Mixed feelings for Turtles All The Way Down
John Green's latest novel hits the highs and lows of staffer's taste.
December 11, 2017 •
Filed under A&E
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New York Times bestselling author John Green released Turtles All the Way Down, his first novel in five years, since his extremely successful The Fault in Our Stars, in October. There was an enormous amount of hype surrounding the release of Turtles, and it is sure to be on many teens’ wishlists this holiday season, but does it live up to Green’s previous work?
The story focuses on 16 year-old Aza Holmes and her best friend Daisy, as they investigate the disappearance of local fugitive billionaire, Russell Pickett, and Aza’s relationship with his son, Davis Pickett.
Aza suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which greatly affects her decisions throughout the novel. Green also suffers from this condition, which is part of the reason why this project was especially important to him.
At first, it seems like the plot will focus on Aza and Daisy tracking down the lost billionaire, but this idea sort of dies about a quarter of the way through the novel. It becomes more like a diary of Aza’s thoughts and how her condition affects her.
Personally, I think the novel had potential to be a good adventure story where Aza and Daisy use their amateur detective skills to find clues that will lead them to Pickett, and then end up having some big confrontation with him.
Instead, Green focuses on Aza’s internal struggles and a little bit of how they impact Aza’s developing relationship with Davis. The Pickett ordeal is more of a background story that doesn’t have much connection to the main characters.
The whole idea of a fugitive billionaire disappearing is a good plot, but it is such a big thing that it seems like it deserves to be the main focus of a novel instead of having to compete with a character’s struggles with a mental disorder, which is just as big of a plot arc.
Either would have made a great story on their own, but putting both plots together in one story becomes a bit overpowering.
With that said, I found it very interesting to read a story narrated by a person with OCD and it gave me a better idea of what conflicts people with disorders face.
Throughout the book Aza is influenced by this little voice in her head that exploits her insecurities and doubts. The voice often persuades Aza to do things that she knows she shouldn’t which has a very negative impact on her life. I thought this was a wonderfully unique way of telling a story.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel and I think that fans of Green’s previous works will like Turtles All the Way Down, but that they should know to expect a character’s philosophical journey–not an adventure.