Worth the Read? — Turtles All the Way Down

Welcome to “Worth the Read?” where I give you my honest opinion on whether you should spend your precious time reading a super-hyped New York Times Bestseller.

Today’s book is:
Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
On New York Times Best Sellers list (Young Adult Hardcover) for 15 weeks

The Hype:
Just take a look at the book’s description on Amazon and you’ll see how incredibly loved this book is by critics. The number of “best of 2017″ book lists it’s on is crazy impressive! So, it’s not very surprising that Turtles All the Way Down has sold very well. John Green has been one of the most popular young adult authors of the last decade. He is so successful with his adolescent readers that major publications have called him “The Teen Whisperer.” His books sell millions of copies (that’s not an exaggeration), Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars have both been adapted to the big screen, and he and his brother have more than 3 million YouTube subscribers…he and his books are a big deal!

Plot Summary:
From the publisher
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Turtles All the Way Down is not my favorite of John Green’s novels, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it. And to be honest, the publisher description (which sounds a lot like the summary of a Scooby-Doo epidsode) doesn’t do the story justice. It’s a lot more than a straight forward, plot-driven mystery. Green tackles major issues like mental health and socio-economic differences with aplomb, while still maintaining a style that is readable and relatable for his teen audience (and adults who like reading YA 🙂 ).
What I appreciated most about the book is how personal and honest it is. Green suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder like the book’s main character, Aza. It’s refreshing to see how frank he is about his own struggles during interviews and in the story itself. His descriptions of living with OCD are unflinching and a truly visceral experience.
I think the one element missing for me was humor. Obviously, issues of mental health aren’t funny, but in his other books that also deal with serious teen problems, Green somehow weaved in more laughs. Turtles all the Way Down isn’t devoid of humor completely. I just wish there had been more.
Looking for Alaska is still my favorite of Green’s novels, but overall, Turtles All the Way Down is a solid read.

Rating: 90% worth it
Rating Key
80% – 100% – the book lives up to the hype. Go read it now!
60% – 79% – the book is good, but there’s no rush to read it
40% – 59% – the book has some degree of merit, but has flaws and probably isn’t worth your time
0% – 39% – the book stinks and isn’t worth the read

Have you read Turtles All the Way Down?  What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!

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