• Hannah Cartwright

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Contains Spoilers!

I’ll be honest, I only bought this book because it was written by John Green. Had it been by another lesser known author, I don’t think the story would have really grabbed my attention so much. But as I’ve read all his other books a few years ago (and loved them) I had to give this one a read.


While I didn’t dislike the book, I wasn’t overly engrossed in it. A good book for me is one I can’t put down and just want to binge read all day. I didn’t get this feeling with TATWD. I found I was picking it up and putting it down a lot until eventually I bit the bullet and finished the last 100 or so pages yesterday afternoon.


I think my reason for not overly loving it at the start was mostly because I felt I’d been set up for an adventure story: two best friends off to find a millionaire. I expected a detective, mystery story but the mystery appeared to end pretty early on in the novel with Davis paying the girls to stop looking for his father. While the mystery of his whereabouts was a constant element to the story, it wasn’t what the story was about. This left me feeling a little lost around the middle of the book, not really knowing where it was going, which is where I really lost the motivation to read it.


However, once I persevered with it, I started to realise what it was really about: Aza’s mental health and the affect this had not only on her, but the people close to her. It was about love, friendship and loss. The love between friends and family, and the loss of loved ones. The other elements of the story appeared more as just a platform in which John Green could showcase these relationships and the difficulties imposed on them by Aza’s mental health.

Regardless of what the story was about, I think the way Aza’s illness was portrayed was in depth and clear to understand. The use of the inner voice which consumed the pages as it consumed Aza’s mind gave just a small glimpse of what this may feel like, to argue with yourself and not be able to win. I also liked the use of the Band-Aid on Aza’s finger, reminding us that her illness is always present.


Overall, I would rate this book three out of five stars. I enjoyed it, once I understood where the story was going but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to pick it up again. I would recommend this book to other John Green fans but with the caution to not go into it with too many expectations.


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