An Abundance of Katherines



Comic slacker-geek lit is fun for the right teen.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

These is lots of intellectual play in this novel, and the appendix includes an explanation of the math behind  The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.

Positive messages

Colin deals with the anxieties and fears that most young adults face as they embark on the greatest adventure of their lives-- adulthood. 

Positive role models

Even teens who don't relate to Colin's feelings of being a failed prodigy will understand anxieties about growing up and his quest for a "Eureka" moment.


A rather nasty fistfight.


None described, but some hinted at; references to orgasm and oral sex, making out.


Plenty of four-letter words, various euphemisms for the male organ.


Fast food restaurants, Nicorette.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beer drinking, chewing tobacco.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this quirky novel contains some mature content, such as swearing and references to sex, orgasms, and oral sex. While less graphic than many young adult books, the book has some mature themes, including the reality of teens facing their anxieties and fears as they grow up.

What's the story?

Colin is a former child prodigy who has just graduated from high school as valedictorian -- and just been dumped by the 19th girl he has dated named Katherine (well, eighteenth really, one of them dumped him twice). He is in a deep funk, worried that all of his early promise will add up to nothing, and that his talents, for absorbing knowledge, working hard, languages, trivia, and anagrams, aren't really of any use in the real world. When his best friend, Hassan, a genial if lazy lout, decides Colin needs a road trip, they soon wash up in Gutshot, Tennessee where they get a job recording oral histories from the town's residents. While there Colin works on what he sees as his last shot at mattering: a mathematical formula to predict the course of romantic relationships, The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.

Is it any good?


This delightful exercise in geek-chic hums along on the strength of three central characters who haven't only failed to live up to their potential but also have no clue what their potential is. There's no real plot to speak of, no action except for one fight, and reading it assumes at least a tolerance of, if not interest in, the things that interest Colin -- and the author. And even fans may be disappointed by the flat-footed finale, in which Colin's rather obvious and trite revelations and epiphanies are expounded at too-great length. Ultimately, though, bright kids who like intriguing characters and intellectual play will find this book lots of fun. And all teens will certainly relate to the anxieties and fears of these young adults about to embark on the greatest adventure of their lives -- adulthood.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about road trip stories. Can you think of any other books -- or even movies -- that feature teens or young adults hitting the road in search of themselves? Why do these stories resonate well with Americans? Why do they make for good stories?

Book details

Author:John Green
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Children's Books
Publication date:September 1, 2006
Number of pages:228
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old June 7, 2009


An Abundance of Katherines had a good story line I guess, but was pretty boring. I couldn't really stay with it at some parts.
Teen, 15 years old Written byhollylujah December 27, 2010

Totally Awesome.

I love John Green and everything he writes is pure genious. That doesn't differ in "An Abundance of Katherines." It not only has a variety of languages and math, due to the fact the the main characters are pretty intellegent, but also features wit and humor in this amazing story.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written by1angelette April 7, 2009

Intellectual Tour-de-force for Mature Teens

Colin -- oh, narcissistic, relatable, somehow-dated-nineteen-girls-to-my-mother's-chagrin Colin. He manages to churn out an equation which actually works (no lie, I tried it twice), has an awesome Arab friend (how is that bad for the message? discrimination, CSM), and knows a lot of the same obscure, awesome stuff I do, only more of it. For a teenager who can take the profanity (for there's lots) and raciness (there's even more of that) without giggling and appreciate the crowning, glorious apothesis of Katherine the Great midway through the book (not to mention anagrams), you'll pick this up and love it to death in one delicious afternoon like I did.


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