C.G. Drews's Reviews > Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, best-of-2017, contemporary, read-2017, mental-illness, young-adult

This was ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT and also gave me an existential crisis so thanks for that. I'm actually floored by how good it was. I mean, I haven't read a "new" John Green novel in forever, but this is worth the wait. I wasn't actually nervous going in. It's about mental health (#OWNVOICES I REMIND YOU) and missing persons and smol sad rich boys and everything about this just shouts that it's my kind of novel. It really really hit home so hard for me. I loved it.

OK note on the title: I see a lot of people complaining about the lack of turtles and like...I'm sorry but I'M LAUGHING. HAVE YOU NOT MET JOHN GREEN. It's a metaphor!! The title of the book being a metaphor is like perfect. (I mean no one complained about the towns not being made of actual paper in Paper Towns so I don't even get how everything thinks this is different.) THE BRAND IS ON POINT.

Anyway. Excuse me. I have an enthusiasm for this book.

+ OK so the plot was really amazing!
Bit slow but really really good. I loved that it wasn't rife with cliches or annoying tropes. It was just so pure almost. It felt actually real. It's not really a "detective" story (I thought it was going to be??) but Aza is lowkey curious about the mission millionaire because she used to know his son, Davis. She does a bit of digging, but she does more investigative work on Davis. So.

+ Aza was honestly amazing.
She is EXTREMELY quiet. She probably hardly ever talks and she's very much locked in her own head. And I HATE that that's a negative. Because be in your own head if you want, I say. I appreciated that she's quiet and that she thinks a lot. She's obviously extremely intelligent. ALL JOHN GREEN'S CHARACTERS ARE. I love how "pretentious" they are because I was 100% like that as a kid. Let's talk about the stars and metaphors and what poetry means and the infinite possibilities of death and life. The sheer amount of knowledge these kids spew out is just refreshing and perfect to me. I am HERE for smart people. (Also because I'm not one so it'sl ike??? Nice. Thanks. Let me osmosis the intelligence.)

+ The anxiety/OCD was really brutally and honestly talked about.
The only thing I'm angry about is that the word "OCD" is never used. I actually hate when books do this and it would've made me really upset reading if I hadn't already have known from listening to vlogs/interviews. I'm the kind of person who wants to KNOW and have solid answers. And I think OCD should've been stated because...liek this isn't your typical "oh she lines everything up and washes her hands 298 times a day" sort of OCD that books like to present. This is the real and brutal version of OCD. And the fact that we get like the thought-spirals and the psychology behind it is what is the BEST in my opinion. You are not watching someone with OCD, you are experiencing what it's like to have OCD while reading this book. And that's freaking important ok.

+ I have mixed feelings about Aza and Daisy's friendship tho...
I mean, I LOVED them as friends but then Daisy (view spoiler) Aaaanyway. Still (mostly) a good female-to-female- frienship that WASN'T built on obsessing over boys or being catty! YAS.

It was like SUCH a cute romance. Slow and cautious and fraught with problems just from Aza's OCD and Davis insurmountable grief. He was also the BEST big brother ever and I just... <3 <3 I loved how geeky and nerdy and beautiful he was. Honestly. DAVIS.

+ It's also really DEEP.
Like it talks psychology a lot and some of the metaphors were really intense and like wow. It was so layered. I LOVED it.

+ And yes I teared up at the end.
I mean. It's a John Green novel. I LOVED the ending and I hated it and I LOVED IT and just ajfdsakld I have at least 4 emotions which is double as many as I usually have. Goddamn. I'm not used to this I need to sit down.

ALL IN ALL: I think this is an absolutely deep and existential book that really discusses minds and who we are. It's sad and it's not sugar coated. Liking a boy doesn't make Aza "better" (lol @ that trope, John Green dismantles it SO WELL) and there's no messages that you need to be fixed to have a good life. Your mental illness isn't ALL of you, but it is some of you. And as someone who has anxiety disorders too, I really appreciated this. I appreciated the whole heckin' book.


Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you do.

