First, I apologise for writing this one day late, but I actually can explain. I spent the entire day yesterday thinking to myself that it was the ninth of October and this book was releasing today, and only at the very end of the day did I see John Green himself say the book is out, on Instagram. That’s when I checked the date and realised the stupidity with which I wasted the entire day, especially after being in anticipation of this book for months.
Anyway, here we are. Turtles All The Way Down is John Green’s latest book, and is his first since The Fault in Our Stars, which came out way back in 2012.
I remember watching a vlogbrothers video, which dates back a few years, in which John said he was struggling to follow up The Fault in Our Stars and didn’t feel very confident about being able to write another book.
It is quite surprising, then, that he managed to create a masterpiece that somehow rises above all his previous work.
Turtles All The Way Down follows Aza Holmes, a high school junior who lost her father a few years prior and suffers from extreme anxiety, often descending into unforgiving thought spirals that have adverse affects on her life and the people in it. The story kicks off with the disappearance of a billionaire who lives very close to Aza, but is so much more than just a mystery.
As far as the conventional standards of a novel go, there isn’t a need for me to mention much. John Green consistently features great narrators that can speak to a reader on a personal, and a more metaphorical, level. This is something that is a staple with every book he writes; he has a deep understanding of adolescents and how an adolescent thinks.
When his narrators take it a step further, however, things get even better. The Fault in Our Stars, which had held my spot for his best book until now, is narrated by a cancer patient, and this was able to make the book more fragile and (honestly, I couldn’t think of a better word. I’m sorry) precious. This book is narrated by someone who suffers from a serious condition that, when it comes down to it, nobody except her can truly understand.
What is in store, then, is a story about friendship, family and love, all wrapped around – and strangled by – the narrators condition, and it is truly something unique to read. There hasn’t been a more intimate John Green book, nor one that puts you in the shoes of the narrator quite as much as this one (it does this so well, in fact, that you begin to think and feel exactly as you would expect the narrator to).
In doing so, it also can be quite painful to read at times, and if you read this book completely at once, like I did, it leaves you quite exhausted, and this is a compliment, because you understand Aza so well that you turn the last page, take a few deep breaths and wonder how she, and everyone in the world with similar symptoms, is able to handle what she goes through in this book all the time. It’s so merciless in its depiction of Aza’s condition that it is a powerful advocate to raise awareness about the difficulties of people suffering from mental health issues, and without meaning to sound too political, in an adolescent/school-reading demographic, books like this are essential.
This is also quite fitting because John Green has also said in numerous vlogbrothers videos (which are, obviously, the greatest things on the internet) that this book is inspired by his own experiences with Aza’s condition, and this makes you feel like you’re connected to the author as you read this book, almost as if, in a way, he is talking directly to you.
This is the rare book that you can develop a relationship with, and will stay with you for a long, long time.
Turtles All The Way Down is a book that will transcend decades and be looked back upon as an inspiration to both readers and writers, for its courage to be so relentless in its narration, and its raw ability to be human.
Take a bow, John Green.
On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:
Turtles All The Way Down: MIHIR