Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Book: Turtles All The Way Down

Author: John Green

Pages: 336

Read On: Hardback edition

Publisher: Penguin

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.In his long-awaited return, 

General Thoughts: A John Green book after ages! Like everyone else I was very excited to read something from Green. Plus this book had a slight mystery element attached to it and mental health and struggles with mental illness are an important part of the narrative. My excitement was super high to delve into this book.

Thank-you, Penguin for sending this book my way.
The book was sent to me for review but my thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!

Things I Liked:

1. The writing was typically John Green- smart, quirky, clever and uniquely his own. If you are a Green fan, this book is just the thing for you, it won't disappoint.

2. The depiction of mental illness in YA or in any other genre really is often watered down or altered slightly to fit in with the milieu of the book. Sometimes certain aspects of mental illness are made more palatable and easy to swallow, and what this does it make the mental illness in question seem nothing more than a trope, a prop and lose it's authenticity completely. I take writing on mental illness very seriously since this is what I have my degree on (I am a trained Clinical Psychologist). Nothing irks me more than poorly or incorrectly written descriptions of mental illness.
Mental illness isn't pretty. It isn't a character quirk. It isn't a prop to make a character seem real and lifelike. Mental illness is hard. It is cruel. It is crippling and debilitating. It kicks your ass on a daily basis. It is a part of you, some days a dominant part and on some a small yet significant part of your psyche.  In the hands of a less than competent writer, mental illness loses it's essence. But John Green makes Aza's OCD come to life in all of it's gritty and messy glory. Perhaps he is aided with his own struggles with OCD. His own experience and his own battle with obsessive thoughts has made Aza's life seem unflinchingly real. Hard to read in parts but so brilliantly lifelike.

3. Aza Holmes is her thoughts. She is her inability to control the route her thoughts take. But she is also more. She is a friend, a daughter, a teenager and she is also trying to be an amateur sleuth. Aza and her messy and spiralling thoughts will stay with you long after you put this book down.

4. It might sound silly but I really enjoyed reading about Aza and Daisy's internet sleuthing techniques. It seemed so real and something I am sure most of us at some point in our lives have undertaken.

5. I also really liked Daisy and I liked the friendship between Daisy and Aza. I liked that there was some squabbling and fights and resentments. Friendships, especially teenage friendships aren't all rainbows and butterflies.

6. I love books. Well, obviously I do. But I LOVE books that make me learn new things and make me see a situation in a new light. This book does that and so much more.

7. John Green is a clever man, you'd know this if you've seen any of his videos. The thing I love about this writing is that he talks about so many different things in this books. This book for instance, talks about art and constellations and animals and Star Wars and the whole time, Green doesn't dumb things down. He never, not for a minute talks down to his readers or insults their intelligence. This book really felt like talking to an intelligent person who has very diverse interests.

8. Even though the love story aspect of this book wasn't the biggest part of this book but I still really enjoyed the love/relationship bits of this book.

Things I Didn't Like: 

I did like this book, and I appreciated a whole lot, I really do appreciate it but ultimately I don't think I LOVED this book. This is an important book that talks about mental illness and living with a mental illness with grace and sensitivity. I cannot give it enough kudos for that.

BUT this was a hard to book to read. Too hard in some parts. Aza's swirling, and spiralling out of control obsessive thoughts while done really well were not my cup of tea and I found myself getting bored and losing interest rapidly. I just didn't want to read anymore about stomach bacteria!

I also found that some of the more 'philosophical' portions of the book just didn't hold my interest at all.

Rating: 3.5/5

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