From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Printz medalist John Green's main character in this novel (Dutton, 2006) is a loner who has a hard time making friends (though no trouble finding girlfriends) and a quirky taste for anagrams and odd facts. At the end of his senior year of high school, Colin Singleton has just been dumped by a girl named Katherine (it's the 19th time he's been dumped). Stuck in a quagmire of indecision about his future and egged on by his friend Hassan, Colin sets out on an aimless road trip until his attention is caught by a sign for the burial place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the middle of rural Tennessee. Colin and Hassan find friends, jobs, and fulfill Colin's quest to understand why he is always being dumped by his girlfriends. He develops a mathematical theorem that focuses on predicting the outcome of romantic relationships. Along the way, there is plenty of humor in the story. Narrator Jeff Woodman creates a distinct and lively persona for each character, complete with accents and inflections. Colin's uniquely naïve attributes combine with his obvious intelligence and checkered romantic past to create a character that Woodman brings to life quite vividly. The math angle and humorous anagrams may create additional interest for some teens. Although the story line is a bit thin, the plot's identity concerns make this an interesting choice for high school and public library collections for older teens.–Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY
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Gr. 9-12. Green follows his Printz-winning Looking for Alaska
(2005) with another sharp, intelligent story, this one full of mathematical problems, historical references, word puzzles, and footnotes. Colin Singleton believes he is a washed-up child prodigy. A graduating valedictorian with a talent for creating anagrams, he fears he'll never do
anything to classify him as a genius. To make matters worse, he has just been dumped by his most recent girlfriend (all of them have been named Katherine), and he's inconsolable. What better time for a road trip! He and his buddy Hassan load up the gray Olds (Satan's Hearse) and leave Chicago. They make it as far as Gutshot, Tennessee, where they stop to tour the gravesite of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and meet a girl who isn't named Katherine. It's this girl, Lindsey, who helps Colin work on a mathematical theorem to predict the duration of romantic relationships. The laugh-out-loud humor ranges from delightfully sophomoric to subtly intellectual, and the boys' sarcastic repartee will help readers navigate the slower parts of the story, which involve local history interviews. The idea behind the book is that everyone's story counts, and what Colin's contributes to the world, no matter how small it may seem to him, will, indeed, matter. An appendix explaining the complex math is "fantastic," or as the anagrammatically inclined Green might have it, it's enough to make "cats faint." Cindy DobrezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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