Book Review – Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (Penguin Books) ISBN: 9780241335437

A new John Green book is an event in the publishing world, and Turtles All The Way Down is the best-selling young adult author’s first book in six years.

Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old teenager who lives with her mother in Indianapolis. She has a group of friends at school, including her slightly off-putting (at least to me) best friend, Daisy.

Aza and Daisy decide to search for Russell Pickett, a missing billionaire, in the hope of collecting a $100,000 reward. Aza used to know Russell’s son, Davis. They begin to get to know each other again.

I found this a difficult read. The book is really about Aza’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how the mental illness affects her. John Green depicts it really well, but it’s hard to sustain this as the focus for a novel. The search for Russell was an attempt to create a plot, but it doesn’t really work.

If you want to read about believable teenage friendships and love interests, and Star Wars fan fiction, and if you want to find out more about OCD, you will like Turtles All The Way Down. 

Amanda Patterson


Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (Penguin Books) ISBN: 9780241335437

After the overwhelming success of The Fault in Our Stars, it took Green six years to write a new novel.

The story is about Aza (her parents choose that name because you can go from A to Z and back) who owns a car named Harold and has a friend Daisy who writes Star Wars fan fiction. They will try to get the cash reward for information leading to the whereabouts of a missing billionaire. Aza happens to know his son who she met at Sad camp after she had lost her father and he had lost his mother.

The title represents the idea that the world is supported by a chain of increasingly larger turtles that continues indefinitely. It refers to Aza’s spiral of compulsive thoughts. Aza has a phobia for the bacteria Clostridium difficile and she has to repeatedly open a wound on her finger to re-sanitise.

Even though Green writes well and appeals to young and old, the subject of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder has taken over the plot completely. It’s no longer a mystery to be solved, but a book about mental health. Also important, but it would have been better if Green had not let the plot slip.

Pauline Vijverberg

Posted on: 27th November 2017