Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green


Mia Boudreau, Reporter

Bestselling, and award winning author, John Green, returns with his first book since the acclaimed The Fault In Our Stars (released in 2012).

His latest YA non-fiction, Turtles All the Way Down, tells the story of a teen in emotional anguish trying to navigate through high school whilst attempting to solve a missing persons case.

While investigating in the disappearance of local runaway, billionaire Russell Pickett, 16-year-old Aza Holmes reconnects with an old childhood friend, Davis Pickett, the the son of the missing billionaire.

Although most of the characters in the novel are unique to this story and very developed, Aza’s best friend, Daisy, is written in a very typical way. A various number of other YA books portray the main character’s best friend as lively, fun, energetic, and in some ways opposite from the main character. While her character depicts all of those common traits, and more, Daisy is, however, more developed than most sidekicks, with conflicts and a story of her own.

Other books of Greens have revolved around large issues like cancer, family dynamics, or death. His most recent book is no exception; Turtles all the Way Down narrates a story of mental illness.

This book gives a refreshing insight and intimate details on what it’s like to live with severe anxiety and mental illness that in most other areas of the media is shied away from and alienated.

The intense internal dialogues that the main character frequently has with herself depict a struggle that for some people is all to real, and for others, a one that they can begin to understand despite personally experiencing it.

The characters in this book are authentic and raw. Teen readers will find themselves being able to relate to the characters and some of the underlying and everyday problems they face.

Aza’s experiences with daily anxiety is so vividly depicted and well written that readers feel immersed in her struggles instead of merely informed of them.

In addition to Aza’s mental health struggle, she is also struggling to support her friend Davis, while trying to uncover the truth about his father’s disappearance.

To balance out the bittersweet, slightly darker theme of the book, small doses of humor are scattered throughout the story, breaking up moments of stress. This humor comes in the characteristic John Green style that his readers have come to love.

The majority of the story includes a lot of detail and insight, but the end of the book falls a little bit short. The conclusion feels rushed and unexpected, leaving readers wanting to know more.

Turtles All the Way Down is a read for people who like a little bit of mystery, and also the typical YA book content. While including both the experiences of an everyday high school student, Green also implements the element of mystery, and investigation that can keep readers interested, and engaged.

Loyal John Green fans will not find themselves disappointed in his latest work, instead they will feel inspired, and empathetic.