Colin Singleton is a child prodigy, convinced that as he ages, he becomes less remarkable with each passing day. While able to converse in eleven different languages and capable of memorising the majority of everything he reads (for hours every day), he’s not really able to adapt the reading into anything new – like a true genius would be able to. He desperately wants to make some sort of significant contribution to the world, even more so after he’s crushed when dumped by his girlfriend on the day of their high school graduation.
Not that he should be unused to being dumped. While Colin is fairly actively unpopular in school, he has nonetheless dated (however briefly) and been dumped by eighteen different girls called Katherine. Katherine 19, his most recent girlfriend, is in fact also Katherine 1, who asked him to be her boyfriend when they were children, and then promptly broke up with him not long after. Since they’d been going out for nearly a year by the time she dumped him again as a teenager (by far his longest relationship), I don’t think Colin should complain. He’s devastated, causing his only friend, Hassan, to decide they need to go on a summer road trip to make Colin happy again. The fact that Hassan is willing to take time out of his busy life slacking off, watching Judge Judy, is clearly a great sacrifice on his part.
The boys end up in the little town of Gutshot, Tennessee, where apparently the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is buried (his body having been bought and brought over in the 1930s). They meet Lindsey Lee Wells (as well has her boyfriend, the Other Colin and his friends) and are hired by her mother, who owns and runs the local factory (where they make tampon strings!) to compile an oral history of Gutshot. She’ll pay them 500 dollars a week as well as room and board. Colin is determined that his great contribution to the world will be The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will successfully predict the future and outcome of any romantic relationship, a mathematical formula worked out based on his history with Katherines 1 through 19. He’s also convinced that if he can just get the theorem to work, he’ll be able to persuade Katherine 19 to take him back. Colin may have an IQ of over 200, but he’s really not very good at figuring out human nature.
Having decided that I needed to read ALL the John Green YA novels after completing Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I decided to start with the one that had the lowest Goodreads rating. I kept waiting for this book to stop exasperating me and entertain me in the way the other John Green books I’d read did. In the end, there was more I liked than disliked, but I’m glad this is a book I borrowed from the library rather than own myself.
Full review here