Synopsis via Amazon

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.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience and the power of lifelong friendship.

The Review

“You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.”

I wanted to binge read this like I did with The Fault in Our Stars back in 2013, but I chose to read it in 3 days digesting and noting down the quotes I loved.

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

In the beginning of the book, the narrator Aza Holmes talks about being fictional. (This really intrigued me.) Just to feel real, she would press her right thumbnail into the finger pad of her middle finger and, so she had a callus over her fingerprint. After so many years of doing that, she could open a crack in the skin easily and cover it up with a Band-Aid to try to prevent infection. But sometimes she would worry there already is an infection, so she needed to drain it and the only way to do it would be by reopening the wound and pressing out any blood that would come. She would repeat this again and again. Her jean pocket was filled with Band-Aids.

“True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.”

The beginning of Aza’s romance was confusing, it developed too fast. I felt the author didn’t put enough details in the beginning like he did in the end.

The number of quotes I noted down in the first quarter of the book is shocking. I have read four books by John Green and it’s easy to say he always finds a way to make his readers smile even though we end up crying at least once in each book.

Character Analysis

Harold; Aza’s 16-year-old Toyota Corolla car with Mystic Teal Mica color is rather an uncommon character. Aza describes him, “an engine that clanked in a steady rhythm like the beating of his immaculate metallic heart” I think Aza feels Harold is the only thing that connects her to her deceased father. The author makes sure to give us that sentimental touch of nostalgia and grief wrapped together.

Daisy; Aza’s best friend since they were six, calls her Holmesy. I later realized she calls her that because their names rhyme.

The Real Bits

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening infinitely.”

Knowing that the author has OCD and Anxiety Disorder, it’s quite astonishing that he could write about a character that mirrors his readers’ feelings or even his own. I felt a bit suffocated in the middle of the book and now that I think of it, I think that’s when Aza’s anxiety was at peak and the emotions written by the author were too raw.


It’s not one of my favorites but I enjoyed the romance. I would recommend this book to readers only after they read at least one book from John Green. Because Turtles All The Way Down doesn’t exactly promise adventure, it’s filled with raw emotions and struggle… I would say, see the adventurous side of John Green before you read the unfeigned side.

Finally, my favorite quote is part of a poem by Davis in the novel;

“The daffodil knows more of spring / than roses know of anything.”


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