Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

For this review I am going to stray from my typical post pattern. This book is a bit too abstract to write a summary without providing any kind of commentary, so I’m going to dive right in.

It’s a typical John Green book, as it has the usual overly philosophical takes on life. I say that with a negative tone, but I don’t mean it that way. With most authors I would find this pattern annoying. With Green, I enjoy it. This is made even better by what Green does in this book that he hasn’t done with any other. Turtles All the Way Down is a sharp, real take on OCD, intrusive thoughts and mental illness.

In parts, it was disturbing. Each hand sanitizer scene was accompanied by a clenched, sickening feeling in my stomach. When Aza is finally caught in her life-threatening hand sanitizer habits, I felt nothing but relief. Turtles All the Way Down gets all its shock from an unusual source: realism. The emotional, accurate attempt to make Aza’s OCD resonate with readers is all the more poignant when you realize that the Green himself suffers from this condition.

Finally we have a book about this subject that isn’t a rollercoaster for the sake of sensationalism, but because that is what mental illness is actually like. We have a peak moment of conflict in Aza’s actions, and though she eventually lives beyond that point, the plot (and her struggle with OCD) doesn’t remain perfectly resolved.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book because of how true it feels, but there isn’t much I could say that hasn’t already been said.

There was more to love beyond the realistic outlook on mental illness. Daisy is a Star Wars fanfiction writer, and as a diehard Star Wars fan, it would be unbecoming of me not to mention this. I got more than one laugh out of this story because of the Star Wars references.

The bit with the Applebee’s coupons was a hoot; I especially appreciated this part because I love Applebee’s. It may be a mediocre American restaurant chain, but I am a big fan.

I also like the central romance of this story. It was sweet and simple and nice, and such a change of pace from the usual YA romance melodrama. Yes, they had conflict, but it didn’t feel forced.

Finding out several months ago that there would be a new John Green book was an exciting moment, and this book proved to be worth every bit of the hype. It is, by far, the best Green book yet. We can only hope Green’s unnamed, unannounced future books are just as emotional and effective.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

  1. Honestly the hype connected with it scared me a bit.. But it didn’t disappoint at all. And I feel like the philosophical musings are both more overt and more implicit in this novel.. there are so many things at work that you don’t notice at first, but which became clearer with a closer analysis..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point about Green’s use of philosophical thought. And hype is definitely scary! The more people hype a book (or movie), the higher my expectations transform, and the more nervous I get about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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