through an epiphanic moment where he experiences a sort of connection with Lindsey, Hassan and every unknown person as well. He finally finds peace and happiness , not by determining a means to tell the future of a relationship but via the feeling of being connected with other people, rather than the want of being someone different. He expresses this as feeling “non-unique in the best way possible.”


John Green sticks to the genre in which he excels. The young adult novels, which have become his forte now, and creates this brilliantly built story with a layered plot.  “Laugh-out-loud funny, this second novel by the author of Printz winner Looking for Alaska charts a singular coming-of-age American road trip that is at once a satire of and a tribute to its many celebrated professors,” as per the Horn Book, Starred Review.The book has a rare touch of realism which talks about oblivion and its fears that most of us face, but are unable to come to terms with. John Green has mentioned in 2007 that the rights to turn this into a movie had been bought, but the project had been abandoned. A different company, apparently, has now secured the rights with a hopeful future.