(new favourite quote of ever)
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Reading Progress

October 17, 2017 – Started Reading
October 17, 2017 – Shelved
October 18, 2017 –
page 81
28.32% "This book is about sadness and anxiety and an inability to perform small talk, ergo I QUITE FIERCELY LOVE IT."
October 18, 2017 –
page 185
64.69% "This book is giving me a mild existential crisis. (IN A GOOD WAY.) (But I'm also exhausted.)"
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: 5-star
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: best-of-2017
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: read-2017
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: mental-illness
October 18, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 18, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-33 of 33 (33 new)

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message 1: by Riva (new) - added it

Riva  I bought it the first day it became available in my country and has been staring at it from my shelf for a couple of days now. Now I know I have to finally get on to reading it. Thanks for the review!

Lizzie Huxley-Jones I was so angry with Daisy's treatment of Aza 😭

augustecomte Well, the title is not exactly a metaphor - it's a Stephen Hawking reference ;) A science nerd meme. I mean - I haven't read the actual book yet, but I think I'm correct.

Tamara I love everything you said about this book! John Green is honestly one of my favourite people in the world and I've been looking forward to this so much! I finished it last night and loved it very, very much. I also think it's a bit weird OCD was never directly mentionned but the portrayal of it was the best description of OCD I've ever read. It made me understand it so much more.
Of course I also shed a few tears at the end... I just couldn't not cry

Rachel I love your review of this!! I didn't think about not calling Aza's mental illness by it's name as a bad thing. I thought that made it less of a label that she went by and made the point that it's just a part of her much more relevant. I understand your point though! It would've maybe broken people's stereotypes of OCD if it had been labeled.

C.G. Drews @Riva: YAYYY I hope you like it!

@Lizzie: Ikr?!? I think that conversation needed to be unpacked and dealt with. (view spoiler)

C.G. Drews @Crossroad-detective: Um...right. I hope you read the book at some point before telling me I'm wrong, mate.

C.G. Drews @Tamara: EXACTLY. It was like an actual REAL representation of OCD (and severe anxiety) and just I wanted it to use the word so people would know more about OCD. If you don't follow the vlogbrothers (which not all readers would!) then you won't ever know what Aza's condition really is. :( It had a really good chance to raise awareness but it didn't and I don't understand why!!

@Rachel: I don't think that labels are bad so for me I felt it was a disservice to a chance to actually educate people on what OCD REALLY is instead of like the world being full of the harmful stereotypes (like "oh she lines up her pens! she must be OCD!"...which need to stop).

Simant Verma Absolutely same feelings Cait. I loved it ❤️

message 10: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Simant: I'm so glad!!

message 11: by augustecomte (new) - added it

augustecomte I'm not telling you that you're wrong. I'm just sharing an interesting story, that you didin't mention in your review. I figured it might not be in the book. Sorry if you found it offensive.

message 12: by Dara (new) - added it

Dara I was on the fence about this one but yay it looks and sounds really good!

message 13: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Crossroad-detective: you mean sorry you were offensive

@Dara: I hope you get a chance to read it!! It's super amazing!

Sahana This was, like you said, absolutely brutal and I LOVED IT FOR THAT VERY REASON. "You are not watching someone with OCD, you are experiencing what it's like to have OCD while reading this book." This is what I've been trying to put in words since I finished TAtWD. #ownvoices for the win!! I also agree completely with your thoughts on Daisy's treatment of Aza. But I suppose it was also realistic, because this is how most people react to people with mental illnesses. I mean, it's shitty, but nonetheless true. Anyways, great review as always.

message 15: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Alice: Aww thank you! I find it SO hard to review these kind of books but I'm glad I managed to get across what I was feeling for this one. 😂 It makes allllll the difference when the author has experienced it too omg. And YES. Daisy's actions were realistic. It just would've been nice if it'd been more firmly addressed?? (Or maybe I'm horrible and unforgiving.😂)

Claire Great review! I agree that I would've really liked to see OCD named in this novel. I think it would be really useful to help people see what it's actually like. It's not all super tidy. :P But I'm so glad this book exists! I can't imagine how scary it must have been for John Green to put this book out into the world.

