Turtles All The Way Down by John Green #BookReview

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‘It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.’

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

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I was very excited to read my first John Green novel and I thought I was going to love it since I really like YA mystery and the mental health issue also sounded quite interesting but I’m afraid I didn’t fall in love with the plot nor the characters.

A lot of it is probably due to never having felt a real connection with Aza, the person this whole novel is actually about. She’s not a very remarkable character except for what makes her different: she suffers from obsessive thinking. I think it’s great that this condition is brought under our attention but it was quite hard to understand and often sympathise with Aza. I did make some progress towards the end of the novel in regards to knowing how she is as a person and what the consequences are for her but it still wasn’t easy to grasp. I know novels are sometimes too rosy-colored and they often make problems go away or mental illnesses resolve themselves and I don’t like that but I would have preferred to see some progression, something to be really happy about for Aza. The only people evolving are her friends and the reader and she seemed to remain at a standstill. Maybe that’s the whole point of the novel too but even so, she could have showed perhaps a bit more how to deal with it properly and how to live her life happily instead of only highlighting the problems. This way it was definitely not a good news show.

Unfortunately the mystery part of the missing billionnaire was also only a small section of the novel. It really wasn’t what the novel was about and wasn’t followed through. I believe it was just a way to get in touch with Davis as there wasn’t happening much with the plotline. As for Davis himself, I quite often felt sorry for him and his little brother. The spiralling thoughts Aza is having also impact her personal life and relationships and the poor guy is of course caught in the middle when he tries to connect with her.

Turtles All The Way Down was sometimes a YA story and sometimes almost lyrically philosophical. There are plenty of wonderful one-liners that really spoke to me and make you want to get into a highlighting mode. Green uses metaphores aplently and one of Davis’ qualities is quoting poets and using their quotes to refer to his own life. I liked it but it was all a bit much sometimes.

It was disturbing to hear Aza’s spiralling thoughts and seeing that she can’t break those thoughts, telling her what to do if she doesn’t want to be killed by bacteria. C. diff. is her her greatest torment and she goes very far in her thought process.

I wouldn’t read this novel again but in the end it created more awareness for me and I’m sure everyone who reads it and I’m grateful for that.

I won a paperback copy of this novel in a blogger’s giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

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38 thoughts on “Turtles All The Way Down by John Green #BookReview

  1. I have a copy of this one but yet to get to it. Sorry to hear that your first experience with Green’s books wasn’t quite good. I have read Looking for Alaska and Fault in Our Stars which were good so i’d recommend the two. Glad to hear that this was an informative read though.

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    • If you liked his other books then I’m sure you’ll like this one too. I’m well aware that he’s a bestselling author but I think he’s just not the author for me. I have Looking for Alaska as an ecopy so I can still give it another try but it’s not very high on my list now 🙂

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  2. You may not have enjoyed it, but you’ve given us a positive, balanced review so we can make up our own minds, which I really appreciate. We don’t all love the same books, and if this one didn’t hit the mark, that’s okay.

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  3. I only read Fault in Out Stars by John Green, and even though I loved it at the time, now when I think about it, I have different opinion on this book. And your review convinced me that I wouldn’t enjoyed this new book by Green, because it’s very likely I’ll have the same issues with it as you had.

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    • I think he has a very particular style, one that’s easy to recognize. It works for some and not so well for others… It’s interesting that you changed your opinion about Fault in Our Stars but I think you’ll know what to expect from this one if you already read that. Thanks for your comment Ola!

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  4. i dislike most of john green’s books but i loved this one precisely because of the way Aza was portrayed! maybe it’s because of my personal experiences but she felt super relatable and real in a way that not many other ya mental health books are. super interesting to hear how you were on the opposite side of that. I love the way you wrote your review even if we disagreed ❤

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  5. I agree that Green isn’t that into plot… However, I did feel Aza’s character developed. Her illness got slightly better at the end after getting much worse throughout the book.
    What I would have liked to see is for her to become more altruistic and less self-consumed. Ultimately the book seems more focused on *feeling* good as opposed to *being* good.

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  6. Pingback: On Individualism | Thily Fin

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