Turtles All the Way Down

November 1, 2017

Author: John Green.


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.

(Published Summary)

My Thoughts:

I’ve never had a mental illness, so I can’t really say (as I would like to) that this is good portrayal of clinical anxiety and intrusive thoughts. I can tell you it made me uneasy, so much so that I had to put the book down several times and come back to it after a few minutes. I can tell you I’ve had nights that echoed the spiral-trap of Aza’s thoughts, a circling panic ungrounded in reality, and if it was only a pale echo still the writing-stirred memory had me flinching. I can tell you I believed her.

That was the thing. I believed Aza. If you told me that she’s a real person, that the ‘fiction’ label was just to protect identities, I would believe you. I didn’t go into Turtles all the Way Down with any good expectations, believe me. My one other experience with John Green was The Fault in Our Stars, and I hated it. Now, there was a lot of the same sort of philosophical musing that drove me nuts in TFioS, but it wasn’t as annoying this time. I think the characters just seemed less pretentious about it? Augustus and Hazel were running on with high-falutin theories about the nature of the universe, but Aza and Davis don’t think they’ve figured anything out. They’re just lost, lonely, trying to make sense of their lives.

(And hey, this train of thought actually led to a separate post that’ll be coming in a few days!)

The plot was… odd. Slow. The story’s very character-driven, and the whole billionaire thing seemed a bit bizarre. But I loved the ending. I loved the way Aza sees her life as a story (without being so self-aware as to break the fourth wall), and knew what her ending ought to be – and never would be.

Content Review:

Sexual Content: MC’s friend wonders aloud to her about the motivation behind a nude picture sent her. Internet-readers accuse fanfic writer of writing bestiality because a human is in love with a wookie. Character walks in on two kids kissing in a bedroom. “And in general, quite charming, and very sexually open and comfortable, although we didn’t do it or anything.” Some kissing. MC’s friend says she wants to lose her virginity, but that her boyfriend didn’t want to have sex unless he was sure they were in love.

Language: 29 F-words, 17 uses of “God”, 14 scatological terms, 9 hell, 5 d***, 3 derogatory terms

Violence: Two characters are in a minor (rear-ender) car accident. One of them is hospitalized with a lacerated liver; no one’s killed, and as far as we know no one else is hurt.

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