There are no spoilers in this review.
Before heading into this, I have to say that this is the first time I’m reviewing a John Green book properly on my blog and I feel really weird about it. Yes, my blog is called drizzle and hurricane books, yes, I’m a huge fan of John Green’s books. Yet no, I never reviewed a John Green book on my blog.
I know. What the heck am I doing.
Anyway, let’s move on. Before I get into this review, know that, even if you don’t like John Green too much or just didn’t enjoy Turtles, you’re still welcome to leave your thoughts, I don’t bite even if I’m a fan of Green’s work 😉
ORANGE SPIRALS, ALL THE WAY DOWN
“Everyone wanted me to feed them that story—darkness to light, weakness to strength, broken to whole. I wanted it, too.”
Turtles All The Way Down‘s synopsis is telling us about Aza, a teenage-girl with very anxious and invasive thoughts all the time, getting into an adventure with her best friend Daisy and trying to find her former childhood friend Davis’ dad who has disappeared. A mix of mystery, suspense, maybe, adventure, fun, childhood friend trope and so on. Well. Strike all of that. Before anything else, Turtles All The Way Down is a real insight into Aza’s life and her own story. What it’s like to live with OCD and how it controls her thoughts and sometimes takes over her actions and her own life.
Despite what the synopsis promises us, I think it’s really important to mention that, in this story, you have to expect what you’re seeing on the cover. Not turtles (unfortunately), but this orange spiral. Endlessly.
AMAZING REPRESENTATION AND REALISTIC CHARACTERS
“Your now is not your forever.”
I know I’m probably making it out as a boring book, just saying this right now. That’s not true: Turtles All The Way Down is intense, but not for the reasons you might imagine an action-paced book to be. It is intense to read, sometimes hard, sometimes you want to take a breath but realize you can’t, sometimes you want to close the book but want to know how the thoughts end, how everything happens next. John Green doesn’t explain us what it’s like to live with OCD, he shows us with vivid details, throwing us without any kind of warning or consent into thoughts spirals and endless loops Aza is going through in her everyday life. An intense, very realistic representation of OCD that can be a bit triggering for some people, that will make you feel like you are struggling too, just by reading the words. This is an #ownvoices story, so I only have to tip off my imaginary hat to John Green for being able to write these struggles at all.
“I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me.”
Obviously, we follow Aza and Daisy’s quest as they try to find out the missing billionaire, as Aza tries and navigates her own relationships with her best friend, who doesn’t always quite understand her thoughts, and tries and makes or re-make her relationship with Davis. Scenes that are always tainted with John Green’s prose, a language and dialogues that might seem a bit “pretentious” for some people, but that I personally just found really thoughtful. I’m sure John Green could write a grocery list that’d make me think, though, so…. His scenes are always tainted with Aza’s thoughts, sometimes okay, some days harder to figure out, some other days a just impossible to stop. Her struggles made her relatable, human, I found myself feeling something for Aza right from the beginning and until the very end, wanting her to be okay. Thing is: she is not okay. Well, eventually, she will be. There is no magical cure, nor is there a magical relationship that saves her from her thoughts spirals. This just made the book even more realistic.
“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”
The side-characters for this story are really interesting as well. From Daisy, the best friend / nerd and very popular writer of fanfiction about Star Wars, to Davis, the childhood friend / rich book whose dad went missing… I liked them, I wanted to know them, I appreciated the time they had on the page and most especially the way they and the relationships they tried to forge or salvage with Aza had an influence on the whole story and Aza’s own trail of thoughts.
There’s a little mystery to this story, as to find the whereabouts of Davis’ dad, but mostly, Turtles All The Way Down is telling Aza’s story, a teenager’s life, with intense moments and an accuracy that only an #ownvoices kind of book can do when it comes to the OCD representation. It felt a bit different from all of the other John Green’s novels, a bit more intense, a bit more personal. It made me smile, sad, mad, it made me think and overall gave me all the emotions I eagerly awaited since I learned there was a new Green book being released. Obviously, I recommend it.
Final rating: It’s a hurricane!
Trigger warnings: self-harm.
John Green, Turtles All The Way Down, Published by Dutton Books For Young Readers, October 10th, 2017.
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.
Did you read Turtles All The Way Down? Did you enjoy it, why, or why not?
Do you want to read this book? Do you like John Green’s books or not at all? Never tried them at all?
Do you have any recommendations for books with great mental illness representation? Let me know in comments!