Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Penguin; 01 edition (10 Oct. 2017)
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.
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John Green, I do love you, muchos. I’m on the side of the fence who adores John Green and his writing and of course, his books. Not all of them were my cup of tea, mostly I loved loved loved Looking For Alaska, The Fault In Our Stars - but now I can add Turtles All The Way Down to that list.
I love Green’s writing, it speaks to me in a special way, which is why I’ve found that even if the plot or characters in his books aren’t 110% what I want to read about, I’ll still be spellbound by his writing, enough to continue on and appreciate the story. Green is hugely intelligent, witty, and his writing reflects that; there’s no half-heartedness to his stories, he’s socially aware, he strives to know more, so that his writing doesn’t just feel like 3 pages of wikipedia research that he’s then translated into a plot and then divvied up into characters. I appreciate that about this author and therefore appreciate that about his books, more so with this one.
Turtles All The Way Down has been on my radar since the MOMENT it was announced, and by golly gosh I was excited to read this. I counted down the days till it was released, but thanks to my reading slump, once it was out, I never picked it up. Until .. until that one fateful day when The Vegan One (hey Anna!) said she’d read it, and that I was LITERALLY like one of the characters in the book and that of course, she liked the book a lot. That’s all it took (.. well not really, it took me a lot of effort to get in the mood to read a book, but I got there in the end).
The book starts slow, and kinda continues at that pace, or that’s how it felt to me at least. But that’s not a criticism actually, I quite liked the ease of pace with which it all moved. This isn’t a fast, frenzied read, it’s a slow burner and I was okay with that - some people won’t be.
The Vegan One (hey again Anna!) was right - I was a lot like one of the characters in the book - Daisy. Daisy is bat-shit crazy, spontaneous, hilarious, kinda fierce, and did I mention bat-shit crazy? I was very much Daisy, but I was also Aza. One of the things I loved most about this book, what makes this a great book, was what I said earlier about Green writing with intelligence, and not some level of half-heartedness. The characters, even the plot itself in this book, wasn’t riveting and mind blowing. But rather, it was the construct of that one character, Aza, that really connected with me.
I have my own mental health issues which I’m only recently, and slowly, learning to be open about, mostly because I just don’t know how to put into words how I feel inside. But reading this book.. reading about Aza, about ‘the spiral’ resonated with me hugely and though it doesn’t encompass everything I think and feel with my own issues, it still highlights a lot of things and somehow with that spiralling metaphor, it does a great job trying to explain the thoughts and the process involved in a lot of mental health issues.
I know it’s a book, it’s a work of fiction, but something about the book just felt so hugely real - and maybe it’s because the plot and book wasn’t focused on the romance, it wasn’t even about solving the disappearance of Davis’ dad - but it was everything in between those bits, the nooks and crannies, the crevices in the story where we learn about loss, grief, anxiety, relationships. That was the best part of the book for me and I’m pretty sure John Green knew exactly what he was doing when he was writing this. It’s a departure from the work of his that I’m used to, the YA-centric, romance driven stories that I’ve loved from him, but this one just felt that much more deeper and important on so many levels.
This book let us feel OCD and anxiety - for me personally, there were parts in the book that I’ve never read or felt in any other book - the most distinct scene where Aza is battling with herself about swallowing hand sanitiser (.. ok this will make so much more sense if you’ve read the book). But the dialogue played out between Aza and her mind, was terrifying and at the same time, amazing to me - because we’re not just reading a sentence about ‘Aza fought within herself’ or something along those lines, no, instead we have it played out for us. I could see the struggle and the compulsion and anxiety in that scene. It’s show and tell x 100. It was brutal and honest and unflinching.
Now. Some other things. The romance, ah the romance. Twas cute, and not actually central to the storyline which I appreciate a lot. Because I didn’t want this story to be dwarfed by the romance element, or be shown that a boy, feelings, can ‘fix’ something inside someone - not to say there are instances where it can, and that’s great - but in this case, it wasn’t the focus and I appreciate that. I appreciate how we’re inside Aza’s mind and the way she thinks and feels when it comes to kissing Davis, and on the flip side we get Davis, the super sweet, super cute guy who doesn’t push, who doesn’t judge.
Let’s lay down some dislikes. I loved Daisy’s character, but I also wanted to slap her when she came out with all that stuff about Aza, AND THE FACT THAT SHE WROTE FANFICTION ABOUT HER THAT MADE HER OUT TO BE SOME EXHAUSTING PERSON. Oh my, that scene had me itching my palms for a slap. NOT. COOL. I get they forgive each other in the end, but if that was me, there’d be a punch up involved in there somewhere, just sayingg.
All in all, I can say this was a very different book to what I went in expecting, and I’m very very glad of that. I liked this book a lot, and I feel like it’s an important one too. Well done again Mr Green, well done. ALSO. THE TITLE. Guys, it’s a metaphor. IT’S A METAPHOR. IT’S NOT MEANT TO BE ABOUT TURTLES! ALSO ALSO. I freaking love the cover and title, more so because I know so many people hate it LOL. I’M DONE, BYE.
Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you do.
Your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.
Your now is not your forever.
I guess I just don’t like having to live inside of a body? If that makes sense. And I think maybe deep down I am just an instrument that exists to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide, just like merely an organism in this . . . vastness. And it’s kind of terrifying to me that what I think of as, like, my quote unquote self isn’t really under my control? Like, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, my hand is sweating right now, even though it’s too cold for sweating, and I really hate that once I start sweating I can’t stop, and then I can’t think about anything else except for how I’m sweating. And if you can’t pick what you do or think about, then maybe you aren’t really real, you know? Maybe I’m just a lie that I’m whispering to myself.