Format: Hardback – purchased
Links: Amazon UK | Goodreads
Blurb: 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.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
Review: If you know me, you’ll know that I love John Green. I adore all of his books and I’m pretty much a walking cliché for it. So naturally, I’ve been waiting for Turtles All the way Down for years… like, literally yeas. I ordered it the day it came out and a few days later, it was on my doorstep. First of all… I have to admit that I cried when I saw the special dust jacket cover which has a poster of all his most famous book quotes from his previous books. So yeah, that happened. But anyway… onto this book. I have a lot to say so I’m going to review it a little different, in sections rather than one great big whack of writing.
What’s it about?
Turtles All the Way Down is about Aza and her best friend Daisy who discover that a billionaire in their town has gone missing. Not only that, there’s a huge reward for anyone who can help locate him. And not only that, Aza used to be good friends with his son. Aza and Davis become close and have to navigate through their relationship and their own issues, including Aza’s severe OCD and mental health problems.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the most riveting storyline in terms of action. The billionaire storyline probably wasn’t strictly needed but unlike so many others, I actually really liked it winding through the main elements which is firmly Aza’s OCD and anxiety (more on that later). I thought the missing billionaire element could have been a bit “more” but I also understand that it was more about Davis and his brother, Noah’s reaction to their negligent, missing dad rather than the dad himself.
Mental health & Aza
John Green did an amazing job with Aza. Written from her point of view, you get a real, raw sense of what it’s like being in the mind of someone with OCD. Although I have anxiety, I don’t have OCD nor do I know too much about it and the thought processes that people with the condition have on a daily basis. But this book truly made me understand more. If you’re one of those people that say something is, “a little bit OCD” then I would highly suggest you read this book because I guarantee you will stop saying something so insensitive after reading it. It was heart-breaking at times, seeing Aza’s constant struggle with her own mind.
It’s quite obvious that Green went through extensive research for this character and her condition. We’ve all read books with mental health themes which weren’t sensitive or accurate and generally just got it really wrong but John Green knows what he’s doing, he understands and you can tell that straight away from this book. He doesn’t try and make Aza anything she’s not. She is what she is, thinks how she thinks and that’s that, we take her or leave her but we’re also led to sympathise with her and really feel for her as a character.
Aside from Aza who I’ve gone in to, I absolutely loved Aza’s best friend Daisy, she had such a huge personality and was probably my favourite character in the whole book – she’s the kind of person I’d love to be friends with myself (she also writes Star Wars fan fiction,what more could you want?) She’s a huge contrast to Aza, in fact the complete opposite and despite the fact they clash quite heavily in one part of the book, I think it makes them better friends that they are so different.
I would have liked to read more about Davis and know him more because on the surface, he’s a really interesting and intriguing character. He’s clearly quite lost in himself and in life – perhaps because of growing up a billionaire’s son and not having a mum but I liked the insights into his blog and his poetry.
There wasn’t many more main-ish characters but I think the characters such as Aza’s mum and her psychologist were very well written but also very annoying but I think that was intentional, especially because the book was written in Aza’s POV. From my own anxiety experiences, I know that people can come across as annoying when dealing with your mental health, even though their intentions are well.
After such a long wait, I personally was not disappointed in the slightest with Turtles All the Way Down. As always, it captures Green’s beautiful way with words and his immaculate ability to make you think about yourself and life in completely different ways. It was effortlessly written and effortless to read – it was without a doubt the quickest book I’ve read all year and I’m not a fast reader. Although it’s not the most action-packed and riveting book, it packs a punch, delivers a message and it made me think about the idea of the “self”, of our thoughts and actions and what it means to love and miss people. Nothing I say will do this book justice for me. I adored every bit of it.