Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

VERDICT: 4.5 STARS

 

I really enjoyed this. It felt like a very introspective novel, more driven by Aza’s inner conflict than any outer plot. Yes, there is something about a missing billionaire, but all the external events really just serve to further develop the characters, which are amazing. This book is really (to me) about coming to terms with who you are and accepting the fact that there are certain immutable things that may feel like accessories to you, but affect who you are so much that they might as well be a part of you. It was very philosophical, which mostly worked, and I also really liked the ending.

My main qualm with the book was the way that Aza and Davis sometimes talk. There were a few things they said and a few texts (there was one in particular during their first text exchange about how I is the hardest word to define ) that just did not feel like how teenagers talk. (And I am a genuine, for-real seventeen-year-old teenager who writes melodramatic poetry and everything.) It felt like something that you might think, but you’d never say out loud to someone you’ve just reconnected with. Like, HAVE YOU MET TEENAGERS? We are all in the middle of thirty six and a half mini-crises over things like whether we should have smiled at that guy in the hall we kind of know. Even if we’re thinking about the fact that I is the hardest word to define (it’s a really cool turn of phrase) WE’RE NOT GOING TO SAY THAT SHIT TO SOMEONE ELSE because FUCKFUCKFUCK WHAT IF THEY THINK WE’RE IDIOTIC AND NEVER TALK TO US AGAIN. (100% authentic teenager thoughts right here.)

Beyond that, though, it was smooth sailing. Aza’s constant worry about germs controlling her thoughts was really relatable even if I don’t have any sort of mental illness. The worry or the sense that you’re not in control of your own thoughts (see aforementioned teenager freak-out-ing) is something I struggle with a lot and I think other people do as well. The story also felt very important from the aspect of putting you in the head of someone struggling with this sort of stuff. I think it did a great job at showing how invasive and uncontrollable mental illness is – it’s illness , not a choice.

I also really liked the ending. It was sad, but in a kind of inevitable way. That’s all I’m going to say, but you can check out my Goodreads review if you want more thoughts.

I also really loved Aza’s narration! I completely forgot to mention that earlier. It felt really authentic, like you could hear her speaking, and very distinctive. Certain long paragraphs really made you feel the endlessness of a thought spiral and others just crackled with character. I’d put in a quote here, but I lent my copy to one of my friends this afternoon, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Turtles All the Way Down was definitely a strong follow-up to The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a very different book, but I actually feel like it hit home for me more than TFiOS. It’s not perfect. (John Green’s teens are often too quotable. Nobody has, like, a deep-and-insightful-things-to-say paper that they just whip out whenever they can. Normal people just use the word “uh” a lot.) Still, I would definitely recommend reading it. It had enough humour, enough sadness, and enough Star Wars references for me to strongly enjoy it.

speaking of Star Wars references, I have some OPINIONS that don’t have to do with how much I enjoyed the book, but, if you care to read those, read on

Rey and Chewbacca ??? Like, I get that Daisy made some valid points about interspecies relationships and sexism, but I would not have any problem with a human and a Twi’lek. I’m just weirded out by the fact that since I heard Lucas based Chewbacca off a dog who loved to sit in the passenger seat of a car, that’s how I’ve seen Chewbacca. Like, the dog co-pilot. With a dog/human relationship with Han. Why Rey and Chewbacca?????? (I’ll give her that I’d rather have Rey/Chewbacca than Rey/Kylo, but STILL) Why??????????????????

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