Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

35504431Sixteen-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.


“Jam-Packed Full of Quotes”


I want to start off this review by saying that John Green is one of those authors that I think are a tad overrated. I have attempted to read his other works such as “A Fault in our Stars” and even “Looking for Alaska” and left them sitting in the DNF pile for a very long time. I thought I would try this book and give it a chance and I was somewhat pleasantly surprised.

This book is something that I would expect of John Green, and it’s probably not difficult to pick that he has written it is written in the same way and has similar motives and themes as his other titles. I think “Turtles all the Way Down” was a more comfortable book to digest compared to his others. Buckle your seatbelts guys, this one is going to be a long one…

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Themes

The themes in the books were quite serious, and I didn’t feel like the author romanticised the problems his characters were facing with their mental health issues. Sometimes you can have problems showing psychological health issues in a way that they are not and this is definitely not the case. I felt that the book showed the negative effects of these kinds of conditions quite well and how they impact both the person and the people around them.

I did at some points feel like I related to the character and have experienced some of those social stresses that she had. Especially where she interacts with the people around her. It was interesting and striking in a way to see how I sometimes feel in these moments where I relate written in a way that shows it so well. This book definitely highlighted the very negative aspect of these issues. Well, I think to an extent. I’m not sure you could actually capture the true horror of the issues people face in a book. (What do you think about this?)

 

“And then they went back to talking, the conversation shifting this way and that, everyone telling stories, talking over one another, laughing. I tried to smile and shake my head at the right times, but I was always a moment behind the rest of them. They laughed because something was funny; I laughed because they had.”
“You don’t talk much, Aza.” – “I’m never sure what to say.”

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Writing and Characters

I feel like the characters at points in the book were very true to their age, they felt authentic and did things that normal teenagers would do. John Green has a knack for writing young adults in a genuine way and capturing their mannerisms, and I think this is why he is so popular with his target audience. In doing this John Green makes his characters more relatable to the audience and allows them to sympathise and feel for the characters when they go through hard times.

There were a few times in the book were some of the characters mannerisms did get a bit overbearing after a while, and I felt like this was in an attempt to get his character to feel more lifelike however this is unrealistic and not everyone is like that.

John greens philosophical writing is something that he is apparently known for in his previous books. I think this writing style is good in small or controlled doses. The book, however, has a lot of moments where this kind of writing style did get in the way of the flow and made me skip some parts. It was a bit overdone, and I know this was going to be a factor because this is the main reason why I haven’t felt the pull to pick up his books again. I think this kind of writing did end up confusing me though because when the characters did go down their rabbit hole of philosophical and profound thoughts, it felt out of character and made them seem different than a few pages before.

The book was also full of one of the quotes which also made the reading experience seem disjointed. I felt like the number of quotes in this book was overdone and it just turned the book into one big quote fest.

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Plot

I understand that this kind of book mainly focuses on the characters mental health and what not. However, there were murder mystery themes added. I get it, there has to be a point and a story to the book and a resolution at the end. Adding this kind of murder mystery to the plot felt weird and kind of forced. Daisy gets Aza to join in on helping her find the murderer, Aza conveniently remembers a camera in the forest that could be used as evidence, they get caught BUT then its okay because of Aza knowns the kid of the father that went missing and they were friends as kids? I just don’t know…

 

Favourite Quotes:

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”

“He probably wouldn’t even remember me.” “Everyone remembers you, Holmesy,” she said. “That’s not—” “It’s not a value judgment. I’m not saying you’re good or generous or kind or whatever. I’m just saying you’re memorable.”

“I was so good at being a kid, and so terrible at being whatever I was now.”

“The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.”

“I think, You don’t pick your thoughts.”

“Your now is not your forever.”

“I use the internet. I just don’t feel a need to, like, contribute to it.”

“And then they went back to talking, the conversation shifting this way and that, everyone telling stories, talking over one another, laughing. I tried to smile and shake my head at the right times, but I was always a moment behind the rest of them. They laughed because something was funny; I laughed because they had.”

“You don’t talk much, Aza.” “I’m never sure what to say.”

“But you give your thoughts too much power, Aza. Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don’t.”

“An unwanted thought was like a car driving past you when you’re standing on the side of the road, and I told myself I didn’t have to get into that car, that my moment of choice was not whether to have the thought, but whether to be carried away by it.”

“You’re both the fire and the water that extinguishes it. You’re the narrator, the protagonist, and the sidekick. You’re the storyteller, and the story told. You are somebody’s something, but you are also your you.”

“love is both how you become a person, and why.”

 

Rating:

“Turtles all the Way Down” by John Green is a tough one to rate. I liked the book and reading it was a good experience. I think this one is going to have to be a ⭐️⭐️⭐️ /5 stars. I gave John Green a go after not finishing some of his other books and found it a good experience. So if this book sounds like something that you would be interested in, give it a go.

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