I really enjoyed this coming of age novel, almost entirely due to the quirky characters.
Colin is a child prodigy, but doesn’t know what to do with himself when he graduates from high school without making the transition from prodigy to genius. Sure, he’s heading off to college, but he firmly believes his best days are behind him.
He’s spent long hours refining his mental skills, not so many on the social ones. This doesn’t stop him from finding 19 girlfriends named Katherine (starting when he was 8). It does come in to play with his being dumped by each of them.
Colin has one good friend, Hassan. Hassan has been drifting since he graduated a year ago. He determines what both boys need is a road trip, setting in motion a journey in self discovery for both.
The physical journey ends in a small town, where they find a summer job and a new friend named Lindsey, who is also working on finding her way.
Lindsey was an outcast when she was younger, but she put her brain power to work figuring out what she needed to do to be popular. It worked, and now she’s dating the town’s It Guy, and is at the center of the small town’s social scene.
Although math isn’t Colin’s strength, he decides to make one last stab at migrating from a prodigy (who can learn anything that he is taught) to a genius (who can create new ideas). He’s going to create an equation to model the length of a relationship based on whether the two people involved are dumpers or dumpees. After all, he’s got 19 data points to work with.
I identified with each of the three characters in some way– Colin with his struggle with turning his smarts into something useful; Hassan and his inertia; Lindsey and her feeling that no one really knows who she is. I suspect most readers will find something to identify with.
This book is clearly a YA book, written for teens, and yet, I think I appreciated it much more now than I would have then. Even younger teens will enjoy the road trip adventure/quirky character story (there is one scene that would keep me from recommending it to my 12 year old daughter, although I wouldn’t object to her reading it). I’d recommend this book for older teens and adults that want to think about what it means to grow up.
Production: A competent production. No highlights, no problems.
Audio vs. Paper: I’d been meaning to read something else by John Green since reading Looking For Alaska for book club about a year ago, but hadn’t gotten around to it. When I saw this book as part of an Audible.com sale, I jumped on it. I’m glad I did, since I’m not sure when I would have gotten around to reading a paper book. However, I don’t think there is anything about this book or production that makes it better in print or as audio. Go with your preference.