Green’s new novel fails to meet expectations

Cole Schnell
Junior Editor


Young adult author, John Green, who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, writes about a girl named Aza who shares the same struggle. Photo from

“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” is thoughtful, but disoriented.

The book’s front-flap is misleading. The book is very little about a 16-year-old girl, Aza, trying to solve the disappearance of Russell Pickett, father of her childhood friend and billionaire, but about Aza suffering from obsessive–compulsive disorder, which is what the cover, title and only a small portion oft he front-flap portray.

In his book, Green asks timeless questions: whether one’s experience makes who she/he is and what wealth does or doesn’t do to a person. The plot is lost and twisted, and by comparison boring between Green’s beautiful anecdotes of infatuation, death and mental illness brought on by Aza’s thoughtfulness.

Relatable thoughts push Aza over the edge on multiple occasions. The use of these thoughts could construe them as more severe than they always are, especially for younger viewers. The book properly portrays mental illness in this sense that people who are mentally ill are pushed over the edge by normal thoughts.

Mental illness is a popular topic, and “Turtles All the Way Down” isn’t notable enough to compete.

The ending is similar to the well-done “Looking for Alaska” ending but worse and unsatisfying. The multiple plots converge with one plot concluding with the use of a deus ex machina, which allowed for the rest of the plots to conclude. The plots were resolved by luck but not virtue. Green felt he needed to explain the ending within the book, which reveals the problem with it.

Fans of the uninspired dreams of “Paper Towns” will enjoy this book, while, fans of the reflective, Salinger-esque “Looking for Alaska” or the witty, imaginative “An Abundance of Katherines,” which lends better to Green’s voice, will not.

A 13-year-old who looks for simplicity may call it an insightful story. To like this book, one doesn’t need to understand the full circumstances.

“Turtles all the Way Down” costs $11.99 on Amazon, published by Dutton Books for Young Readers and contains 304 pages.

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