Turtles All the Way Down Review

Opinion on John Green’s latest novel


Photo by Noah Smith

Turtles All the Way Down starts off as your standard mystery and then proceeds to kick that plot out the window, instead offering a deep look at the struggles of living with OCD.This book gave me anxiety. Like honest to god, heart pounding, had to put the book down for a second, anxiety. That’s not a critique though.That’s good writing. Especially compared to other books in its genre. Now, I love  YA fiction, but you have to admit, some of it is kind of formulaic. Do you have a vague, probably dystopian, setting and a main character who’s different from all the other characters but extremely relatable to the reader? Then boom, you have a YA hit. Throw in a love triangle and you’re just golden. That is not the case for this book at all though.

It offers an interesting, thought-provoking take on a mental illness that the author himself struggles with. It continues this theme of going against expectations with the likeability of the characters. I personally didn’t really like any of the characters. I definitely didn’t dislike any of them but, in Harry Potter, for example, you love all the characters, you want to be best friends with all of them (excluding some very notable examples). In Turtles, that’s not really there.That doesn’t mean they’re badly written; it’s just that in some stories you don’t like the characters just because what they say makes zero sense. Not here, these characters are just human, average people with petty faults and that makes for an interesting book. 

As for criticism, it goes with the good writing, and it could just be my bias but the character’s speech is, in some parts, a bit unbelievable. These people speak poetry and prose constantly. Again, it could just be me but neither I, nor anyone my age whom I’ve ever talked to has been even half as deep and insightful as these people. I may just be talking to the wrong people. I’m such a big fan of what the author, John Green, does outside of writing. You may have seen his YouTube channels: Vlogbrothers or Crash Course; perhaps you have heard the podcast he does with his brother, “Dear Hank and John”.  Some points in the story don’t sound like the inner-monologue of a 16 year old girl, but instead, that of a middle-aged man. He’s an interesting man, so I don’t mind, but some might. Both of those complaints are minor though and I really enjoyed this book. So, if you haven’t read it, please do so. If you have, read it again.