Turtles All the Way Down (novel)

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Turtles All the Way Down
John Green Turtles All The Way Down Book Cover.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorJohn Green
Cover artistRodrigo Corral
CountryUnited States
  • Young adult novel
  • Realistic fiction
PublishedOctober 10, 2017
PublisherDutton Books
Media typePrint (hardcover)
ISBN978-0-525-55536-0 (unsigned edition); 978-0-525-55538-4 (signed edition)

Turtles All the Way Down is a young adult novel written by American author John Green. He published this novel on October 10, 2017, by Dutton Books. It is his fifth solo novel, and his seventh overall. Its publication was announced during VidCon 2017, the online video conference co-founded by Green and his brother Hank. It is his first published work since his 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars. It was released on October 10, 2017, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.[1]


The story centers on 16-year-old Aza Holmes, an American high school student with OCD and anxiety, and her search for a fugitive billionaire. She is grieving the loss of her father while a budding relationship grows between her and a neighbor. Additionally, the novel explores Aza's relationship with her best friend, Daisy. The only other details of the plot revealed to the public before release was that it was to contain, either literally or figuratively, a tuatara, Star Wars fan fiction, an unexpected reunion, friendship, and values of life.

Speaking about the novel, Green stated: "This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal."[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old high school student living in Indianapolis who struggles with OCD, which often manifests as a fear of the human microbiome. Constantly worried about infection, particularly by C. diff, she repeatedly opens a never-fully-healed callus on her finger in an effort to drain out what she believes are pathogens. Throughout the book, Aza is accompanied by two close friends: Mychal Turner, an aspiring artist, and her best friend Daisy Ramirez, who writes Star Wars fan fiction.

One day at school Daisy discovers that Russell Pickett, a billionaire construction magnate and the father of one of Aza's old friends, Davis Pickett, has gone missing in the wake of fraud investigations. Tempted by the reward of $100,000 for information leading to Pickett's arrest, Daisy takes Aza on a search for the missing billionaire. After canoeing across the White River and sneaking onto the Pickett property, they are caught by the security guard who brings them to meet Davis.

To persuade the two girls to stop pursuing the elder Pickett, Davis gives Aza $100,000 taken from his father's various stashes around the guest house, which she splits with Daisy. After the meeting, Davis and Aza begin dating and, at the same time, Daisy becomes romantically involved with Mychal. As time passes, Aza comes to believe that she cannot overcome her anxiety, preventing her from ever having a normal relationship with Davis. She finds numerous blog posts written by him about his feelings on both his father's disappearance and his relationship with her.

Aza reads Daisy's fan fiction for the first time and discovers that Daisy has been using it as a vent for her frustrations with Aza. Their friendship briefly deteriorates, culminating in a heated argument while Aza is driving that results in a car accident. Aza spends several weeks in the hospital, during which she has an anxiety attack and passes out after drinking hand sanitizer. She recovers and rekindles her friendship with Daisy once she is healed.

At an underground art exhibition inside an unfinished drainage tunnel system off of Pogue's Run (that Pickett's company was responsible for), Aza and Daisy go exploring on their own, where they finally solve the mystery and realize that Pickett had run to the very place they were. After noticing a putrefaction emanating from the area, they suspect that the billionaire had already died. Aza tells Davis of their discovery, and the latter eventually places an anonymous tip to the police, who find the body.

Given the loss of their parents and home (their mother died years prior), added to the fact that their father had left his entire fortune to his pet tuatara, Davis and his younger brother Noah decide to relocate to Colorado, where they have rented a house and would be attending schools. As Davis and Aza say their goodbyes, she reflects on the open possibilities of her future.

Publication history[edit]

A section of the novel was read aloud by Green during the Project for Awesome live stream in December 2016. In order to protect the book's copyright, this section of the live stream was not archived and is no longer available online.[citation needed]

In the months leading up to the novel's announcement, Green left various clues in his weekly Vlogbrothers videos, whereupon some members of Nerdfighteria worked together to solve these hints and reveal more information about the book.[3]

In September, Green posted a video of himself narrating the first chapter of the novel on his channel 'Vlogbrothers'.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Within hours of the novel's announcement, press outlets including The Washington Post,[5] BuzzFeed,[6] Bustle,[7] Publishers Weekly,[8] Mashable,[9] MTV,[10] Entertainment Weekly[11] and Cultura Magazine[12] published press releases echoing the announcement, signaling a high level of anticipation.

