Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Book reviews

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

Release date: 10 October 2017
Rating: ★★★★★ – 5/10
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Turtles All the Way Down 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.

You know, I’ve started this review about 18 times in my head, but each time I just kind of erase it and then continue to stare blankly at the screen. Have you ever seen that weird 80s show Seinfeld? The premise is, that it’s a show about nothing. Just funny stories, or rather, stories told in a funny way. This book is kind of like that show, but without the humour.

The story follows 16 (17?) year old Aza Holmes, as she traverses a few months in her Junior year at school (I think?). The story is kind of non-specific and lacking in a lot of details. Mostly we get a very detailed look into Aza’s mind as she has kind of a serious anxiety attack over a few weeks (months?). There are other plot points around a murder mystery type situation (honestly, I could have told you where the body was after they found the note, but I’m also not trapped inside my own head 85% of the time).

I’ve got to say this, I didn’t really gel with the main character in this, Aza. For starters, you have absolutely zero idea what Aza looks like until about 160 pages in, and even then, all you get is that she is ‘scrawny’ and has long hair. That is it. In fact, no one really has any description. Davis has brown eyes, Daisy gets her hair cut into a bob, and Aza’s mum ‘looks like a 9th grade Math teacher’. I’m a visual person, I like to imagine the characters based on descriptions, and there were none, so that was kind of annoying.

The characters were good, though? I mean, they might have been? I’m not entirely sure. You really only get to see everyone from Aza’s point of view, and it’s kind of self-obsessed so I’m not entirely sure that you get a really full picture of everything that is going on.

What you do get though, is a pretty good insight into what it’s like to have such an eclipsing anxiety disorder. The germaphobe thing was kind of interesting, but also kind of hard to read. I understand what Green was referring to with ‘thought spirals’ (I have very mild OCD), but that was bordering on disturbing for me. I mean, it was interesting, and the story was good, I’m just not entirely sure it was for me.


  • thebookwormdrinketh

    Ha ha ha!! I completely understand your dilemma. It’s hard to figure out what to rate something that you couldn’t really figure out!! Those books that have you stating at a blank screen thinking “what the heck am I going to write about this??” and not necessarily because it’s BAD … More, that you do t really know if it was GOOD. I think that 6 was a very fair rating to go for.
    There was another blogger that I follow that reviewed this book and she didn’t even realize Aza was a GIRL for quite a bit into the book!

    • Meeghan reads

      Yeah I totally get that! Aza was a very androgynously described character. The whole thing was very surprising given his previous works as well. And I actually can’t justify making the rating higher because I’ve not thought about the book since putting it down either. Those books that elicit additional thoughts later sometimes get re-rated, but this one was like a blip on my radar and then went into stealth mode!! ??‍♀️

  • abucketfullofbookreviews

    I’ve never thought about it this way but your review has put words to what I was feeling the entire time I was reading. It was a great insight to OCD, but other than that, I couldn’t really see anything all that great

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