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Turtles All the Way Down

by John Green

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7132002,471 (3.96)83
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.… (more)
  1. 40
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (chwiggy)
  2. 20
    Looking for Alaska by John Green (MarchingBandMan)
    MarchingBandMan: The other quasi-existentialist John Green book. Miles Halter deals with existentialism/nihilism in a different way than Aza Holmes, yet this earlier, rawer YA novel expounds on similar themes.
  3. 10
    Paper Towns by John Green (chwiggy)
  4. 00
    What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (Micheller7)
  5. 00
    Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (Micheller7)
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English (179)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
Aza Holmes is just your average teenager: trying to get through high school, prepare for college, spend time with friends, experiment with dating, get through the ups and downs of mental illness, and track down a fugitive with a $100,000 reward.

The mystery aspect is only a small part of the story, giving it an interesting twist while still maintaining a realistic feel. The main focus of the story is Aza’s struggle with mental illness, wherein her thoughts sometimes take her captive and make daily life difficult at best and dangerous at worst. Her experiences are based on those of the author and the way it’s written paints a vivid portrait of what it’s like to live with this kind of condition. On top of that, I really enjoyed the story and the growth of Aza’s relationships with her friends and family! ( )
  vvbooklady | May 9, 2021 |
I put this one off for a long time and honestly, I would have been better off never reading it. I understand the main character has mental health issues such as extreme anxiety and therefore we are also exposed to that anxiety. I have no problems with this. I used to be a therapist and I'm on medication for anxiety and depression and have had therapy. What I object to is just the awfulness of every single person in this book. They all seemed to use each other, not actually like each other and when the "mystery" is finally solved, the terribleness continues and then the book just ends. I completely do not understand what the fuss was and honestly, skimmed some of it because I was bored and annoyed. Save yourself the aggravation and skip it. ( )
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |
I love the writing style, but the story is a bit anxiety-inducing. ( )
  MamaJ2016 | May 4, 2021 |
Turtles All The Way Down is definitely a John Green book, with all the pros and cons that statement comes with. That being said, I did like it. Quite a bit. Turtles All The Way Down is the latest novel written by John Green. The novel follows the story of Aza Holmes, a sixteen-year-old girl with a pretty severe anxiety disorder. 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. (Mild spoilers follow)

So, I don't know if it was just me or if the marketing campaign really screwed up, but I was definitely under the impression that this book was more of a mystery novel. It is not a mystery novel. It is not a mystery novel. IT IS NOT A MYSTERY NOVEL. Everybody all clear on that? Good. I wish the advertising for the novel had been a bit more forthcoming about the fact that this book is really about a girl with a pretty severe anxiety disorder. I was not mentally prepared for a book like that, and the longer I read, the more anxious I became. That's not to say the book is bad or anything, it's genuinely really, really good. I just think that everybody needs to know what they're getting into when they start this book. If you find yourself in need of a trigger warning before consuming potentially triggering content, this is your trigger warning.

The vast majority of Turtles All The Way Down deals with Aza and her anxiety. It's handled in a really, really realistic and respectful way. Almost too realistic. If I had to bet money, I'd bet that much of this novel is autobiographical in one way or another. While I went into this expecting a mystery novel, I really liked that I ended up getting a novel that dealt so much with anxiety. As someone with anxiety, so much of this hit home so well for me. The way Green describes invasive thoughts and anxiety spirals as this thing that you can't escape that just gets tighter and tighter as it keeps winding its way down your brain really was amazing. I've never seen that concept explained in such an accurate way before and it was such a joy to read in this novel.

His characters, as always, feel a bit... fake in that no teenager talks the way he has them talk and they always think in these pretentious philosophical ways and it always feels just a little bit off. They're well written and developed characters, but they still suffer from that factor that John Green has always been known for suffering from. One thing that's worth noting, though, is that this book very much doesn't glorify or romanticize mental illness (or any illness). That's an accusation that's been lobbed at John Green for pretty much his entire career, and I'm happy to say that it's not a problem that's in this book. Anxiety is painted in a sympathetic but ugly light. A lot of detail goes into explaining just how awful mental illness can be. Green is careful not to stigmatize or demonize mental illnesses, but he also makes sure to properly show just how awful and unappealing it is. It's definite growth in his depiction of mental illness and it's a welcome growth.

It's hard to talk about the "plot" of the novel as it really revolves around Aza coming to grips with her anxiety and how it impacts the people around her and how her life and Davis Pickett's life interacts and weaves with each other's. I thought it was paced really well. It never dragged nor did it move unrealistically quickly. Things happened at the speed they needed to happen and plenty of time was spent on things that needed time spent on them. It's a quick read; it's not a particularly long book nor is it a particularly challenging read. But it's a well-paced read. You feel satisfied with how things went by the end of the novel.

Honestly, this is probably my favorite of John Green's books. I loved The Fault in Our Stars, but he ran awfully close to romanticizing illness there and I enjoyed Paper Towns (and never understood the criticism it got for the fact that Margot was a "manic-pixie dream girl"; that was sorta the point of the book. Q had to learn to stop viewing her like that and understand that she was an actual person and not an idealized construct), while I never managed to finish Looking For Alaska and haven't looked at An Abundance of Katherines or Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Turtles All The Way Down is a surprising book. It's not a mystery novel; it's a genuinely moving look at how anxiety can impact the life of the sufferer and those who care for them. It's a sweet story about friendship and young love. It's heartbreaking and funny and entertaining and it's worth reading, especially if you or anyone you know has ever suffered from an anxiety disorder.

(4 out of 5 wands) ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
Love the ending ( )
  nikkiroy | Apr 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Greenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rudd, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills. -Arthur Schopenhauer
Dedication
To Henry and Alice
First words
At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time -- between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. -- by forces so much large than myself that I couldn't even begin to identify them.
Quotations
No one ever says goodbye unless they want to see you again.
But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell....You think you're the painter, but you're the canvas.
Your now is not your forever.
I thought about him asking me if I'd ever been in love. It's  a weird phrase in English, in love, like it's a sea you drown in or a town you live in. You don't get to be in anything else---in friendship or in anger or in hope. All you can be in is love.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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