Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | Review

Pages: 290

Genre: young adult, contemporary, mental health


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.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:


“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

Ahh I loved this book, I read it in a day about a week after the release. And I haven’t been able to write a review since because of the feelings (and physics).*

I cried so much for the first time in a while because this story is so moving and the characters felt so real, and they all had their problems. Of course, I want to side with Aza, because that’s the perspective you follow through the book. But the book doesn’t let me, it points out the people who feel hurt by Aza. It was good to represent how people doesn’t automatically understand each other, it demands a lot of willingness, effort and communications from all parts. Especially when it comes to anything like illness. I don’t know much about OCD, but from all I’ve heard this book is a good representation of it. Obviously, OCD doesn’t manifest in only one form, but I still felt like I learned a lot about thought spirals and how obsessiveness can manifest itself.

If I would give any negative criticism of this book, it would be that it’s difficult at the beginning to distinguish John Green’s voice as the author and Aza’s narrative. The problem vanished for me after a while, which I can’t really explain, might be getting used to it, might be getting to know her better. I do not agree with the characters being too mature, we need that as well in young adult novels. I feel like it’s needed to say this is not a mystery novel, a disappearance is a element of the plot, but it doesn’t drive it. If you want that I would recommend “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson.

It’s one thing to know of how serious mental illness can be, it’s something completely different to get it (literally) spelled out and in your face. I especially liked the part at the end, in the darkness, where Aza tries to explain her thoughts and fears. I’ve followed vlogbrothers for years, and you can kind-of notice when John is worse than normal, but not to what degree. It was a really positive surprise to realize how open, informing and serious he was about displaying OCD after not having gone into depth about it for so long.

“Turtles all the way down” also has humour and a good balance between darker and lighter aspects, but from the beginning it shows how it’s all intertwined. It’s simply a brilliant book, the writing, characters, mystery and depth is all there. Would completely recommend, it’s worth all the hype it’s getting.

*this was originally written some time ago, a few weeks after the release

SPOILERS: have you checked the inside of the book jacket?




3 thoughts on “Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | Review

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