Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Part of Series? No
Goodreads Blurb: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.
So, this is weird. I have never ever written a review immediately after finishing the book. And while I am writing this, it is 1:30 AM here! Can you believe it? This book just made me crazy and I have like multiple thoughts running wild into me like spirals (yeah I am using the line from this book) and I want to share all those thoughts into this post, right now. Yes, I can’t wait to write it because I don’t want to miss anything that I am feeling right now. And pardon me before you go any further, this is going to be my longest review ever because-
- I have multiple feelings cloaked into my brain right now
- John Green is amazing
- and whatever I say about his writing is always less
- I want you people to discuss those feelings with me.
If you have been following me on social media and on this blog for quite a time then you must know that John Green is one of my favourite authors. I just love his writing. Now here, I must admit that I HAVEN’T read all his books. I had read- a) TFIOS (it was my favourite until today), Looking for Alaska (loved it), started An Abundance of Katherines but then left it after 50 pages (will pick it later on). And now when I finally read TATWD, I can say it is definitely BETTER than TFIOS. Yes, I just SAID it. This is John Green’s best work in my opinion. I know many people don’t like his work but it’s their own opinion. But if you call yourself a John Green’s fan, then you are incomplete without reading it. NOTE IT.
AM I SOUNDING TOO EXCITED? 😀 Because I am!
I am going to write this review in a different format today. Generally, I go over the plot, then my review, why I liked the book, why I didn’t etc. But today, I am going to just talk about the main highlights of this book that what it has to offer you, the reader, and why this could be the best work of John Green. Let’s dive into the possible reasons.
10 reasons you should definitely read TAtWD
1. Beautiful Plot
John has a way of creating beautiful plots (just keep in mind that I am only talking about the books that I have read). This plot was not anything else but better. It was a little slow plot, I agree, but nothing like to lose your interest in it. It was really good. The main reason is the lack of dramatic things and so called YA cliches or typical tropes. It was just so real. It was a story told like our everyday story, like the real one. Though the blurb gives a hint of this being a detective story, which is true for some part, it is mostly the behaviour of Aza. She and her friend Daisy decides to find the fugitive millionaire Russell Pickett so that they can get the award money. Aza was friends with Pickett’s son Davis in childhood, so when she meets him again, a new kind of relationship starts. Though she did some digging about his father, it was mostly about Aza.
2. Realistic characters
Believe it or not, John‘s characters are always beautiful and real. Aza’s character was really amazing. She is quite and talks so less. I thought, at some points, that she was like me because I too talk less, well, mostly. It made perfect sense to make this character quite so that readers can see the inner feelings of her. While she is just listening to others, she often keeps talking to her mind.
Davis’s character also feels real. He is not like a typical rich urban boy in love with money. Instead, he is a normal boy having a troubled relationship with his rich father, who happens to leave him and his brother. The way Davis expresses his thoughts to Aza, the concerns he shows towards his younger brother and the way he cares for him, all show that he is a pretty simple boy. He is super adorable and I loved his character.
Another interesting character was Aza’s best friend Daisy. Though she convincingly loved Aza, we actually come to know later her actual feelings. Through her fan-fiction of Star Wars, she actually shows how she thinks of Aza. But later she explained her reasoning that it is not an easy task to handle a friend having anxiety issues. I can actually feel Daisy. I mean, I know everyone wants a normal friend so that their friends are not any burden on them, so it was actually kind of justified for her to have those feelings? But yes, there was actually too much negativity in her mind for Aza then there should actually be, which I didn’t like. But the real characters are like so, aren’t they? I loved how they both made up at the end with each other.
Honorary mention: The relationship between Aza and her car Harold (yes she named it). Have you ever encountered persons in real life who have imaginary relationships with objects? Yes, it feels real, right? When Harold was broke down, Aza was devastated like a real person would be if (s)he has any such relationship with a mere object.
3. Amazing quotes, as always
John Green is a writer whose specialty is giving you some amazing quotes to remember. TFIOS is the book which has the most number of my favourit quotes that I can actually remember. TAtWD surpasses that in that department too. There are so many good lines that I want to share with you but probably I’ll save that for another day (probably share in my Quotes Friday post). But a few favourites are here:
Your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell. Of course, you pretend to be the author. You have to..You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.
Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.
You’re both the fire and the water that extinguishes it. You’re the narrator, the protagonist, and the sidekick. You’re the storyteller and the story told. You are somebody’s something, but you are also your you.
Tell me, aren’t these have capabilities to be your favourites too?
4. The use of technology
Okay, so I must admit that this is a point that really impressed me and I was glad to see that many reviewers have highlighted it too (because it’s highlight worthy). In most of the YA and movies, do you remember seeing (or reading) the scenes where the phone actually gets off whenever there was something important to convey, or the person usually forgets his/her phone etc? I really hate these kinds of tropes, because in real life I don’t think that this is actually what happens every f****ng time. Is it?