But the ending. I can't handle his endings. :'''(

message 17: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Claire: Omg I know right?! It must've been so personal. I understand why he took 6+ years. (THAT ENDING THOUGH.) And I think it would've been really really helpful to label the OCD. I guess maybe he didn't want labels? But I see them as ways to understand, learn, and actually find help for yourself....so I think it would've been good. ;_;

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Have you read OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu? Based on what you said about the OCD, I think you'd really appreciate that book.

message 19: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Christina: I haven't but I'll look it up. :D

Bookend McGee "Saying stuff like that to a mentally ill person underlines the horrible ideas that: (a) mentally ill people are too much work, and (b) you're being a gift from god to befriend them." THIS IS AN EXCELLENT POINT THAT YOU MAKE HERE - I totally agree.

message 21: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Bookend: I'M GLAD YOU AGREE!

sheharzad ⚘ (hiatus galore) from your review, it sounds like john green did a marvelous job of narrating mental illness. i have anxiety and panic issues, which i'm open to talk about, and having mental illness showcased and discussed the right way in books, especially YA books, always warms my heart. i'm glad you enjoyed the book and wonderful review as always 💕💕

Bhairavee Chitnis Agreed... I literally have the same emotions!

Shelby Elenburg I both agree and disagree about what Daisy said- it was brutal, but it was honest. As someone both with anxiety and friend to those with mental illness, I know how exhausting it is from both sides. In some ways I actually appreciated Daisy saying what she did- it would be refreshing to have someone say to me, “Sometimes being your friend is exhausting, but I’m your friend because I love you.” I know I’m exhausting, let’s not tip toe around the truth and make me anxious that I’m exhausting you and you’re hiding it from me! Ultimately I think it was written well, they did resolve it when they made up. We are all different in how we react to something like that, and while I read it as somewhat mean at the time, I also appreciated it for friends being open with each other and speaking their truths. It’s something I am quite literally working on every single day, and it is honestly making my relationships even better.

message 25: by Oscarliu (new) - added it

Oscarliu After I read this review I must say I would like to give it a try ;)
Awesome review as always! Keep it up! :D

Chloe Phillips This is an incredible review that basically sums up so many of my thoughts about this book !!!

Sally Townsend I kind of agree about the non-labeling of OCD, but also see why the author chose not to label it. I think naming it could have helped with the wider understanding of the condition. I can’t stand how many people flippantly call themselves OCD just because maybe they like a clean kitchen or some sh*t when it’s a real, painful thing that isn’t funny or a charming personality quirk to those who genuinely have it.

Disagree about the argument with Daisy though. I feel like this is real. People do get exhausted by mental illness, because it can become exhausting. And an author’s job is to tell a story, not make perfect fictional people, who are always kind and patient. I think that argument is actually pretty perfect, because like all great arguments, you can really get on board with one perspective and the other. And you can feel the guilt as well as the indignation from both angles. It’s brilliant. Plus, true friends fight and forgive and move on. They realise their friend love is unconditional. I think it speaks to the strength of their friendship and I’m glad Daisy wasn’t painted as the bad guy for her outburst - just shown to have a garden variety character flaw like the rest of us.

Love your review though and believe any opinion on books sparking debate on interpretation makes it all the more enjoyable and fascinating. That we can all read the same words and come out with different take aways is what it’s all about :)

Gabriela It showed a very difficult point of view from someone who fights against herself and can't escape her own thought

Zenki the Pixie Yeah, Daisy was SO likable up until that Ayala stuff and the fight before Harold died. It wasn't a hundred percent resolved in the end but I couldn't help feeling hopeful because she did start asking Aza about how it feels, about what happens in her thoughts, and it's a start, right?

Krista 100% felt the same about Daisy and Aza's friendship.

message 31: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth McCallum i couldn't agree more with EVERYTHING you said

message 32: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Beth: Thanks! <3

message 33: by Brin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brin I totally agree with how much you enjoyed this book. I went into it not really knowing what to expect or if I would even like it...and I loved it! It gave really good background on the feelings of anxiety and OCD.

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