Green’s mystery lacks clear focus

Green’s mystery lacks clear focus

Hannah Kopek, Staff Writer

Author of the New York Times bestselling book “The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green, is back with his 5th solo novel, “Turtles All the Way Down”.

The novel’s romance seems lacking compared to its predecessor,, but that’s easy to understand because instead of being written as a love story, the book follows a fictional high school student, Aza Holmes, through her journey with a few friends to find a fugitive for a hundred-thousand-dollar reward.

Other than the lack-luster romance between two seemingly unfitting characters, in the beginning, the story is mostly well written.

However, along the way Green underlines Aza’s struggle with anxiety, which he too experiences in real life. Plots surrounding mental health are becoming more and more prominent in teen fiction, placing this book in the cliché genre following in the footsteps of books like “Girl in Pieces” by Katherine Glasgow and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini.

Even though the main blurb describes the book as “pursuing the mystery of [a] fugitive billionaire,” the mystery is somewhat solved in scattered bits and pieces, leaving several openings for Green to focus on the mental illness aspect .

Although this is a proclaimed solo novel, it doesn’t follow his usual writing style. His coming of age stories, or his novels of personal realization, like “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska” are extremely different when held against this new novel.

The characters he writes are usually always changing and developing. However, the main character of this novel, Aza, felt static due to her reoccurring habits, thoughts, and behaviors. Portaying a static character as the protagonist may have been his plan all along to express how someone with anxiety and OCD ponders the same thoughts over and over again.

Not to say that developing a new writing style is terrible, but this book was a shock to the natural order of all things John Green. It does take a lot of guts to write the nitty gritty tales of living with anxiety and OCD, and I applaud Green for telling a story from a point of view not many understand.

Still, after being a John Green fan for many years, I couldn’t help but feel great disappointment when I finished this book. The plot overall felt rushed in some places, and then very slow in others. For the most part, questions that were left unanswered from early on were eventually answered in the end, but it just didn’t feel as spectactular as his earlier novels.

For someone unaccustomed to Green’s usual writing style this would be a good read, but for me, I was left unsatisfied.

I give this book a 3.5/5 stars.