Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Date Read: January 02, 2018

Publisher: Dutton Books

Number of Pages: 290 pages


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.

[Blurb here on Goodreads]


You just know that the book you’re reading is a John Green book. I dunno, but you can really see his writing style in all of his works and it’s pretty consistent in this one too, compared to other writers and I can definitely feel him in Turtles All The Way Down. If you’re a fan of him, you know what I mean. So first of all, I did not read the blurb before reading the book because I wasn’t actually planning on reading it anytime soon, but I was off to somewhere and had time to kill so I read it through an e-book (I do have the physical copy too, sitting happily on my shelf) and  before I knew it, I was almost half way through the book. Mr. Green, you did it again. What I thought was just a book about two best friends on a hunt for a reward to an investigation of a missing billionaire turned out to be a little something more.

Turtles All The Way Down consist of trigger warnings for OCD and anxiety so be cautious when reading this book because it was such a roller coaster for me. I get anxious on some occasions but not like our girl Aza here, this girl really has a lot on her plate. Anxiety and OCD, not a good  combination. She’s had it since she was young and has been bravely dealing with it everyday of her life, of course with the help fo her Star Wars obsessed best friend, her medication that she thinks she’s been taking daily, therapy and high school. But one day, the father of an old friend of Aza goes missing, her most fearless friend decides to do their own investigation that happens to have a hundred thousand dollar reward. As Aza rekindles a spark from her past life, she also struggles to be a “normal” teenager living a “normal” life.

“I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense.”

I guess this was very timely too. I remember that halfway through 2017, mental health was being tackled and supported everywhere in and out the U.S and was also being communicated by everyone online, spreading the awareness, that it is indeed, not a laughing matter. Reading TATWD is like being inside someone else’s head. You get to witness Aza fighting her unwelcome thoughts, telling her to do this or that AND not to mention her constant fixation on Clostridium difficile, bacteria, infections, etc. was driving her insane which led her to the part of the book that I HATED THE MOST.  I was shaken to my very core, I was scared and mad about it. But then again, do people end up doing extreme means just to be sure? Do they really have no power over their mind and stop it? Do their dark days REALLY ARE DARK? It raises a lot of questions that makes me wanna open up a discussion, did John Green go way too far with that move, or was he just giving us a view on what really is happening to people who are going through it. (Leave your comments down below!)

“Actually, the problem is that I can’t lose my mind,” I said. “It’s inescapable.”

On a lighter side, I shipped Aza and Davis so much. They met at a “Sad Camp” when they were young and kind of drifted apart when they got older. I loved how charming and innocent they both were and how they were deeply in love with each other without proclaiming it to the world (and admitting it to themselves). They were running everything at their own pace. (*Spoiler alert*) I would honestly love to read something (some fanfic maybe?) where they end up together. It was a lighter take on what Gus and Hazel had (TFIOS peeps). I really liked Davis, a lanky teenager obsessed with poetry and astronomy, looked at life differently. He saw Aza like no one else would. The chemistry between them was there, they might have ended up together on different circumstances, maybe in another lifetime. Likewise, JG made a good move where he didn’t focus too much on their love story, he focused on Aza and how she handled being in a relationship with Davis despite of her quirks. Imagine, having fear of germs and being in a relationship that involved hand-holding and some kissing, I know right? Struggle definitely real.

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

John Green fits perfectly in the Young Adult section, it’s as if he knows how the teenage mind like no one else. Well, of course he had some help, but still. He made something so complicated and so serious into something so easily relatable. Some of us have no idea on what OCD is or what Anxiety is, but he painted a good enough picture for us to see it. Turtles All The Way Down tells us that the person we are right now consists of not only one version of ourselves, we can be more if want to, hell, we can be the best of it if we work hard enough. It shows us that physical, emotional, psychological or any type of flaw should not be a burden to us. We shouldn’t let any flaw define us, dictate on what or who we are but rather, let ourselves define those flaws and wear like jewels or treat them like superpowers and own it. If you’re a fan of John Green, I’m guessing you’ve already read this but if not, don’t miss out! If you have no idea who he is and want to try it, it’s a light read for all types of readers. Witty, lots of Pop Culture related stuff in context and warm to the heart.

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

Rating: stars