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Colin Singleton has two problems that have left him face-down on the carpet with a feeling that his stomach has been ripped out, unable to even flush his own puke. He has graduated from high school without a eureka moment that would take him from child prodigy to actual genius and he has been dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine. All of his nineteen girlfriends have been named Katherine – not Katrina, not Kathy, not Katie, not Trina – K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E. And all nineteen have dumped him. Lying on the floor, he tries to explain the problems to his best and only friend Hassan. (From page 10) “The Problem itself was that he didn’t matter. Colin Singleton, noted child prodigy, noted veteran of Katherine Conflicts, noted nerd and sitzpinkler, didn’t matter to Katherine XIX, and he didn’t matter to the world. All of a sudden, he wasn’t anyone’s boyfriend or anyone’s genius. And that – to use the kind of complex word you’d expect from a prodigy – blew.” To Hassan, the solution is simple: a road trip. And so the pair ends up in a town called Gutshot, with the lovely Lindsey Lee Wells, a pink mansion, the grave of the archduke Franz Ferdinand, a feral pig, a secret cave hideout, and Colin determined to prove the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.
Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!
- How do the other characters highlight Colin’s strengths and weaknesses? For instance, Lindsey says she is also self-involved, and both Lindsey and Hassan have no ambition to be famous or significant.
- How does the scene at the Memphis warehouse fit in with the rest of the book? What does it do to move the plot forward?
- What do you think of Colin’s theory that relationships are inherently predictable? Are they?
- Throughout the book, Colin worries about mattering, about being important, but in the last chapter he feels “not unique in the best possible way.” What helped him change his mind? What do you think will happen to Colin after the end of the book?
- Does the humor in the book work for you? How does it add to or detract from the story?
- Try anagramming your name at http://wordsmith.org/anagram/. Come up with anything good? Colin Singleton comes out as stenciling loon and colon listening, among other things.
- Lindsey Lee Wells makes herself popular to get revenge on her childhood tormentor. Do you think that’s possible? How does that affect her outcome in the formula?
- What makes Colin and Lindsey a better match than Colin and Katherine?
If you liked this book, try
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
- The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
- As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway
- Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.