Review: Turtles all the Way Down (*****)
I have been a fan of John Green since I read ‘Looking for Alaska’ in 2008 or so. When ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ was published in 2012, I devoured it. I don’t know why I haven’t really read any of the books he has published in between, but these two have been said to be his best. When it was announced John Green would be releasing a new book this year, I pre-ordered a copy and waited until it fell on my doormat. I had to wait another day to have the time to read it, but when I finally had the time, I finished it in one sitting. I cried, I laughed, I cried some more and in this post I will attempt to tell you why I was not disappointed by ‘Turtles all the Way Down’.
‘Turtles all the Way Down’ tells the story of Aza, a young girl with OCD and an anxiety disorder. A lot of the book consists of Aza’s thoughts, more specifically her thought spirals. Ada and her friend Daisy stumble upon the mystery of the fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett and they decide to try to solve it.
I don’t think I am the only one who has ever experienced the tightening of a destructive thought spiral. You try to talk yourself out of it, but intrusive thoughts keep popping up in your head slowly dragging you down. Aza has this constantly and since the book is written from her perspective you get stuck in the thought spirals with her. It was incredibly confronting and scary and just so, so, so well written.
The book has all the characteristics of a John Green novel, it has elaborate details about non-essential things, like Tuataras and star constellations, it has a quirky best friend and a thoughtful, troubled love interest. Some people might find this annoying, I think it is part of reading a young adult novel. What sets ‘Turtles all the Way Down’ apart is the emphasis on mental illness and the way it is portrayed in the book. Since you are in Aza’s head and experiencing it with her, it gives such great insight into what it could be like to have OCD. The book also does not romanticize it but keeps it all very realistic. It is about how your family and friends respond to your mental illness and help is needed, but there is not always a ‘fix’.
I think you get the point, I LOVE this book. It really resonated with me and I would recommend it to everyone. If you loved ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and don’t mind John Green’s extravagant details, I would highly recommend this one. It is not so much a love story as a story about survival, friends and family.