The book debuted to positive reviews. The New York Times praised it as "surprising and moving" and wrote that "one needn't be suffering like Aza to identify with it. One need only be human."[13] Many reviewers noted Green's talent for keen observation, sharpened more in this case by Green's own struggles with OCD, the mental illness depicted in the novel.[14] Several reviewers referenced a dismissive perception of Green's now very popular œuvre as "sad teen books", which emerged since the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars, but praised Turtles All the Way Down as truthful and authentic enough to transcend these imagined drawbacks. "It often dwells in cliché, but only as pop songs and epic poems do, mining the universal to create something that speaks to the familiar rhythms of the heart," wrote Matt Haig of The Guardian, "It might just be a new modern classic."[15]

Film adaptation[edit]

In December 2017, Green announced that a film adaptation was in development.[16] It was optioned by Fox 2000 and would be produced by Temple Hill Productions, the same team that made The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns adaptations.[17] In May 2018, Green confirmed that Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the co-showrunners of the NBC series This Is Us and the screenwriters of Love, Simon, would be adapting the novel.[18] Actress Hannah Marks was named as the film's director in January 2019.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/2017/10/29/young-adult-hardcover/
  2. ^ "10 things you need to know about John Green's Turtles All the Way Down". Penguin.co.uk. Penguin Books Ltd. June 22, 2017. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  3. ^ "The Hunt". Tuataria - Nerdfighter Discord - It's a Tuatara. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  4. ^ Green, John. "John Reads the First Chapter of Turtles All the Way Down". YouTube. vlogbrothers. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  5. ^ Associated Press (June 22, 2017). "In the stars: New John Green novel coming in October". The Washington Post. WP Company LLC. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Penn, Farrah (June 22, 2017). "John Green Has A New Book Coming Out". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Oulton, Emma (June 22, 2017). "John Green Is Releasing His First Novel In Six Years, And The Title Is Pretty Bizarre". Bustle. BDG Media, Inc. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  8. ^ Kantor, Emma (June 22, 2017). "Penguin Announces New John Green Novel, 'Turtles All the Way Down'". Publishers Weekly. PWxyz, LLC. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  9. ^ Khosla, Proma (June 22, 2017). "Holy crap, we're getting a new John Green book this year and the title is perfect". Mashable. Mashable, Inc. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  10. ^ Bell, Crystal (June 22, 2017). "John Green Announces His Most Personal Book To Date". MTV. Viacom International Inc. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Lenker, Maureen Lee (June 22, 2017). "John Green's next novel is coming in October". ew.com. Time Inc. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  12. ^ Utami, Rieska (September 7, 2019). "Turtles All The Way Down Review". Cultura.ID. Cultura Magazine. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  13. ^ Senior, Jennifer (October 10, 2017). "In John Green’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down,’ a Teenager’s Mind Is at War With Itself". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  14. ^ Grady, Constance (October 11, 2017). "John Green’s new book is not a quirky sad romance. It’s an existential teenage scream". Vox.com. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Haig, Matt (October 10, 2017). "Turtles All the Way Down by John Green Review – A New Modern Classic". The Guardian (TheGuardian.com). Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  16. ^ vlogbrothers (2017-12-05), On the Movies, retrieved 2017-12-05
  17. ^ Ramos, Dino-Day (December 5, 2017). "Fox 2000 Options John Green's 'Turtles All The Way Down'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Lindquist, David (May 3, 2018). "5 insights from WFYI's Andrew Luck-John Green event, including the QB's anxious thoughts". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  19. ^ Galuppo, Mia (January 11, 2019). "John Green Adaptation 'Turtles All the Way Down' Finds Director". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 January 2019.