Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Published by: Dutton Books
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary
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.
I heard amazing things about this book pretty much immediately after its release, and I’m very happy to say that I agree with them all. Turtles All the Way Down shot up my list of favourite John Green novels very quickly and, although it still followed a contemporary formula, the main beats of the story hit at times I was did not expect. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The personal nature of this book to John Green was made pretty clear since the very early days of its announcement (and even before that, if you follow the vlogbrothers on Youtube). It was eye-opening to read about Aza and her thought processes, and it actually explained a lot about John Green’s previous books, his writing style, and his love of metaphor and literature in general.
The book itself had some very interesting characters, and for the most part they really did feel like real kids. Kids who are a little too good with words and metaphor, as John Green’s characters so often are, but real people nonetheless. Aza’s relationships with all the people in her life were very genuine as well, and I probably enjoyed that aspect the most. Daisy and Aza, for one, fight and get angry and frustrated with each other, but they make up and forgive. Aza’s mother clearly tries to be helpful, but she misses the mark sometimes–and Aza understands, despite her occasional frustration. And Aza and Davis read like real teenagers learning about each other and themselves.
And on the subject of Aza and Davis, I should mention that the romance is not the main aspect of the novel–this is not TFiOS. Aza and her growth were definitely the focus of everything, which is why I think the expected story beats came at (slightly) unexpected times–they happened at moments that fit Aza and her life, not moments that would best fit the story and its upcoming conclusion.
It’s hard to write reviews for good books without just repeating all the things that were good, so I’l just leave this at that and let you decide for yourself.
Have you read this? Let me know what you think! I especially want to hear from readers who deal with the same sort of anxiety/OCD issues that Aza and John Green do, so if you have thoughts please share!