I was thrilled to see that John Green was coming out with a new release. I usually struggle with keeping up with authors (there are so many of them and I’m more dedicated to their characters than anything else, unfortunately), but I was thrilled to see how prompt my library was at getting this in.
In one way, I think I set myself up for failure by subconsciously expecting another version of The Fault in Our Stars. I loved that book/movie very much. But Turtles All The Way Down is in no way meant to be a spinoff or even a vague cousin of Augustus and Hazel, and that’s okay.
Warning: here there be spoilers.
Mehhhhh, man. Usually, if I’m attached to the characters, I could care less if they’re taking on the death star, or cruising the grocery store aisles in search of vanilla extract. (I mean, plot twists that crush my heart are always welcome, of course.) But everything seemed like the most major coincidence?
Oh! Surprise! Look, a hundred thousand dollar windfall! Look, Mom, you were wrong, money dOES grow on trees. I realize it didn’t officially happen that way, and I realize that the money totally fueled a big theme between Daisy and Aza, but c’mon.
The fact that they never really took the plot in hand also bothered me? They were looking for a missing millionaire, and I expected some sort of girl-power sleuth thing. No. Daisy and Aza paddled down the river, played damsels-in-distress (I did love that scene, tho), and…things just stumble along till they magically find a dead body in a tunnel when they weren’t even looking.
I mean, I get that I read books to experience a different life, but….stumbling across a body in some freaky underground art gallery and a hundred thousand dollars? Even Sherlock Holmes wasn’t that lucky.
Following the ups and downs of Daisy and Aza’s friendship was so great. They go through ups and downs, supporting each other and hurting each other, falling apart and back together. They both maintain their own separate personality, and they clash sometimes. It was good to watch them come apart, back together, and weather the rough spots of a friendship without a platonic breakup.
Otherwise, I was disappointed that I didn’t ship Davis and Aza at all. If I had, I think the theme would have hit home so much more. But I really didn’t care? It elicited a big amount of emotion when Aza’s anxiety + OCD threw a curveball into any sort of romantic attachment, which was a whole different facet that I had never even considered. But there was no shipping going on in my corner of the reading world.
The theme here wasn’t screaming out from the pages like it did in The Fault in Our Stars. There were a few themes here.
Firstly, that you are not the thoughts in your head.
Secondly, that no amount of external wealth or Romantic relationship can fix any sort of mental illness.
My favorite part of John Green’s books, hands-down, is the way he handles theme. He can encapsulate in a few short sentences of dialogue that stem naturally from the characters’ problems, and exactly how they would say them. Their discussion hits right at the heart of the theme, and it’s always achingly true. One instance is:
“…you realize, love is not a tragedy or a failure, but a gift.”
This was after Davis and Aza separated due to a necessary move. Sometimes it seems like a waste to love people, but sometimes friends and love aren’t meant to be forever. Sometimes they are. But loving someone is never a failure, it is always a gift. Summing it up like that was my favorite part of the entire book.
All in all, I wasn’t really thrilled with this book. I do understand that the information about anxiety + OCD is important (and eye-opening! I’ve never read a book with that sort of thing, and it’s a much easier way to educate people in empathy and information than slapping a textbook down).