“We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter because we were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe even more intimate than eye contact anyway”
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.
♡ This is a spoiler free review.
I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with John Green; some of his books I’ve absolutely loved and others I couldn’t even finish. So it’s only fitting that Turtles All The Way Down was a bit of a love/hate book for me – I absolutely loved the OCD representation, but the rest of the book and most of the story unfortunately just fell flat for me. As many of you know Turtles All The Way Down is an #ownvoice novel; something which I was extremely excited about and the portrayal of OCD was really spot on! Green really goes into extreme detail when it comes to Aza’s tightening spirals and invasive thoughts – it was raw, powerful and extremely real! I really admired the representation, but unfortunately that is where most of my admiration stopped.
Turtles All The Way Down was a very character driven novel, but sadly the characters didn’t have much to offer and it was hard for me to form any kind of bond or relationship with any of them. Aza doesn’t have a whole lot going on besides her inner fears and invasive thoughts, we never learn who she is “behind” her OCD and it’s hard to like a character if you don’t know a character. The same goes for Daisy – Aza’s best friend – we know that she’s her best friend and we learn a little about her home life, but we never really find out who Daisy is. Davis was just a bit too philosophical and poetic for me, he reminded me of almost every other male character John Green has ever created.
The writing was very reminiscent of his previous books – gripping and lyrical, sometimes bordering on too lyrical. Another thing that made me feel a bit uncomfortable was the use of the word crazy; Aza referred to herself as being crazy multiple times (way too many times) which I found to be a tad unhealthy and offensive. I did however appreciate the fact that Aza did go to therapy and that she was trying to find the right medications for her. I was seriously impressed with the intensity of Aza’s OCD, but the rest of the plot was boring and the ending felt anti-climatic and did not satisfy the mystery lover inside me.
This was a very hard book for me to review; I have really enjoyed some of Green’s previous novels, but I think that most of his books follow the same recipe, ultimately leaving me wanting more. If you’re in search of excellent OCD representation and if you’re a die hard fan; then I’m sure you’ll love this book. I unfortunately think that it is time for me and Green to go our separate ways.
♡ Content Warning: Death, OCD and Self Harm.
♡ Thanks so much to Penguin Random House South Africa for sending me a copy, this has in no way affected my opinion.