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Presented by State Library Victoria

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green Book Review

I remember reading this book back last year in October thinking: “My gods I am NEVER picking this book up again” because I really really disliked it. I didn’t like the main character and thought the resolution of the plot was weak and it didn’t do the book any justice. Now, after reading it a second time and reading it quicker than I did back in October (note that I was a VERY slow reader and that a 288 paged book taken me longer than a week to read) but I guess now I appreciate this book a little bit more. I think that maybe John Green is better to read when you don’t linger on details for hours.

Anyway I am bumping up my review to 3 stars instead of my previous 2 stars.


I am not new to John Green, I have read The Fault In Our Stars earlier this year so I am used to his writing style and know that it is filled with smart metaphors and philosophical ideas. It was no surprise to find out that John Green continued as he did with previous books in Turtles All The Way Down. I was never really a fan of realistic fiction books (though I read them a lot) so I expected to not enjoy this book as much as, for example, the A Court Of Thorns and Roses series or any fantasy/magic novels.

Nowadays, the “character dealing with mental health” plotline has been used so many times it just seems as if I’m reading the exact same book. Look, don’t get me wrong I think that mental health being talked about more in books and in society is a good thing however, the main character Aza’s OCD became really overbearing sometimes.

Okay, but why was this a problem? Well if you read the blurb of the book, you would find out that the story is about a young girl called Aza who with her best friend Daisy go out and investigate the disappearance of billionaire Russell Pickett. Aza is trying to be a good daughter, friend and student however she is drowning in her thoughts (her thoughts spiralling down) about bacteria and C. Diff.

And that was the problem, the book was way too focused on Aza’s OCD instead of the actual Russell Pickett plotline. Without the whole Russell Pickett thing, I reckon nothing would’ve happened in the book at all. I expected a paper towns kind of book and unfortunately, I didn’t really get it.

But, let’s be positive here, the writing was amazing and John Green’s portrayal of mental health was incredible. He got anxiety on point (not that I ever experienced it to that extent) but it felt as if I really was in Aza’s “spiral” as well. In that sense, I reckon this book is extraordinarily powerful and meaningful to today’s society where such things affect people enormously.

Would I recommend it? Maybe, but only if you really are interested in these kinds of books and philosophical and metaphorical themes. I just didn’t think that John Green’s works are really for me. But of course I will still give Green a go!



This is a really interesting perspective! I actually think that this is John Green's best book by far, because Aza is closer to who John Green is. Green has talked about his struggle with OCD and he reflected accurately what it is like to struggle with it through Aza. This making the characters more rounded and real, however I have to say that he doesn't write plot, he writes emotions. This would be the main tipping point for the story, from being a murder mystery to a dark contemporary. Despite it being marketed as something it's not, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I'm really interested in reading Hank Green's YA debut as he is the science-y brother while John is the philosophical-existential-crisis-y brother, judging from listening to their podcast Dear Hank and John.
I can totally see why some people won't like TATWD as much as I do, but I think it's downfall was the marketing of it.

16th Oct, 18

Yeah I was really hoping for a crime/thriller novel but didn't expect it to be so much of a dark contemporary as you said. I'm still wanting to read more from him though :)

16th Oct, 18

In reply to sylvs

yes! im very excited to what he might write next, im hoping for him to delve deeper into storytelling through emotion rather then try and make an intense plot that's in the background. I think he would do that very well and would be soooo cool.

16th Oct, 18

In reply to rhapsody

Yeah especially since his writing is so good!!!! I'm super excited too :D

16th Oct, 18