BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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.

Storyline

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.

Characters

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.

Final thoughts

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.

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69 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

  1. I’ve seen so much publicity about this book that I’ve kind of switched off to it, if that makes sense? And I haven’t read any of his other books either (sorry!). But now, having read your review, I’m thinking I might give it a go. Like you, I don’t have OCD (although I am a bit of a control freak) so this could be a good eye opener. And Daisy sounds so cool, I’d love a friend like her! X

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  2. It sounds really intriguing. I have to admit I’ve never read any of John Green’s books, my friend adores him too but there is so much hype around his other books I knew I wouldn’t be able to get stuck into them. Maybe this will be a good place to start as I really like the idea of being in someones head with OCD (from a literature point of view). Glad you enjoyed it so much – it’s great when you really connect with a book isn’t it?! xxx

    • I totally get the not wanting to read a book because of all the hype thing but then I figure there must be something to it if there’s so much hype. I’d highly recommend Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska – those are my two favourites but if you’re interested in the POV and the mental health aspect then Turtles is the one! xx

  3. I’m going to put this on the Christmas list! I’ve seen it pop up everywhere and I can’t help but love him since he wrote The Fault In Our Stars too. I like adding new books to my list and book shelves, thanks for the review.

  4. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews of this, but I’m a big John Green fan (Looking for Alaska is my absolute favourite).. After reading this, I’m very tempted to pick it up and try it for myself! 🙊

  5. I’ve heard loads of good things about this book but I’ve always found John Green’s books to be a bit of a mixed bag – I loved The Fault in Our Stars but I wasn’t really a big fan of Looking for Alaska! After this review I might have to check this one out!

  6. I have created a reading list for 2018 and this book is going on it. I love how John Green writes and I feel like after only reading your review and nothing more of this book, I would really enjoy this! Your reviews are great by the way! x

  7. I was so excited to hear about the release of this book! I’ve read a few of John Green’s books and loved them all so I can’t wait to read this one, hopefully I will get it for Christmas. I love books about mental health as well so this book seems right up my street. I actually read a book called Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne and she covered OCD and it was amazing!

    Abbie
    overpeachchic.com

  8. I’ve never read a John Green book before. I’ve seen loads of publicity for this book, both online and in bookshops. But having read your review, I might get myself a copy of this book as it sounds so good. I’m going to have a very long TBR list for the new year x

    • I liked TFiOS too! Admittedly a lot more about 5 years ago when I read it the first time and was caught up in the romance and the heart break of it but I tend to steer clear of romance now. There’s very little romance in this one and it tackles some very deep and thoughtful topics (: xxx

  9. *whispers* I’ve never read John Green. I have two on my bookshelves, which I picked up second hand. Perhaps I should dig one out? It is great to see anxiety represented in fiction. Fiction can do so much to dispel myths.

  10. I have suffered with OCD since I was about 10 and it had caused me so much misery and fear, I honestly want to thank you so much for being one of the few people that agrees people would stop using the term flippantly. If they knew how terrifying, torturous and sad the illness often is I really don’t think they’d say it.
    That said, I have been toying with buying this book for a while, but I trust your judgement on books so I think I probably will read it.

  11. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this one! I haven’t read any John Green except Looking for Alaska, and I thought that was such a great book. I’m going to have to pick this one up and give it a go – I’m curious about how it discusses mental health and I’m glad that they do so in a positive light. Great review!

  12. Great review, I was hoping to read a review on this book and I’m so glad that I can’t across yours! The storyline seems interesting and is different from my usual reading preference but I might actually give this one a read! 💕

  13. I have only read The Fault in Our Stars (I own Paper Towns but haven’t got round to reading it yet!) but I am really excited to read this book. I find mental health portrayals can be a bit hit or miss but I’m fairly sure I’ve heard John say on his podcast that he actually has OCD (correct me if I’m wrong!) so I am really optimistic that this will be a well written and insightful look at it. Your review has got me adding it to my Christmas shopping list – a gift from me to me haha!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

    • I think he has you know- whether it’s similar to the main character or not, I don’t know but I’m sure he’ll have some more of a personal insight into the condition. But his research is also outstanding! Hope you enjoy it xxx

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