“Turtles All the Way Down” will go down as a powerful modern novel


Janitza Luna

John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is a must-read and fills the readers with philosophical questions and answers.

   On October 10, John Green released his latest young adult novel, Turtles All the Way Down. This novel is his first published book in six years since the critically acclaimed work, The Fault in Our Stars.

   Green’s novel focuses on a female protagonist and the few significant people in her life. The readers follow the life of Aza Holmes, a 16 year-old who suffers from severe anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder along with other complexities of a teenage life. The audience also meets Daisy, her quirky best friend, and Davis, her nerdy romantic interest.

   Turtles All the Way Down addresses intriguing existential questions about life and death. By using alluring word choices and metaphors, the author portrays philosophical moments that absorb the reader and leave them with a distinct message. The repeated themes of death and disappearance in his other books appear again in his latest novel alongside conjectures of suffering, love, and Star Wars.

   Green develops the idea of platonic love within friendships in this novel as the best friends go through their own highs and lows. Ironically, the protagonist serves more as the sidekick to her exuberant best friend Daisy, but their connection is universally heartwarming. Daisy suggests they go on the lookout for a runaway billionaire in hopes of receiving a million-dollar reward. Coincidently, Aza was familiar with the billionaire’s son, who was a childhood friend that she had lost touch with after they stopped attending a summer program together. The plot progresses as the two insecure teenagers rediscover a connection and thus, the love story begins. As always, Green gives the story an unanticipated ending while leaving the readers oddly satisfied.

   However, unlike the majority of Green’s writings, this novel is written in a darker tone. While Aza experiences the torment of her own thoughts about bacteria infesting her body or not being in control of her life, the reader goes back and forth between her thoughts and actions. Intermittently, she listens to unsteady thoughts despite internal conflict that tells her to fight against the urge to obsess. When these scenes take place, there is neither humor nor solutions to the mental battles that John Green fits into his narratives. Aza says, “True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.” Green digs into a deeper message that has not been present in his other novels: people do not always find alleviation in times of trouble.

   Turtles All the Way Down powerfully depicts mental illness and serves as a story with relatable themes. John Green has O.C.D. like his character Aza, and he has spoken about it on his social media and his YouTube channel. His own experiences contributed to creating a realistic and insightful novel about a dark topic, and in the end, Green captures the attention of the reader by reminding the audience that everyone can relate to having a mind that wanders away and creates its own thoughts.