Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 10, 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

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.

Turtles All the Way Down is John Green’s first book in six years. I know that John was worried that he couldn’t write a book that would be as good as The Fault in Our Stars but he needn’t have. I think Turtles All the Way Down is actually better than The Fault in Our Stars. I was never fully on board with the almost zaniness of the subplot with Hazel’s favorite author in TFIOS. Turtles All the Way Downs subplot of the missing billionaire (see further down) was more realistic.

Turtles All the Way Down is the story of Aza, a high school girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or ODC. Her OCD manifests itself in the form of obsessive thought spirals. Once she starts thinking about certain things, she goes into a thought spiral that can be nearly impossible to come back out of. They mostly center on imagining that harmful bacteria has somehow gotten into her body and will lead to her getting clostridium difficile (C. diff) and eventually dying.

When Russell Pickett, a billionaire who lives in the same town as Aza, goes missing, Aza and her best friend Daisy set out to search for clues regarding his disappearance, hoping that they will be able to collect the $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to his whereabouts. Along the way, Aza renews her childhood friendship with Russell’s son Davis.

Russell’s disappearance in the book is secondary to how the book explores how Aza’s OCD affects her relationship with herself and with her friends. Each one is a struggle in its own way. I’ve read things from several people with OCD who say that John writes the internal dialogue of someone with OCD in the most accurate way they’ve every read. Even though I don’t personally suffer from it, I can see why they would say that. I felt like I had a much better understanding of the mental illness after reading this book. John has OCD himself so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why he could be so descriptive with Aza’s thoughts.

I highly recommend this book, as well as pretty much anything by John Green. Read his books, watch his vlogbrothers videos, and listen to the Dear Hank and John podcast. Become obsessed like me!

P.S. I was lucky enough to get on of the signed copies – look!


Other  John Green books I’ve reviewed:

Looking for Alaska
The Fault in Our Stars

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I expect great things from John Green so I’m not surprised you loved this. I had no idea he has OCD – I bet the portrayals in this book are very accurate. I have the audio and look forward to listening to it.

  • S.G. Wright

    Nice getting a signed copy. I liked TFIOS, which is the only one I’ve read of his books. But this one sounds good too. He is usually excellent with young adult characters. Glad you liked it.