An Abundance of Katherines by John Green was a Printz Honor Book for 2007. I listened to this on audio and while at first I didn’t like the narrator, by the end of the book I felt he did a fine job.
First, the positives. This story was intelligent and funny and I laughed out loud several times. I loved all the math in the book (engineering geek that I am), and I wish I could have seen the equations on the actual pages instead of hearing them read. In fact, I would have gotten the book from my library for this purpose in addition to the audio, but it was already checked out. I will still probably do that at some point. I also liked the characters. Just like the book itself, they were intelligent and funny. And lastly, John Green is a good writer.
But….the content. The content, the content, the content. There is a lot of language. There are also a lot of substitutions for a certain word with ‘fug’ instead. An interesting sidenote is that apparently Norman Mailer was the inventor of this word. I’m no stranger to these substitutions, I thought it was kind of funny in Battlestar Galactica (frakkin Cyclons), but is it really appropriate in a young adult book? Do I think teenagers not use these words? No, I know they do. Did I read books as a teenager that used these words? Yes, I did. But, I sneaked them. Books that had ‘content’ were discouraged in my day, not encouraged. Now, any and all language and s*x is fine in teen books and even lauded. There is also a s*x scene described in Green’s book that I found very inappropriate. Do I not know that some teens have s*x? No, of course I do. Did I not read Forever and Wifey in high school? Yes, of course I did. But again, it was not encouraged by my parents and librarians.
If you’re still reading this far and have not given up in disgust by my old-fashioned ways, I will say it again: I thought An Abundance of Katherines was intelligent, funny, and well-written. I just won’t be handing it over to my two teenage sons to read. If it weren’t for the content, I would be giving this book a 4.5 rating, but as it is, it gets a 3.5 rating instead. (Ducks head anticipating the bashing I will receive.)
2006, 256 pp.