Meet Colin Singleton, a child prodigy, now seventeen years old, mostly friendless, totally into anagramming things and – get this – recovering from his 19th breakup by a Katherine. That’s right, Colin has an inexplicable thing for the Katherine’s, and they don’t seem to have a long lasting thing for him. Colin is consumed by fear and worry that he will never matter in life, never go on to do anything impressive. He is incredibly smart now, but Colin knows that there is a difference between a prodigy and a genius, and this is something that is never going to change, no matter how much he wants it too. Colin’s best friend Hassan Harbis, a fat, lazy Muslim, attempts to help Colin get over his latest Katherine (again), and decides the best thing to do would be to go on a roadtrip.
Just like that the boys are packed up and trekking across the country, set for an adventure. The whim becomes more serious when Colin slips further into a depression over Katherine, and Hassan is having home withdrawals and for once in his life wants to have an adventure. Hassan is usually glued to the couch and watching copious amounts of Judge Judy. Their trip becomes more settled when they arrive in Gutshot, Tennessee, to visit the tomb of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Still lamenting over Katherine, Colin and Hassan meet Lindsey Lee Wells, a young paramedic in training, who Colin makes assumptions about and soon learns that they are wrong. The more he learns about her, the more he wonders. Lindsey, on the other hand, is dating a Colin, too, whom Hassan and Colin take to calling The Other Colin, or TOC. After an accident on the way to the tomb, Colin and Hassan meet Hollis, Lindsey’s mother, who is immediately taken with Colin, whom she recognizes from the television show Kranial Kidz that he won as a child.
Hollis invites the boys to stay and commissions them to do some work for her and pay them $500-00 a week. She runs the local factory in town, too. Hassan and Colin comply. Their roadtrip finally starts to mean something, and they move in with Hollis and Lindsey in their Pink Mansion while they are staying in Gutshot. TOC seems to be a bit of a tool, and Lindsey seems to have a million different personalities, a different one for each and every lot of people that she is around. This confuses Colin, who finally hits on his “eureka” moment when he is sure that he can mathematically predict the curve of any relationship, and shockingly receives a lot of assistance from Lindsey, who seems to be rather taken with him. Colin is learning much about himself while on his trip, and Lindsey is making some discoveries of her own. TOC treats her pretty badly, and she seems to be taking it, though neither of the boys can understand why. She also does not understand Colin’s incessant need to be noticed and to matter. It seems Hassan, too, is catching up with the world and starts seeing Katrina, Lindsey’s friend.
Why does Lindsey put up with so much from Colin? What changed about her? Will Colin’s “eureka” moment pan out into something? Could this be the something that makes him, that defines him, moves him into the spotlight? Will Hassan ever be less lazy and more motivated to do something with his life? Has Colin finally made a new friend in Lindsey? Will he start seeing girls that do not share the same nine letters of a name?
This was a quick and engaging read, nothing too heavy (even when the math comes up, you can skip it or read it, not really central to the story if you don’t understand it). I like Hassan, and the friendship between him and Colin is amusing. Colin, on the other hand, is pretty cool. There are moments where he is a total annoyance, and one can understand how someone would get annoyed with him. He is smart but he is also selfish and exceptionally insecure. Hassan is extremely entertaining though incredibly lazy. I enjoyed how they were just journeying across America and stumbled upon something that could be great for them. It was cool to watch how the boys became more focused and learned more about themselves than they ever knew. I appreciate John Green’s writing style, though this definitely took me longer to get into than The Fault In Our Stars, but it was nevertheless entertaining. I like the way he took something that could have been bland and boring (I mean really, more teenage breakups?!) and just gave it more flesh and what not. The concept was a standard one but definitely with more of a twist to it. Green is a phenomenally good young adult writer, who writes in a way that you can enjoy his work no matter what age you are, which is something to respect. I am definitely going to be checking out the rest of his books, he is fun.