“Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down
When I first joined the digital book community, one author that I saw floating around A LOT was John Green. My Instagram timeline was inundated with John Green books. Honestly I never got into the fandom of Green and never felt an urgency to read any of his books. I saw the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars on cable TV which was good as well as Papertowns which I disliked immensely. If you are a part of the wonderful world of bookstagram then you already know how contagious other people's excitement can be.
I saw Turtles All the Way Down making its rounds in the community and the subsequent accolades for this book so I decided to give it a go! I read it with my good friend @elathebookworm which made it all the more enjoyable, but both of us agreed that we didn't love it. Peep the synopsis below!
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Right from the beginning, what I love about this story is the way Green details, so vividly, the mental illness of the main character, Aza. She is diagnosed with anxiety and OCD and throughout the story her thoughts constantly spiral hence the title. The way Green writes her disorder is completely raw and honest. No where in this book does he tip toe around it. I feel I learned more about OCD or at least a different form of it from the main character. Obviously a YA book is not going to inform me as well as other sources, but it's still eye opening. I remember watching TV segments about people with OCD and it always seemed to focus on excessive and repetitive behaviors, for sensationalism I'm sure, and never really delved deeply into the thoughts of a person suffering from this disorder.
Aza's relationship with Daisy, her very outspoken best friend, is interesting. They both seem to be very mature teens which I greatly appreciate in a YA book. Green wrote both characters with the right amount of edginess and angst to balance them out and not make them annoying. I love the connection between the two of them. Daisy kept me laughing the whole time because she is such a feminist and very blunt. She's a free spirit and Aza's antithesis. Daisy even called Aza "exhausting". As I was reading I kept imagining having a friend with this severe disorder and I can completely understand where it could be exhausting. Not having an understanding of it or what Aza was going through frustrated Daisy and it came out in the things she said. Aza was constantly in her head so it made her appear self absorbed.
One of the most riveting facts about Daisy is that she writes Star Wars fanfic which she blabs about incessantly, but she also inadvertently attaches how she REALLY feels about Aza to one of her characters. This causes a strain in their relationship later in the story.
Daisy and Aza decide that they want to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Russel Picket. He happens to be the father of Davis Pickett, a guy Aza grew up and went to school with. I found this plot to be a bit weak. I really feel this entire story could have been about this young girl, with OCD and how it affected the people around her. Green writes her disorder in a way in which that alone could have been the story with a different plot possibly. There isn't a connection for me between the mysterious death of Russel Picket and Aza'a disorder.
“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.” ~ John Green, Turtles All The Way Down
Davis pays Aza and Daisy $50,000 each to not continue their investigation. Even after receiving the reward, they continued to explore and dive into details surrounding the case and they eventually discovered where Davis's father was based on clues and hints from Davis's old blog posts. I am left with lingering thoughts about the details of Mr. Picket's disappearance. He left everything to a tuatara in his will based on some kind of research that suggests it is the answer to immortality. He left nothing to Davis and his brother which made me wonder where Davis got $100,000 to pay Aza and Daisy *scratches chin*.
In the end the police discovered Mr. Picket's body because Aza reluctantly tells Davis where he is and Davis calls the police himself. The police report says Mr. Picket died of exposure, but there are no further details about what exactly happened to him or how his body ended up where it was. I would have liked a back story. I am torn between this book being about a possible murder or suicide and the two teen girls who are determined to discover the truth or a girl with OCD and how she copes with it. There seems to be so much missing from this story.
I did love Davis who was very laid back and I fell in love with the writing from his blog which was the highlight of the book for me. I am happy that there wasn't a sappy happy ending with Aza and Davis, but because of the very weak plot I can't say I loved it.
My Rating 3/5