My Thoughts About Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Book Review #142)

It’s been a while since I read a YA book. So I said to myself, let me grab myself a YA book. And after some intense eenie meenie miney moe-ing, I ended up with Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. The last book I read from John Green was Paper Towns. A book which I did not enjoy. I have only read two of his works, The Fault in our Stars and Papertowns. I enjoyed The Fault in our Stars and put a thumbs down to Paper Towns. So this book, Turtles All the Way Down will be like a tie-breaker to determine whether I will put John Green on my priority list of authors to read Currently, I still have 3 remaining books by him which I have not yet read). Pressure’s on you John Green! Hahah *wink

Turtles All The Way Down follows the story of a sixteen-year old girl from Indianapolis named Aza Holmes, who struggles with severe OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It manifests itself in her by constatly being worried about being infected by germs and eventually dying from it. Aza describes this invasive thoughts as being sucked into a vortex until you are “stuck inside a prison cell that is exactly the size of you, until eventually you realize that you’re not actually in a prison cell. You are the prison cell.” The story begins when Aza and Daisy, her bestfriend, decide to investigate the mystery of the disappearance of a fugitive billionaire named Russell Pickett, whose the father of Davis, Aza’s old friend. Driven by the reward of $100,000 for information leading to Pickett’s arrest, they begin to investigate the disappearance. What follows next is a narrative about reconnecting with the past, friendships being tested, developing relationships, and fighting one’s internal struggles. We follow Aza as she tries to balance her life in the physical world and inside her mind as it spirals out of control. Her mind constantly makes her doubt and do things that’s not allowing her to focus on what’s on hand. How would Aza react when this two world became interwoven?

“Your now is not your forever.” – John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

John Green has a way with words that connects to the heart. That’s the thing I believe that I miss in Papertowns (Aside from the fact that there’s also no annoying character with this book). His metaphors, unpretentious dialogues and profound and intelligently researched ideas were all cohesively mixed in this novel. Adding to that is it’s skillful writing style and perfectly chosen words to describe each act, scene and emotion that worked well with the pacing of the story. The story took its time and it’s quite slow building but once it picked up, I could no longer stop reading.

This book offers relatable characters. So far, all of John Green’s characters that I read are intelligent. In this book, Aza’s quiet and thinks a lot. She’s strong-willed and has full of depth. The secondary characters in the novel also added color and texture to the story especially Daisy who writes Star Wars fan-fiction. Green puts life to his characters making it not hard to connect to them. I always like it when authors make their make readers feel that they are part of the narrative. You get to feel with the characters. You get to understand them. You get to be their friend. You get to be their family. Characters that you want to cheer on. Their is no sense of disconnection.

“We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe even more intimate than eye contact anyway. I mean, anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.” – John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

I also like that John Green treated teenagers in this books realistically as adults and not as people who “always” make dumb decisions at the start of the story and fixing the damage towards the end. I like how this book is not like that. Turtles All the Way Down encourages its readers to understand the youth and for the youth to understand themselves. What they are going through matters and what they are going through should not be trivialized. For it is in understanding oneself that one can get to acknowledge ones shortcomings and improve themselves for a better future.

I also like how this book has an honest representation of mental health. The book did not shy away from the fact that it is sad and disturbing but also acknowledge that there is hope from people suffering from it. This book teaches people to understand, relate and identify with people suffering from mental health issues. It does exist and it’s not meant to be just taken for granted. A lot of people struggle from it. Be sensitive. Educate yourself. Have a wider outlook.

I like how the romance in this book is just light. Romance did not become the main highlight if the book but rather the depth of the individual characters. The story is more character driven and it shied away from overly dramatic romance which is a refreshing change for me from all the past YA books that I read.

“…no one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.” – John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

This is own voices representation and I have to admire John Green for putting such an genuine, descriptive and honest work that deals with mental illness. The author was able to put forward a story that describes how someone with mental health issues affects the stability of his relationships with the people around him and his own internal struggles making the story relatable. Through this writing, I was able to feel John Green’s compassion towards people with mental health issues.

Overall, I like this book. It discusses identity. This book helped me understand mental illness more. It takes over a person’s thoughts and actions. This book is brutally distressing as the depiction off it is raw but also educational and I appreciate this book for that. This book is not just another contemporary young adult story. This will change your perspectives in life. Thank you John Green, I’m excited to read your other works.


Author: John Green
Format: Hardbound
Source: Bought
Release Year: October 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
No. of Pages: 288 pages

About the Author:

John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green’s career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children’s Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, “Brotherhood 2.0,” where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called “The Vlog Brothers,” which can be found on the Nerdfighters website, or a direct link here.

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