An Abundance of Footnotes

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I finally finished reading An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green, besides the math appendix, which I will read. I just fell asleep before I did. But I will.

This YA novel is an achievement the likes of which I have never before read, in or out of YA lit. The work that went into this book . . . it boggles the mind. I can only imagine the behemoth effort it must have been, even for a lifelong nerd like Mr. Green, to work not only with math, an obvious enemy to English majors the world over, but with obsessive palindroming, several languages, plot intricacies so deep and unexpected . . . Mr. Green either had to go back and fit these pieces together as they occurred to him, thereby requiring draft after draft and revision after revision and research upon research, or else he is a man who should play a lot of chess, seeing dozens of moves ahead when most of us struggle to see two.

The story itself, though a bit contrived (it would have to be to let the pieces Mr. Green built fit so seamlessly together), is delightful, and the voice is unexpected in YA, kind of an intelligent and American Arthur Dent. But most impressive is the utmost respect the book has for its readers.

I hope I develop some of the traits he's already mastered. Now I'm on to Looking for Alaska, I think.