Some people have a certain type, such as tall blondes or mysterious brunettes, but Colin Singleton’s type consists solely of girls named Katherine. At the young age of 17, Colin has already dated, and been dumped by, nineteen Katherines. In the aftermath of his most recent relationship with Katherine the 19th, Colin and his best friend Hassan decide to embark on a soul searching road trip. While driving through Tennessee, they come across a town called Gutshot that claims to be the resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose death sparked the beginning of World War I. They soon become acquainted with Lindsay Lee Wells and her mother Hollis who offers them work in the town’s factory that produces tampon strings. During their stay in Gutshot, Colin struggles to make sense of life and perfect his theorem for predicting the fate of relationships. Colin has to learn the hard way that not everything is predictable or necessarily makes sense, especially when he falls for his first Lindsay.
After nineteen in a row, Colin Singleton only seems to date girls named Katherine. After being dumped by each and everyone, Colin sets out on a road trip to heal and make sense of the world, only to find that not everything makes sense.
The main character, Colin, would probably be considered a bit of a nerd. He is a wealth of what most would consider useless information, a whiz at anagrams, and in order to explain his failures with romance and hopefully predict the future, he works to develop a theorem to discern the fate of a relationship between two people. The book is a fun-filled story with many laugh-out loud moments and interesting epiphanies for both the characters and the reader. I personally had a hard time with the overuse of the word “fug” or “fugging” as a replacement for the more controversial “f-word.” I couldn’t understand that if the author would allow this word to be used so frequently, why not just use the more vulgar version? The vulgar version probably wouldn’t have bothered me or stood out so much. Thankfully, later on in the book, the author explains through the voices of the characters their reasoning for using the word “fug” when they get called out on not just using the intended vulgarity, just as I had wished to do as the reader.
In 2007, Green and his brother Hank ceased textual communication and began to talk primarily through videoblogs posted to youtube. The videos spawned a community of people called nerdfighters who fight for intellectualism and to decrease the overall worldwide level of suck. (Decreasing suck takes many forms: Nerdfighters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty in the developing world; they also planted thousands of trees around the world in May of 2010 to celebrate Hank’s 30th birthday.) Although they have long since resumed textual communication, John and Hank continue to upload three videos a week to their youtube channel, vlogbrothers. Their videos have been viewed more than 75 million times, and their channel is one of the most popular in the history of online video. He is also an active (if reluctant) Twitter user with more than 1.1 million followers.
Green’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Booklist, a wonderful book review journal where he worked as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska. Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.
From the author’s website.
Realistic Fiction, Nerd Lit
Discuss what Hollis has done for the town through the factory. Do you agree or disagree with her course of action?
Reading Level/ Interest Age
- Foul language.
- Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
- Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
- Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
- Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.
- The overuse of “fugging” is explained later in the book. Be aware of the justification for using that word.
I have seen some of John Green’s Nerdfighter videos on Youtube and was happy to have found a picture that included one of my favorite quotes from one of his videos to include as his author photo. After seeing his rather clever and adorable videos, I was eager to check out his contributions to young adult literature.