I really appreciate John that he hasn’t included any of these tropes. Actually what John included was something advanced and I really enjoyed reading it. Though most of the advanced technologies were used in Davis’s house (because he was rich), but still they were worth mentioning, like-
- removing the pool cover by just tapping on a phone app
- opening a home theater by just touching a book’s spine (that was really cool!)
- tapping a button on phone to record your message and echo in the whole house (Huh, interesting?)
There were many other good examples too which really showed how a YA author can show the technology better in their novels.
5. Mental Illness was brutally talked about
This is the main motif or the borderline for the whole novel and let me tell you, John has dealt it with brutally and honestly. He himself suffered from OCD so it makes more sense to read a story about this from an author suffering himself. But yet, I really want to appreciate that how John has actually presented it. During some scenes, I was feeling like I too have that thing- like I was feeling Aza, what she was going through. I could understand her anxiousness, her trouble with OCD.
Aza had an obsessiveness with C. diff bacteria. She was even scared from kissing her boyfriend because all she could think was that it would transfer some bacteria in her and then she will be infected.
I was revolting, but I couldn’t recoil from myself because I was stuck inside of it. I thought about how the smell of your sweat isn’t from sweat itself, but from the bacteria that eat it.
It was really scary reading this thought and others. Can you imagine, how a person can cope up with such anxieties? I felt really bad for Aza. And John made us feel bad her. He presented the very reality of OCD, the mind process o the person suffering for it. yes brutally. he didn’t just explained a few lines and then moved forward with the story. This was, in fact, his story- taking readers to the mind of the defective person. I would say, BRAVOS John, you really did it.
6. Normal conversations
I really like the plots where there are normal conversations and this novel has perfectly used it. There are message conversations like we do with our friends on phone and reading them makes you feel like you are just talking to your real life friend. Then there is the use of normal words in conversations like today’s generation like to talk IRL. There were repeated words like “You know” etc. which happens to be included in our real lives so reading those doesn’t feel awkward.
7. John’s extensive research/knowledge about various other fields
This is a quality about John’s writing that I have appreciated in each of his novels that I have read. He does an extensive research on each of the subjects that he includes in his novel. For eg, In Looking For Alaska, he talked about the last words of famous people. I was really impressed by this unique thing. Later I found out that it was his real hobby too. In TAtWD he has talked about the constellations and stars. Also, there is a whole big damn thing about Tuatara. I mean who the hell knew what a Tuatara was? I certainly didn’t.
It is clearly visible that he gives a whole lot of research about various other fields. These things not only just makes the story makes interesting, but also provides some knowledge to the readers (it is okay if you skip those parts, I guess). I actually Googled what a Tuatara is during reading the book 😀
8. Cover and title
Okay, so at first glance, the title doesn’t reveal anything about the plot, so it may seem confusing to all (it does to me too in beginning). But I think that’s the beauty of it. As you progress through each chapter and you are closer to end, then only you come to know that what exactly it says!
I didn’t know that it is some kind of proverb so I googled it. According to Wikipedia:
“Turtles all the way down” is an expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox. The metaphor in the anecdote represents a notion of the model that Earth is actually flat and is supported on the back of a World Turtle, which itself is propped up by a column of turtles. Questioning what the final turtle might be standing on, the anecdote jokingly concludes that it is “turtles all the way down”.
I am not sure if you knew about it or not, but certainly, for me, it was a new term to know. Also, later in the book, Daisy told Aza:
It’s turtles all the way fucking down, Holmesy. You’re trying to find the turtle at the bottom of the pile, but that’s not how it works.
So for me, the title made perfect sense. Also, look at the beautiful cover. It is kind of a metaphor for Aza’s thoughts. I must say John is a man of metaphors 😛
9. Perfect Ending
I mean, it’s a John Green novel. You know how most of his endings end- in an imperfect, yet perfect way. This was not different either just that no one died. I both loved and hated the ending. Loved because it was the most mature thing to leave the characters at that level. I loved that how Aza was not cured in the end like a happily ever after. It made it more practical. I hated it because I wanted to see something for the relationship of Davis and Aza. But I loved it for that too. Ahh.. I am confused. Either way, the ending was perfect.
10. Because it is just John
No doubt about it. Just read it because it’s John Green. He has amazing writing skills, has given amazing plot with beautiful characters and some quotes to remember for a lifetime. What else do you need?
I can say, I am A JOHN GREEN FAN FOREVER.
I would recommend this to each and every one whether you like John Green or not. Just read it. It is an absolutely deep, thought provoking book with hidden agenda of crushing your heart and make you think of your existence. TAtWD is sad and yet happy. It is not fake, it is just real and raw with true feelings. It teaches you how to cope up with mental illness and still go on with your life, because “It is okay not to be okay“.
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green- Just read it. It’s deep and thought provoking,sad and yet happy. Teaches you ‘It is okay not to be okay’
A fun fact
This is the most highlighted book for me till date. Gosh, there were so many good lines!
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Have you read this book yet? What do you think? Are you planning to read it? Do you like John Green? Which is your favourite book by him?