TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN [REVIEW]

This is an archived review. For the original post, here’s a link to my old blog.

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“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, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 288 pages
Publish Date: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9780525555360

My Rating: 5/5 stars ★★★★★

 

TW: This book does portray OCD in a very realistic way so if that’s something you’re uncomfortable reading, I would stray away from this book.

 

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

All spoilers in this review contain BOLD brackets around the text like this [EXAMPLE]. Feel free to skip around these to avoid spoilers. 

Review

I’ve been thinking about this book a lot. The day after I finished it, it’s the only thing I thought about. I thought about it so much and how it impacted me, it was hard to handle. I told myself I’d write a review when I’m comfortable coming back to it with my feelings all together. They’re not and I don’t think they will ever be? This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I love it when books make me feel this way. These are the books that become my favorites. I’ve sat down and recorded a few videos of myself talking about it because no one had finished it yet and I needed to figure out what I’d say in my review. I had so many things to say, definitely on the spoiler-y end, but if I have to say anything, it’s that it was real and I loved it.
John Green has always written books that interested me. From Paper Towns and the wanderlust angst, to The Fault In Our Stars and the love it showed me. But they felt like stories to me. These books just felt like books and nothing more. I’d re-read them occasionally and meet with the characters again. With Turtles all the Way Down, I feel like I’m stuck with Aza. I’ll think about this book a lot. Whenever I’m having a “thought spiral,” I’ll probably think of the ending and maybe I’ll try to calm down. John Green has mentioned that this book is personal to him and you’re able to see feel that whenever you’re reading it.
Before I get too deep into personal thought, let me talk more about the book itself. We follow Aza, a girl struggling with OCD and her best friend Daisy, as they decide one day they’re going to try and solve the mystery of the billionaire who recently went missing in their town in order to receive the reward. A long the way, Aza gets in touch with the billionaire’s son, Davis, who she used to be friends with as a kid. Aza’s OCD is very much shown through her constant fear of disease or specifically, C Dif. Feel free to look it up. It’s complicated.
While I am going to talk about the characters and plot individually, I want to talk about her OCD and anxiety first. It’s obviously something very important to this book as we follow her life having OCD and we’re in her head a lot, just like she is in hers. You get to see the broken down rawness of her OCD a lot in the first chapter, which is a brilliant idea. Props to John because we refer back to that first chapter through out the entire book whether it’s mentioning the disease itself or her story life metaphor. The thoughts she has going on in her head are hard to read. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s difficult and frustrating because you feel like it’s your mind. It’s how mental illness should be displayed. John Green doesn’t dumb it down and he doesn’t make it look easy. It’s not romanticized, it’s unbearable. This aspect is important to me in a novel because the romanticization of mental illness is YA literature has been around for so long and as someone with mental illness, I want something real. The only reason this book was tough to talk about afterwards was due to the fact it made me think of my own anxiety. While she does have OCD and I can’t mention if he directly states anything about having anxiety, it’s definitely there in her actions at some points. There’s a scene that stood out to me and my anxiety where she tells him about a mathematician,

“I told him about this mathematician Kurt Gödel, who had this really bad fear of being poisoned, so much so that he couldn’t bring himself to eat food unless it was prepared by his wife. And then one day his wife got sick and had to go into the hospital, so Gödel stopped eating. I told Davis how even though Gödel must’ve known that starvation was a greater risk than poisoning, he just couldn’t eat, and so he starved to death… He cohabited with the demon for seventy-one years, and then it got him in the end.” (pg. 203)

I wish I could thank John personally for this. His writing style is so unique because of all these littles things and metaphors he’ll add in order to explain something that just make so much more sense than if you were to simply explain it. That’s one of the beauties of this book.
Now while this book does follow a mysterious plot, I think the most important and climatic scene in the book is Aza dealing with her OCD at the end of the book. Obviously, John mentions how “Mental illness is a story told in past tense” but THIS ONE ISN’T. Aza even talks about how she feels like she’s in some kind of story and how she’s the author and this isn’t past tense. [SPOILER: The climax to this book was definitely the part: where she’s in the hospital after the car accident and she swallows the hand sanitizer. I hate even thinking about putting hand sanitizer near my mouth and so does Aza but she does it anyway because she’s scared and she feels like she has to and so she does. This scene was absolutely heartbreaking because she rather die from drinking hand sanitizer than the possibility of actually getting C diff (the disease she talks about).]

