Turtles All The Way Down (John Green)

My sister is a massive Fault in Our Stars fan. She uses “Okay” ironically. She will say something, and then roll her eyes dramatically when I don’t understand her reference (to be fair, I do the same for her with pretty much any Doctor Who or bookish reference that goes over her head.). Anyway, I digress. When my sister heard that I had downloaded Turtles All The Way Down by John Green for a song on my kindle, she made me promise faithfully that I would read it. Soon. I think the implicit understanding was “so I can read it” but as she doesn’t have a kindle and I have no intention of buying a hard copy, she’ll have to pootle down to her library.

(Unrelated, but I just wanted to say that last week I hit 100 followers! Welcome to all the new followers, if you have any recs or comments or anything, hit me up in the comments, or on twitter at @SimplyBeaH – I’m always down for talking about books)

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

Turtles all the way down, John Green

Turtles all the way down is John Green’s latest novel after a five year hiatus. It has a quirky cover with orange swirls that has caught my eye every time I *accidently* wind up in Blackwells.  It starts with a disappearance. The disappearance of a billionaire and a hefty reward for information leading to him being found. Aza and Daisy are best friends. Aza once knew the son of the missing billionaire. It’s a story of enduring friendships, time passing, and spiralling thoughts trapping you in your own head.

The narrative is told from the point of view of the main character, Ava. She has OCD and anxiety about germs, that forces her into spiral patterns of behaviour that are damaging. She is in therapy for it, and she recognises that her thought processes are not normal but also that she can’t stop them. It’s very interesting seeing her dynamic with Daisy, who has been her friend for years, especially when her inevitable paranoia about whether Daisy actually likes her kicks in. It is also really interesting seeing how Aza’s mental health issues influence her relationship with her mother (she feels it is stifling) and with her potential boyfriend (the billionaires son) who is a sad person who’s been through a lot,

Basically it’s very much what I imagined reading a “John Green” would be like in that teenagers ponder these big, existential questions with a bit of a sense of trying too hard… So while it’s a story about a missing billionaire, it’s really not. It’s a story about friendship, class, money, dating and spiralling thought patterns that turn into a vortex. I mean, I enjoyed it, but it ticked pretty much every pre-conceived notion I had about John Green books, despite having never read one before.

I teetered between giving this a 3 or a 4 star on Goodreads. It is good, Aza’s spiralling thought patterns put me on edge a bit, which I think was the whole point. Her though patterns are unnerving and I really liked how the narrative structure echoed that. But at the same time the missing billionaire plot seemed there just to give them a focus, or a reason for Ava to see the guy again. I don’t know what I was expecting from this novel, I did feel it was good, but also it was missing….something. So basically, this is a “middle of the road” review. It was good but I am not going to sit here with my cup overfloweth with emotions. I’ve read it, I can tick it off, and I’m glad I have read it, but I am incredibly unlikely to read this again.

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