Murphy’s Law – Guessing the plot of An Abundance of Katherines

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

Coming home from the screening of Paper Towns, Molly and I began discussing John Green’s writing style and the tropes the author (who also wrote The Fault in Our Stars) likes to utilize.

Molly began reading up on his other works on the car ride home and stumbled across one titled An Abundance of Katherines. Before she started reading the synopsis, we decided it would be more fun to guess the plot ourselves. What started out as a fun little exercise on the ride home turned into both of us painstakingly plotting out this fictional version of John Green’s teen drama.

Since we put a lot of effort into this story (and since we haven’t closed a book deal on it yet), I thought it would be fun to share our version of An Abundance of Katherines with you this week. I still have no clue what the actual book is about, but I’m going to assume we nailed it.

An Abundance of Katherines

By Joel Murphy and Molly Regan

The hero of our story is Corey Beignenheimer, a 17-year-old science prodigy from Anytown, Florida. Corey is obsessed with Carl Sagan and his original Cosmos series. He doesn’t like the Neil deGrasse Tyson reboot because he thinks Tyson is too mainstream and he resents that he and fellow scientists have declared Pluto is no longer a planet.

While putting the finishing touches on his science fair project, Corey heads downtown to pick up poster board. For reasons he can’t quite explain, Corey walks past the supply store and into the vintage record shop next door. As he walks into the store, the collection of marbles he always carries in a pouch tied to his belt catch on the door and spill out all over the floor. The marbles roll into the Converse sneakers of Katherine Blandgirl, the misunderstood, yet intriguing and beautiful brunette with a nose ring and a quirky, vintage t-shirt. She bends down and picks up the marble brushing against her shoe.

“Lose your marbles?” she quips.

“All the greats do eventually,” he responds.

The two hit it off and he eventually works up the courage to ask her to come with him to an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town where you can see Pluto through a telescope. She agrees. Katherine uses a hairpin to pick the lock of the abandoned building.

On their date, he waxes poetic about Pluto and how he believes in its potential to become a planet again. (“We spend our whole lives being told what we can’t be and its in buying into that myth that we limit our true potential. Pluto was a planet and it can be again. We all can.”)

This impassioned speech impresses Katherine, who cuts him off mid-sentence to plant a kiss on him. As they start to leave, Katherine stops and says she wants to go back to explore the building more. Corey tells her not to go, but with a smile, she says, “The universe will bring me back to you.”

She walks back inside the building. It collapses, killing her instantly.

Corey spends the next several weeks mourning her death. He starts ignoring his obligations, including the science fair. First place, and the prize money that goes with it (which Corey needed to pay for college), go to his rival Trever Fuchboi.

Corey eventually drags himself out of bed. He heads to the last place he saw Katherine alive, the abandoned building where they shared their first kiss. Tears streaming down his face, Corey says, “You promised the universe would bring you back to me. You have to keep your word.”

Just then, a gust of wind picks up a lock of Katherine’s hair and drops it at Corey’s feet. He grabs the hair and takes it back home.

Corey decides it’s up to him to bring her back. He locks himself in his room building a cloning machine. He recruits his nerdy, lovable best friend Khalil, an amateur magician, to distract the guard at a local fertility clinic. Then, using the breaking and entering skills Katherine taught him at the abandoned warehouse, Corey steals six embryos that he plans to imprint Katherine’s DNA onto.

Assuming the odds are slim that even one embryo will make it, he grows all six of them at once. All six of them survive.

Using science, he accelerates their growth so that they are all 17 once again. They all have Katherine’s memories implanted in their brains. Corey could not be more delighted.

With the spring formal just days away, Corey is hoping one of the Katherines will go with him. He devises the perfect date, figuring he has six chances to get it right. Calamity ensues. All six dates go so badly that he never gets to ask a Katherine to the dance.

The Katherines pull Corey aside and explain that he’s holding onto an idealized version of Katherine that no longer exists. He has to let them go so they can grown into the Katherines they are all meant to be. In the same way that Pluto is no longer a planet, they are no longer his Katherine. But Corey refuses to give up hope. One day, he believes the universe will bring his Katherine back to him. He gives them each a marble from his pouch as a memento. They head off to Bar Harbor, Maine to start a commune together.

Corey heads back home. He forgoes his plans to head off to college to instead take care of his ailing mother, who is suffering from a severe as-yet-unrevealed case of Parkinson’s disease.


Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at

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