Now, this book had excellent character development. I actually felt this book to be very character based and very much in their heads so the development is great. I’ve mostly already talked about Aza’s character development but now I want to quickly talk about Daisy. Daisy was honestly my favorite from the start. She’s a fanfic writer who’s dedicated to writing Star Wars fanfic and is actually quite popular online. She has some really good parts that just had me laughing out loud so I’m going to share some. There’s this scene where she’s talking about a boy who possibly likes her and she says he’s that vast boy in the middle,

“The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.”

or even the scenes where she’s talking about drawing the short stick and having to wear the Chuckie costume. That minimum wage teenage job struggle is real. (lol)

While I found her character hilarious and a great sidekick, the ending was pretty sad. [SPOILER: It hurt to read her fanfic when Aza realized there was a character very much like her and it was almost insulting. Yet, I think I understand Daisy. Yes, it was wrong but it can be hard to deal with people with mental illness but it’s never okay to treat them unfairly for it. She used her fanfic as an outlet and never thought Aza would make the connection. It hurt even more when she told Aza that “You don’t even really know me. What’s my parents’ names?” One of the worst parts is when she quoted Mychel,

“…you’re like mustard. Great in small quantities, but then a lot of you is. . . a lot.” 

which is even more heart breaking because a few pages beforehand, she thought, “I now saw myself as Daisy saw me– clueless, helpless, useless. Less.” ]

To finally wrap this up, (this review has been unfinished for awhile because wow, it was a lot), I really loved this book. I still stand by everything I said. I think this is John Green’s best book and I am nervous/excited for the movie version. If the ending of this book made me feel a certain way for days, I don’t know what the movie version is going to do to me.

If John Green is writing another book, I have no idea how it’s going to be as raw, relatable, and revolutionary as this one.

 

Have you read this book? Are you planning to? Let me know!

If you would like, here’s a little button to add it to Goodreads: Related image

 

 

 

Buy this book at your local bookstore

 

 

7 Novels Coming to the Big Screen

There’s been so much book to movie adaptation news recently that I couldn’t help but make a list of some that I’m incredibly excited for.

 

1. Moxie by Jennifer Matthieu

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About the Movie: Moxie by Jennifer Matthieu was recently Paper Kite, a production company owned by both Amy Poehler and Brooke Posch. To get familiar with the production company, try watching Broad Girls on Hulu. It’s the best. Right now, the movie stands in the pre-production stage and it hasn’t been shared who is writing the screenplay. The release date is unknown.

To learn a little more about Moxie, here’s the book description:

“Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.”

 

2. On the Come Up By Angie Thomas

downloadAbout the Movie: As you might already know, The Hate U Give was released in 2018 and raised 34.9 million USD in the box office. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas was picked up Fox who also adapted the Hate U Give. George Tillman Jr. is directing On the Come Up but there’s obviously no set release date yet.

To learn a little more about On the Come Up, here’s a description:

“Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families”

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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About the Show: Looking for Alaska was picked up by Hulu to be adapted into a mini-series. The main characters including side characters have already been cast. John Green has even made a video about them and with them on their Youtube channel, the Vlog Brothers. I’ll link them here. Miles is set to be played by Charlie Plummer and Alaska to be played by Kristine Froseth. Looking for Alaska had been owned by Paramount but they were apparently terrible towards John Green so now it’s not being made into a movie. It’s now being done by Hulu and I couldn’t be more happier. As for a release date, there isn’t one yet.

To learn a little more about the book, here’s a description:

“Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.”

4. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.indd About the Show: Amazon has picked up Daisy Jones & the Six to be a limited series on their streaming service, Amazon Prime TV. It has plans to be a 13 episode series made by both Amazon studios and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banner. To get a feel of Reese Witherspoon’s production, watch Big Little Lies. As for the music, it’ll be made exclusively through Amazon Music. I can’t wait to hear Daisy Jones & the Six! This was recently announced so there’s no casting yet or release date.

Here’s a little bit more about the book:

“Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.”

 

5. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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About the Show: The Grisha trilogy is coming to Netflix! This was announced earlier this year. The two books that were mentioned specifically are both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. I’m not sure how they will connect but they plan to have a series set in the “Grisha-verse.” As far as I’m concerned, the series will be around eight episodes. It’s being produced by Eric Heisserer, Shawn Levy, and Pouya Shahbazian. There’s no release date or no set cast yet.

Here’s the book description: 

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.”

 

6. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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About the Movie: I’ve been following this movie announcement for so long. I read this book whenever it had come out in 2014 and I was so nervous when I heard the movie was going to be released. It’s currently in post-production but has a cast, director, etc. It’s being produced by Echo Lake Entertainment and FilmNation entertainment but is to be distributed by Netflix. Elle Fanning was cast to play the main character back in 2014 but recently, Justice Smith was cast to play Theodore Finch. Jennifer is co-writing the screenplay with Liz Hannah. There isn’t a set release date but I’m guessing sometime this year or 2020?

Here’s a little more about the book:The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.”

 

7. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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About the Movie: Fox announced they own the rights to Turtles in December of last year. This is John Green’s most recent book release and apparently, his most personal. I read this book and loved it dearly so I can’t wait to see how it’s done in movie format. Hannah Marks, the youngest studio director in history, is directing this film. She’s 25. This is very early in the process so there is no set cast or release date!

If you haven’t read Turtles, here’s the description: “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, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.”

 

 

Now, movies are always uncertain so some of these projects could fall through. I have faith in them, though! I also want to note that there’s obviously so many more adaptations coming out but I’m most excited about these ones. I might end up making another post to share the rest.

 

Have you read any of these books? Are you more excited or nervous about the movie adaptations?