Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green


Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Published by: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publishing date: October 10th 2017

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 288

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.

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Things I liked:

– The OCD and anxiety representation: This book has #ownvoices representation for OCD and it shows, the depictions of intrusive thoughts in particular are so vivid that it’s easy to empathize with the frustration, the feeling of inevitability and the feeling of being out of control that the main character experiences. In terms of the representation, other aspects that are very well done are: 1) the fact that mental illnesses are a life long struggle and 2) other people don’t understand, even the ones that try to understand have moments were they just don’t, or sometimes it’s just too much for them.

– Positive view of therapy: this is so important and it’s missing from so many books that deal with mental health, even if lately there’s more and more that have positive representation of therapy.

– Love is not a cure: John Green stays away from the love ‘fixes’ people trope. Davis was not a cure for Aza’s mental illness. Also, John Green doesn’t shy away from showing how some actions that for a lot of people are easy like kissing can be difficult, awkward and embarrassing to someone with a mental illness.

-Aza is a quiet person and that’s amazing: Aza is incredibly quiet, and she is ACTUALLY incredibly quiet. A lot of times in books, a character is described as quiet and then you see them be social butterflies and it’s disappointing. So, Aza is quiet and intelligent, and she thinks a lot and as someone who is quiet, I think that’s amazing.

-Davis is a great love interest: He is considerate and patient and such a good big brother. I loved the relationship between Davis and Aza.

Things I didn’t like:

-Some aspects of Aza and Daisy’s friendship: Daisy didn’t understand Aza’s OCD and anxiety, so she felt like Aza didn’t care about her, when in reality Aza was just trying to survive her mental illness and she didn’t have energy for much else. The main problem is that Daisy said some pretty hurtful and harsh things and then she gave a half assed apology, after that everything was resolved too easily and there were things that weren’t addressed.

– Pretentious characters that are a bit unrealistic for the way they talk: This is always a problem with John Green’s characters, I knew what to expect and I didn’t mind that much. But still I feel like it’s important to mention it because it takes you out of the story sometimes, when it’s hard to suspend one’s disbelief at the way the characters talk like they are philosophers.

-It has a weak plot: The plot is introduced shortly at the beginning and then it’s kind of mentioned throughout the story when characters make loose comments about it, but nothing else really happens with the plot until the very end. They do solve the mystery and that help me feel like the plot wasn’t an entire waste of time.

Rating: 4,2 stars

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Do you have it on your tbr?

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14 thoughts on “Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

  1. Wow this review is exactly how I felt! I thought the mental illness rep was amazing, and even though I don’t have OCD or Anxiety I have small tendencies of them and I could relate to some of Aza’s thoughts on a smaller scale. And the ones I didn’t have firsthand experience with I thought John Green did a great job of explaining and describing through Aza. I hadn’t even thought about the positive view of therapy until now, and it’s a great point! Ugh when the whole Daisy drama broke out I HATED her, and I still haven’t completely made my amends with her even though Aza did. I’m still mad. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way about Daisy! I definitely feel like that situation wasn’t handled in the best way. A lot of people tha deal with mental illnesses have family or friends that don’t really understand and I feel like John Green missed an opportunity to address that in the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read and reviewed this a while ago and had a very similar reaction that you did. There was that one Daisy and Ava scene and the way the plot followed after that I really disliked and for me it was one of the things that really pulled me down for the book.

    Loved the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I know what scene you’re talking about and I think if John Green really wanted to talk about the reactions and opinions of other people, he really should have addressed better. But I loved the depiction of OCD and anxiety so much that I couldn’t bring myself to lower myself the rating more than 4 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

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