The John Green fans waited almost five years for his new book, which finally came out in October of last year. The announcement of it was unexpected – especially after the initial statement of the author that he would likely never publish again, because he felt like nothing he would ever write could compare to his most famous book – The Fault in Our Stars.
“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.”
Turtles all the way down is not a typical “John Green” book. If you expect the usual Green teenage love story full of romance and teenage struggles, you will be disappointed. There is a romantic story line in the book, but only in the background and it is not even comparable to author’s other book, where the love is usually the main plot-moving force. The focus of this story is the mental health of the main character, Aza, who is a germophobe, which makes it difficult for her to function in her day-to-day life. She is scared that she is being manipulated by her own bodily functions, which are stronger than her own will. The story begins when her best friend convinces Aza to investigate the disappearance of her childhood friend’s dad.
The plot is very slow and predictable. But it is full of author’s typical quotable remarks, thoughts, and totally random facts. So if you like Green because of his writing style, you will not be disappointed. BUT if you are after love and thrill and maybe a little bit of adventure (as one would expect from the annotation), there might be a slight disappointment.
The story is also missing any kind of usual comic relief character, who would bring a little bit of humour to the table and lighten the atmosphere when needed. Even the amount of pop-culture references is not as high as in Green’s other books, maybe with exception of Star Wars, since Daisy, Aza´s best friend, is the popular fanfic author. (btw I just find it interesting how every time there is a fanfic writing character in fiction, it is always portrayed as highly popular/bordering famous. Why not create a character of really bad fanfiction or a good one, but without the luck of making it big? Just a thought.)
I really liked how the author portrayed the friendship between Aza and Daisy, especially considering the Aza´s health struggles. Regarding the germophobia – another thing the sensitive reader should consider – if you are a little bit of a hypochondriac, do not read this book. There are very detailed descriptions of infections and illnesses and microbes floating everywhere. I was not aware of these things, but now I don’t think I will ever forget. Thanks, John Green.
Overall you can tell this book is a book by John Green, but at the same time – it is not one of his best. I missed the romance he writes so well, so it is a shame he decided not to use this asset again. At the same time, I applaud he tried something new, something not in his comfort zone, which many writers refuse to leave throughout all of their careers. The Turtles All the Way Down is an average contemporary, not bad, but nothing spectacular. But maybe next time, Green will come out with the book better than the Fault in Our Stars. I trust you, John. So, until next time.
Favourite Character: Honestly… nobody was my favourite.
Favourite Quote: “The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”