Thursday, November 30, 2006

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

John Green does it again. In his follow-up to the Printz winner Looking for Alaska, Green creates another cast of characters we'd love to know better.

Colin Singleton is a prodigy. Not a genius, just a prodigy. And now that he's eighteen and graduated from high school, his prodigy status has expired - and Colin's certain he'll never make it to genius.

When Colin's girlfriend - Kathrine XIX (the 19th in an amazing line of Katherines he has dated) dumps him, Colin's best friend Hassan convinces him to take a road trip. In Gutshot Tennessee, Colin and Hassan discover the grave of an Austrian archduke and the Theory of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which Colin thinks will prevent future heartbreak by all women named Katherine.

Is Colin a dumpee, or is he really a dumper at heart? Will he ever make "genius" - will he ever really matter? And what's with all the Katherines, anyway?

Not all teens will appreciate John Green's hilarious novel - some might find Colin just as annoying as his classmates do. Other's will see themselves in Colin's social ineptitude and his unluckiness in love. As with Looking for Alaska, Green has created a truly clever cast of characters and a truly clever book. Instead of Pudge's last words, this time he gives us Colin's anagrams, and, of course, his Theory of Underlying Katherine Predictability - complete with footnotes and a mathematical explanation of the formula (written by a real mathematician - see Appendix A).

What I'm Reading: Far From Normal by Kate Klise

On My Bookshelf: Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer

My Lost and Found Life by Melodie Bowsher

Ashley Mitchell is a character many teens will love to hate. Rich, popular, beautiful and snobby, Ashley is just the type of girl we like to see get what she deserves. And in My Lost and Found Life, it seems like she does.
Ashley's mom has always made sure Ashley had everything she wanted. Being a single mom might be tough, but Ashley doesn't have to think about her mom's life -she's too busy thinking of herself. So when her mom tells her things will have to change - their expensive lifestyle has to stop - Ashley doesn't want to hear it.
But the next morning Ashley's mother is gone. It seems the expensive lifestyle they've been living is thanks to her mom's theft - her mother has been stealing money from work for years. Now she's taken off with a million dollars, and left Ashley alone.
Living in a trailer behind a gas station, working in a coffee shop and struggling to make ends meet, Ashley's former life seems pretty far away. But the toughest part for Ashley isn't her living conditions or her money problems. It's wondering what happened to her mother. Ashley just can't believe her mom left her behind, and Ashley can't forgive herself for the terrible things she said to her mother the last time they spoke.
Ashley's growth as a character is admirable; her self-centered personality transforms into a self-confidence that serves her well as she has to make her own way in the world. Bowsher's writing is occasionally stilted, and she tends to "tell" things rather than "show" them, but she turns Ashley from a unlikable snob into an strong young woman. Despite the rough spots, Ashley's story is definitely enough to keep you reading.

What I'm Reading: Kathy Reich's Deadly Decisions
On My Bookshelf: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green