Turtles All The Way Down to a Boring Plot

Another John Green novel and another disappointment for me.

I know this book is very popular in my blogosphere and a lot of readers recommended this book. With all the HYPE surrounding it, I was very excited. Maybe, too excited. It’s no one’s fault ( I love y’all recommendations) , this is purely my VERY personal opinion.

(c) Bookidote

I’m going to jump right in and tell you what worked and what didn’t work for me. I like to start with the bad things first, so what didn’t work : THE  WHOLE PLOT.plot.png

John Green wants to incorporate a detective story in there with the main character Aza as the lead “detective” and her best friend as her sidekick. But as we read the book, we learn that Aza suffers from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It also happens that one of her friends, Davis Pickett, has a dad who is a multibillionaire business shady man just disappeared. The police asked for a reward of 100,000$ to find the fugitive. Since Aza is friend with Davis (his son), Aza’s best friend wants to take advantage of that relationship and find out what happened to David’s Dad so they can win the money.

(c) Bookidote


I would love to tell you more about it but in these sentences, you HAVE THE BOOK.


This plot (or should I say sub-plot to the mental illness theme) is just so displaced and out of nowhere. When you decide to go with a mystery vibe, you stick to it… You don’t just sprinkle some detective atmosphere in there to illustrate an introspective experience of an OCD teenager. THERE’S NO SUSPENSE. NO PAGE TURNER MOMENT.

I didn’t care for the characters to be honest. Instaromance, ugh yes. Plus, her best friend, obsessed with Star Wars fan fiction, is annoyingly calling Aza “Holmesey” referring to Sherlock Holmes, when SHE was the one who got the idea in the first place.  So yeah, 286 pages where you can find annoying text messages with a pair of teenagers who are trying to be hipster-philosophical.

Me: You’re not your money.
Him (Davis): Then what am I? What is anyone?
Me: I is the hardest word to define.
Him: Maybe you are what you can not be.
Me: Maybe. How’s the sky?
Him: Great. Huge. Amazing.

likethat.png When I get philosophical over text messages there are certain stepbacks… there are some thinking going on. It’s gradual. There are hesitations. When you share your personal thoughts, it takes a lot of time and intimacy. These two took like 15 minutes to insta falling love, chat about philosophical content and become best friends.

The second reason, that ALWAYS turn me off in YA novels, is the part where THE GIRL MAGICALLY HAS A F**KN RICH BOYFRIEND.


Is this real life? Do we really need another female protagonist falling in love with a rich boy? Can’t we have a powerful girl kicking ass making her own money and climb her way to the top? YEH YEH.


Alright so the two stars are for the great conceptualization of OCD. I work as a fellow head researcher in an OCD organization myself, I’ve talked and even got to council a group of OCD people every week and I must admit, the mental illness is very well portrayed.  He describes how her thoughts are taking over her behaviours and she becomes stuck in that never ending tide of irrational thinking. I know that the author himself has OCD so just the fact he’s writing about it can be pretty difficult. We get some raw thoughts about the main character that I’m sure he had to take a few breaks because it hurts. Because it disturbs the mind.

SPOILER.pngIf y’all survive to read my rant until here and don’t care about spoilers, I must get this out of my chest. We also learn that the multibillionaire dad, if he ever disappeared or died in the end, has decided to leave ALL of his money to a tuatara. A FCKN TUATARA. No money for his sons. FOR A TUATARA. 




THAT’S IT ;D I’ve always and always  been honest in my reviews no matter what, even if it’s a big and popular author. Hope y’all can understand and can still enjoy reading this  book review 🙂



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  • I have not read any John Green books. I have plans to read this soon. I agree with you, no one texts like that. LOL!! That is really funny and not believable. I will keep in mind not to have high expectations from the plot.


  • Ha I love your rant and I think you gave some very valid reasons for not liking this one. I only read one John Green novel (The Fault in Our Stars) and I didn’t get the whole hype then.. I was kind of looking forward to giving it another chance with this novel, it sounds interesting enough but now I’m not sure anymore :-). Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I have read TFIOS, and Paper Towns and then Looking for Alaska was a DNF. His plots are always boring and I’ve stopped reading his work for that reason so I appreciate the honest opinion here. I’m sure I would have felt the same way because as much as everyone loves his work I always find it anticlimactic.

    Liked by 1 person

  • OMG TRANG!!!😰😰😰 By your description I am very reluctant to ever pick up this title. That text message through me way off and what the hell is up with that spoiler?! Like really?😬 That’s the most creative thing one must come up with. Fantastic Review though beautiful lady!😁 I really enjoyed reading your review but am quite dissapointed in the plot of this book.😓 You really know how to write a great review Trang!📚❤ You rock!😍 I hope your next book is better!!!❤❤❤


