Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First Published: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Mental Illness, Contemporary, Romance
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 don’t know about you, but I was seriously wondering if John Green would ever publish a novel again after the success that was THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.
I would not have blamed him, because it’s hard to follow an international success, but I would have thought that to be some incredible talent wasted.
Luckily TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN came along. John Green’s style is recognizable immediately: philosophical writing, introspective heroine and coming-of-age themes.
This is peculiar. At first you think it’s going to be focused on a mystery case, but then you realize Aza’s mental health is quite precarious… and the romance comes along, so you’re wondering: what am I reading about, truly?
I’ll tell you. You’ll be reading about a girl whose thoughts consume her. She distracts herself with finding an elusive millionaire and spending time with Daisy and Davis, but the thoughts never leave her mind. And they are destructive ones.
In my opinion, Aza’s mental illness—so the theme itself—is well enough handled, because we are explained what it is and how it affects Aza comprehensibly, though I do admit the ways to keep her from letting the “demon” take control are not fully explored. Aza herself never trusts nor likes the medication.
People with mental illnesses are people like the rest of us. They’re not some alien species that needs to be exterminated. Only when the illness takes over are they acting “crazily,” so we should not assume all people with mental illnesses must be locked up for their own safety and the safety of others. (The world would be so empty otherwise.)
The characters are not particularly memorable, although I did enjoy reading about Aza. The other two—Daisy and Davis—did not charm me in any way. They are “OK,” but I wouldn’t expect to fall in love with them if I were you. Daisy is the over-enthusiastic one, who usually leads the conversation, and Davis the quiet, brooding, mysterious boy.
Everything else, I adored. John Green’s writing may be philosophical, but his ideas are conveyed clearly.
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