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Turtles All the Way Down
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Turtles All the Way Down > Question #4: The Mystery

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited May 22, 2018 03:42PM) (new)

How did you feel about the mystery component woven throughout the narrative?
Did you find that this element was an unnecessary addition, or do you feel that it helped provide more insight into Aza’s mental state?


Jaime Grover (jaimborainbow) | 23 comments Mod
I do sort of feel like the mystery got a bit lost in the narrative, but I actually don't feel bothered about that. Because the book is from Aza's perspective, it doesn't feel unreasonable for the mystery plot to become convoluted since Aza is struggling with her mental health and things are becoming convoluted for her as well. So, no, it doesn't feel unnecessary to me, because it does provide more insight into Aza's mental state.

Although the book is overall about mental health, it makes sense to me that there needs to be a story element in order for the characters to learn and grow. It was definitely on the cheesy side, but I personally didn't mind it at all!


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I do feel that the mystery element went too far to the unbelievable side. I found the Pickett family's situation to be too strange to be true - the father leaving all his money to a lizard, for example. And then Aza and her friend getting all the money from Davis was too much. I think the plot would have been better if it showed how people living within normal means and circumstances could overcome their mental health problems and prevail. It could have been just as interesting, if not more. I read The Fault in Our Stars, and found certain elements of that book to be far-fetched as well, especially regarding the girl's illness and treatment. So the tendency to over-dramatize may be John Green's style. It's unfortunate because I think this book is at its best when it's being realistic and authentic.


message 4: by Maureen (new)

Maureen B. | 212 comments I agree, Susan. It's a good story but the mystery element was too over-the-top for me. I think it diminished Aza's truly moving struggle with OCD. Then again, stories around mental health issues are often sad and dreary tales with few happy endings and perhaps Green wanted to create something more positive that would reach a wider audience.


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Maureen wrote: "I agree, Susan. It's a good story but the mystery element was too over-the-top for me. I think it diminished Aza's truly moving struggle with OCD. Then again, stories around mental health issues ar..."
Good points, Maureen. And I suppose the sub-plot helped to keep me reading. I wanted to know how it ended even if it was far-fetched.


message 6: by Rocio (new)

Rocio (rociofarrell) | 64 comments I agree with Susan, I found the plot unrealistic and predictable since the beginning. I found it quite weak in parts. However because the description of Aza's character was so real and interesting I kind of gave the plot a second place and focused on the characters. I understand that the novel needs a plot but a more realistic one would have worked better for me.


Natalie I do think the mystery plot was pretty far-fetched, but I also agree with Jaime that it followed Aza's mental state. It was convoluted and exagerrated because that's how she views things.
I also liked that the book was addressing a serious topic, but had this fantastical plot. Using this slightly bizarre mystery plot to showcase living with mental illness is, I think, a good way to normalize mental illness. Saying "This is a mystery book with a character who happens to have OCD" versus saying "This is a book about a character with OCD" puts it in a different light. The fact that Aza has OCD is obviously an important factor, but having the bizarre mystery plot makes it more accessible to all readers and makes mental illness seem more normal.


Jaime Grover (jaimborainbow) | 23 comments Mod
Rocio wrote: "I agree with Susan, I found the plot unrealistic and predictable since the beginning. I found it quite weak in parts. However because the description of Aza's character was so real and interesting ..."

Great points, Rocio, Susan, and Maureen! I see where you're all coming from about it being perhaps too unrealistic. It's possible that I'm just used to the way that John Green writes because I didn't feel surprised or disappointed by the more surreal elements of the story myself. So maybe in that way, it's simply a matter of preference!

I love your point, Natalie, about how this is a mystery book with a character who has OCD, rather than a book about a character with OCD. That's definitely the way that I think of it, as well. Just like when there is an LGBTQA+ character in a book, movie, play, etc., it is so often used as a plot point rather than just another element to a character, which only further ostracizes instead of normalizing. So I do, in that way, find Turtles All the Way Down to be a refreshing way to approach talking about mental illness!


message 9: by Dana (last edited May 18, 2018 08:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dana (dkmckelvey) | 51 comments The mystery element of this book was the thing that kept me away from it in the first place - I don't know why but it just didn't interest me. But I was glad to learn that the story was more about Aza and Pickett was more in the background. Also, the way it ended really angered me, what a selfish man... like really couldn't leave any money to your poor sons? ugh

I didn't really feel like it gave more insight into the mental state - so it seemed like just a random story to me. But I agree with the point above that it was nice there was a story with an OCD character, I just think it could have been a better "mystery" maybe. It was just an OK book for me, apart from learning more about OCD, I enjoyed that.


message 10: by Olivia (new) - added it

Olivia | 13 comments Mod
Dana wrote: "The mystery element of this book was the thing that kept me away from it in the first place - I don't know why but it just didn't interest me. But I was glad to learn that the story was more about ..."

I can see how the mystery element might have been a little off-putting Dana. I'm also in the group of people who weren't overly interested in that element.
But how cool is it that the book is so character driven that the plot doesn't even seem that important to the story's progression!? I absolutely loved that the focus was on Aza instead of the mystery.

As for your anger about the ending, we'll be posting a question in the next week about the story's conclusion so we'll definitely have a chance to explore how everyone felt about it :)


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