Saturday, 21 October 2017

'Turtles All the Way Down' by John Green: A Book Review

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.

I'm crying. 

I just finished the book and opened my laptop and came online and opened up this review and I'm crying. 

I don't know why. I don't know how. I just know that I am.


That kind of sums up the story of Aza Holmes, to be honest. Aza has an anxiety disorder. OCD, to be precise. And no, that doesn't mean she's a neat freak or she likes things to be in order or whatever television and movies have told you. Aza. Has. OCD. She's fighting the demons of her mind every day; she's fighting her obsessive and intrusive thoughts, and her anxiety, and her compulsive actions every single day. 

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.

What I loved and simultaneously hated about Green's latest novel is that I could relate to Aza so much. I've dealt with intrusive thoughts (mine weren't about bacterial infection, like Aza's, but they were intrusive and obsessive nonetheless), but what made me relate to her so much was how everybody else perceived her. I can't go into this in more detail, because spoilers, but part of me felt like Aza was part of me. 

Of course, you pretend to be the author. You have to. You think, I now choose to go to lunch, when that monotone beep rings from on high at 12:37. But really, the bell decides. You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.

You start reading the book and you think the story will be about Russell Pickett's disappearance, or about Aza and Davis' love story, but it isn't. I mean, it is, of course, but they're secondary. It's Aza; it's all Aza. This story is so incredibly character-centric. I felt like you could take away the whole plot and leave only Aza's thoughts - and maybe Davis' blog entries - and I'd still love this book to pieces. 
Life is a series of choices between wonders.

Maybe the part about the disappearing billionaire and the cash prize is something you wouldn't see every day in real life, but the rest of it is so raw and realistic. Like Davis and Aza's love story, or the part about mental illness, or even Daisy and Aza's friendship.

We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn't matter because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe even more intimate than eye contact anyway. I mean, anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see. one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.

I know I've written in previous book reviews that I'm not too fond of John Green's pretentious, philosophical writing, but I feel like he's toned it down this time. It all actually makes sense. I found myself making a note of quotes every other page. But I've only mentioned a few in this review, because obviously. 

I'm going to go with 4.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Turtles All the Way Down is a brilliant telling of the day-to-day struggles of someone living with mental illness, punctured by bursts of romance, humor and goddamn tear-jerking moments that come out of nowhere. Whether you have OCD or not, you have to read this book. You have to read this book.

Have you read TATWD, Geeks, or are you planning to? Let me know in the comments below. Which is your favourite John Green novel? Mine's this one, for sure, followed by TFIOS. This man is getting better with age, like fine wine. 

I'll see you guys later. Bye!

PS: I'm starting a YouTube channel soon (Swati the Geek). First video should be out in a week's time. I'm so psyched!


  1. cant wait to watch Swati the Geek as youtuber! all the best

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