  • Ahh I’m honestly glad I’ve decided to give up on Green- he’s not for me either. I’ve heard the plot for this is not very good from a few places now. Arghh that hipster philosophy is *exactly* why I do not read John Green- I really can’t stand that little snippet. And of course they fall in love in 15 minutes- cos why not? hehe oh letting her make her money would just be a totally crazy idea- far more crazy than having her meet a rich guy and fall in love *like that*- cos that totally happens in real life 😉 I’m glad it was a good portrayal of OCD though- especially coming from your expert opinion 🙂 It really doesn’t sound like a great book though!! Awesome review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’m a huge fan of John Green and all of his books, but I’ll make you feel better right now: I still enjoyed reading your review 🙂 I really liked Turtles, because I’m used to and like Green’s writing style, how his characters might be a bit over-philosophical or something ahah. I tend to like it, but I know how bothering it might be to other people. I’m happy to hear that you at least enjoyed the OCD representation, that was so on point and realistic for sure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve never taken a second look at Green’s books after reading TFIOS. I understood that his books are definitely not for me and after reading this review I think I did myself a favour. Even if the characters are good, the plot should be there to move them forward and that seemed epically missing in this book.And also, with the philosophical stuff, I kinda feel irritated with that, and seriously who even talks like that in real life?!
    Anyway, great review! ❤


  • You didn’t get attached to the characters? ( Maybe you’re a sociopath) John Green made sure that his characters are always on point. I thought Aza and her best friend were very attaching.


  • Oh I’m sorry this wasn’t a good read for you overall Trang, especially considering how hyped this book was. I’ve only read one John Green book, but his others are on my to-read list, so I can’t say I was really excited for it’s release.
    Still at least the OCD representation was well done, but wow I can’t imagine texting any of my friends that conversation you featured in your review. They’d probably ask what was wrong with me if I even tried. 🙂
    Great review. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • Loved the review Trang! I’ve personally never read a John Green book but when considering one of his books, this one came to mind because I too have mild OCD. However, I have read SOOOOO many mixed reviews that at this point I just know it’s not for me. Also, NOBODY texts like that! LMAO! I agree, it does take some warming up. Thank you for always keeping it honest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • That sounds like a super annoying book to be honest! Whenever text messages are included or instalove, I won’t read it. I only ever read one John Green book and thought it was ok but no more (Will Grayson, Will Grayson). It’s just not my kind of writing or the stories I’m after, I won’t try the author again.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Most of the reviews I’ve seen so far echo your thoughts, great OCD rep, poor characters/plot line. I’m not rushing to get into this even though I did love John Green as a teen and I like his Youtube it’s just not something I’ll see myself loving, I do plan on reading it eventually (probably when the paperbacks available) and who knows maybe my low expectations will leave me liking it. Great review Trang ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • GOSH I LOVE HONESTY🌺. Those texts are soo unrealistic.🙁🙁 I mean not even teenagers NOR older people speak like that (because some teens can be pretty brilliant too😏 ). You are absolutely right. When I try to formalize my thoughts, I tend to take time. Not shooting those texts like that. THANK GOD🙏 🙏 . Dont have to buy this book for 30$ hehe

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yer excellent review helps cement the fact that John Green is just not meant to be part of me crew. I am glad other folk like his work and that he floats other boats. Just not mine. But in general I am not a fan of contemporaries showcasing mental illness. Important topic. Good fer diversity. But they either depress me and make me hate the world or I get angry at the bad portrayals. Then again I don’t tend to read a lot of young adult contemporaries in general. Though I did like the serpent king. So there are exceptions. Lovely reviews as always.
    x The Captain


  • I thought I would give this book a chance so I bought it…I hope the plot doesn’t bore me too much but from the sound of it, that’s exactly what it’s going to do 😦


  • While I did like The Fault in Our Stars (though not without it’s issues), I have never been able to make myself any other John Green book. I’ve started a couple others and they’re just so pretentious I can’t deal with it. Just reading that texting excerpt was enough to annoy me haha. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I haven’t decided on whether I should read this book or not and after reading your review, I’m even more skeptical. But I did like Fault in Our Stars and a lot of people hated it so I might give this a chance. Haha. Great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review, Trang! I know that John Green books can be polarizing for many people. This is the first remotely negative review I’ve seen for the book so far, but I’m surprised it took this long! I will certainly still be reading it, if only for the OCD representation. I didn’t realize Green struggles with OCD… I feel like reading Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here I had my first introduction to OCD and now I’m curious. I want to know more about it! Are there other books you’d recommend which well represent OCD?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review… I haven’t read a single Green book! 🙂
    But the hipster philosophical texts? Well… yeah, I did do those in my teens 😀 a long time ago now 😀 hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  • I read Fault in Out Stars a few years ago and I think I gave it 2 stars, just not a fan then I found Paper Towns at the library to far for like 25 cents so I will give hm one more shot then I’m done.


  • I’m loving the watercolor banners Trang! And did you do the quote graphics on Lashaan’s posts? Whoever the graphic person for your site is they are rockin it out! ♥️ (It’s good to get that off my chest to someone!)

    LOVE your review… I have a total fascination for negative reviews and you were BOLD… I loved it but then again I’m not really a fan of John Green so you aren’t hurting my feelings 😉 The lack of plot is startling… though I have a weakness for mental health issues and the OCD rep sounds great!


    • Thank you so much Dani! ❤ Love your graphics too!!! 😀 And yes I'm the main graphic person on Bookidote but Lashaans' posts nowadays, it's his own initiatives (pretty proud of my co-blogger!) 😉 I don't have time to do graphics on my posts, for the layout of the site and his posts too it would be too much. I've been doing graphic design since high school TEEHEE 😀

      Love your fascination with negative reviews LOL totally understandable! I am quite one myself 😉 I appreciate how honest you are in yours too!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  • This book sounds like the usual YA stuff. All texting, money, and instant relationships…
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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