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Turtles All the Way Down (novel)

Turtles All the Way Down is a young adult novel written by American author John Green, published 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. In December 2017, Green announced that a film adaptation was in development.[1]

Turtles All the Way Down
John Green Turtles All The Way Down Book Cover.jpg
First edition cover
Author John Green
Cover artist Rodrigo Corral
Country United States
Language English
  • Young adult novel
  • Realistic fiction
Published October 10, 2017
Publisher Dutton Books
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 286
ISBN 978-0-525-55536-0 (unsigned edition); 978-0-525-55538-4 (signed edition)



The story centers around 16-year-old Aza Holmes, a high school student living with multiple anxiety disorders, and her search for a fugitive billionaire. The only other details of the plot known to the public before release were that it contains, either literally or figuratively, tuatara, Star Wars fanfiction, 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 summaryEdit

Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old high school student in Indianapolis who struggles with anxiety, mostly stemming from a fear of the human microbiome. Constantly worried about infection, particularly C. diff, she repeatedly opens a never-fully-healed callous on her finger in an effort to drain out what she believes are pathogens. Aza has two close friends: Mychal Turner, an aspiring artist, and her best friend Daisy Ramirez, who writes Star Wars fanfiction.

One day at school Daisy discovers that Russell Pickett, a billionaire construction magnate and the father of one of Aza's old acquaintances 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 compound, they are caught by the security guard, who brings them to meet Davis.

After the meeting, Davis and Aza begin a relationship. In an attempt 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 house, which she splits with Daisy. 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, finding that Daisy had been using it as a vent for her frustrations with Aza. Their friendship briefly deteriorates, culminating in a heated argument while Aza is driving, resulting in a car accident. Aza spends several weeks recuperating in the hospital. The two rekindle their friendship once she is healed.

At an 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 bad smell emanating from the area, they suspect that the billionaire had already died. Aza tells Davis of their discovery. He places an anonymous tip to the police, who find the body.

Given the loss of their parents and home (their mother had died years prior), added with 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 Noah would attend a boarding school. As Davis and Aza say their goodbyes, she reflects on the open possibilities of her future.

Publication historyEdit

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 video, on which 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 receptionEdit

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] and Entertainment Weekly[11] 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."[12] Many reviewers noted Green's talent for keen observation, sharpened more in this case by the Green's own struggles with OCD, the mental illness depicted in the novel.[13] Several reviewers referenced a dismissive perception of Green's now very popular oeuvre 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."[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ vlogbrothers (2017-12-05), On the Movies, retrieved 2017-12-05 
  2. ^ "10 things you need to know about John Green's Turtles All the Way Down". 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". Time Inc. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ 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 ( Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  13. ^ Grady, Constance (October 11, 2017). "John Green’s new book is not a quirky sad romance. It’s an existential teenage scream." Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  14. ^ Haig, Matt (October 10, 2017). "Turtles All the Way Down by John Green Review – A New Modern Classic." The Guardian ( Retrieved October 14, 2017.