Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

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

John Green just loves his infinity analogies, doesn’t he? After The Fault in Our Stars’ “some infinities are bigger than other infinities”, he whacks out another ready-for-Tumblr quote, this one about the infinity of an inward spiral (and then, later an outward spiral). The tightening spiral is a metaphor for anxious thoughts, in his latest novel, Turtles All The Way Down, and yes, a tightening spiral is a great way to talk about the cyclical terror you feel during an attack.

But panic attacks are not infinite.

Anyone who’s ever had a panic attack (or a lot of panic attacks) knows that they all end. You can feel like you’re dying, and your body is shutting down, and the world is ending, but it passes. It always, always goes. As much as I liked John Green talking about anxiety, I found issue in his idea that it’s an infinite thing. However I did like that he didn’t provide an easy, cure all answer to his main character’s anxiety. Main character Aza deals with her anxiety, and she keeps dealing with it, and it goes on. It’s continual, not continuous.

John Green is unfailingly popular with his target audience for his ability to wrap big thoughts up into neat, meaningful messages that can be reblogged and reposted to infinity. But I found the story in this novel a bit lacking – there was a hint of a mystery with no satisfying ending. Intriguing characters and plot points were brought forward and then fell to the wayside to push Green’s message, which kinda feels like a message we’ve all already agreed on, before this book was published. Green continues to preach to the choir, and the choir laps it up.

This is a super critical analysis of someone who is a pretty intelligent and thoughtful writer. But I kinda feel like he’s never gonna grow out of his favourite genre of kinda-damaged-but-still-cute straight white kids falling in love and then having a tearful ending where they LEARN a great message about life. I gave this book 3 stars.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

  1. Loved your review! I completely agree with everything you said! “kinda-damaged-but-still-cute straight white kids” are definitely his specialty. I honestly have never been a huge fan of Green’s writing, although I admit I did give this one 3 stars as well. Again, great review!

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