Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Vassily S., Writer

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4½ Stars Out of 5

John Green and his brother, Hank Green, are a dynamic duo, running science shows, a vlog YouTube channel and a podcast. John’s most recent book, written in 2017, is called Turtles All the Way Down and is heavily focused on family and self-development. The “John Green effect”, which means there is more focus on genuine characters and their development, is ever-present in all his novels. They focus on friendship, school drama, and even deeper subjects like death or horrible disease.

In this story, the protagonist, a 16-year-old girl named Aza, faces severe mental disorders including serious anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She worries about bacteria and other things and ends up in a downward spiral, which is an important plot device. Aza, along with her friend, Daisy, attempts to find a missing billionaire, Russell Pickett, in hopes of winning $100,000, the prize the police promised for the whereabouts of the man. It turns out that the billionaire’s son is one of Aza’s old friends, Davis. As the story evolves, Aza has to deal with friend drama and tackling her mental illnesses, while juggling being a good student and a little romance.

Along with the changes seen in Aza’s behavior, the best principle of this story is how relatable it is. I know someone who suffered from mild anxiety in 4th grade and had trouble sleeping. They dealt with downward spirals, thinking about things more and more until they almost lost their mind. In this way, the story was quite philosophical and made me truly think about many things in life. The plot is well paced, but the beginning is a little hesitant or slow, while on the other side of the spectrum, I felt the ending to be rushed and some questions I had were unanswered. Overall the characters, the emotions and the plot were very well rounded, and deserve 4½ stars (out of 5). If you haven’t read it already, Turtles all the Way Down, by John Green should definitely be on your reading list for 2018.

[NOTE: Spoilers were avoided in this article in the hope of getting others to read it.]