Okay, so this is a super late review. As in I started and finished this book during the first week of February. I know, I know, I’m a terrible person. Anyway, in February I was doing some temping work that required a bit of travel to get there. I was on the bus for half an hour there and back, which makes a very bored Taylor for an hour a day. So I decided I would take a book to keep myself company. Bear in mind that until this point, I hadn’t read and finished a book for probably a year. Mostly because I’m lazy but also down to the fact that my brain sometimes can’t process and store a large amount of information due to brain fog. So the fact that I finished this within a couple of days was a complete surprise.
I’ve read almost all of John Green’s other books, and I really liked them. When I was like 16. Now that’s not to say the writing isn’t good, because it is. But I found that they are more relatable to kids that age, which is fine. Like I say the other books aren’t bad, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to re-read them any time soon. This purchase was due to a moment of weakness in Sainsbury’s when I saw that it was less than a tenner. And because I have all of his other books, I just had to, okay? I hadn’t really heard a lot about this book at the time that I bought it, but I think that was more down to the fact I’ve not really kept up with new releases, at least not as much I used to, more than there having not been any hype around it.
Previous to reading the book, I did watch the video of John reading the first chapter, and I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t interest me. Because it did. Aza interested me. So I was more than happy to spend my time traveling to work with my nose in this book.
And I really liked it. I related hard to some bits in this book. The concept of the Thought Spirals hit me like a tonne of bricks. Because that was how my brain worked sometimes. I found remnants of myself in Aza throughout the book and I think this is one of the main reasons I liked it so much. Often with books in the genre, I find that there are some long, slow bits which really put me off. As soon as I’ve lost interest I put the book down and typically never pick it back up. But everything that was written in this book had a point. There was a reason behind everything written, no slow bits. But perhaps that could be partly due to the fact that it isn’t a very on-the-edge, thrilling read? That being said, I almost think I preferred the languid, breezy pace it had rather than the dynamic, frantic pace it could have had. There was so much franticness going on in Aza’s head, you don’t need that in every chapter too.
Something I think John Green always knocks out the park is his ability to capture being a teenager. He does this so well within Aza’s thought patterns as well as the speech used. I’m a little ashamed to say that when I was 16 I also used the word ‘like’ at the start of every sentence. (I still do sometimes!) While Aza is for sure not your typical teenager, there’s some beauty in that. John shows the world that for some, it really isn’t all about parties and drinking. It’s about forging genuine connections with people. About discovering the kind of person you are, or the kind you want to be. Something else John does well is the fact he keeps us guessing throughout. Obviously no spoilers, but even when things seem to have concluded and been put to bed, we’re still left thinking, what’s going to happen? It keeps us thinking about what’s next, but not in a ‘I need to read this every second of the day because I can’t put it down’ but in more of an ‘I’m really interested in these characters and I want to see more about how they act when they’re put into different situations’.
I’ll admit that I was less interested in the mystery once we started to delve into Aza’s relationship with Davis, but I think that’s the point. I don’t think the mystery itself is the thing that keeps you engaged and turning the page. It’s just there, it’s a thing that happens that strangely brings these people together. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is what these people do about it or as a result of it.
What did I love most? I loved how predominantly about Aza the whole book is. Yes, there’s a murder and a mystery, but this is a story about Aza, everything else is more like background noise. Even in the moment’s where Aza is with all her friends, we see her tuning out and spiraling in her thoughts and for me, those were the moments where the writing really shone. It was written so brilliantly and so on point for many people, myself included. It was definitely one of those books that I got sad about when I started to realize how few pages were left. It had that kind of comfort about it that I didn’t want to end.
One not-really-a-spoiler point is that I was a little surprised by the ending. Mainly because it felt like it ended too quickly. Don’t get me wrong it was written well, and I actually really liked the ending itself. But with less than 100 pages left, I still had so many questions left. Will Davis’ dad come back? Does Aza control her anxiety? Does she fall out with Daisy? Will she stay with Davis? What will happen to Noah? Did I have too many questions because of how much I loved the characters? Probably. Was I a little disappointed when it felt like the ending fell a little too flat and open-ended? Definitely. Like I say, I liked the reminiscent tone and the foreboding. I guess if you squint a little, everything is tied up, albeit a little messily. I did think it was a good choice to not openly say what happens to Aza and that we’re left to wonder and make up our own minds. I think in a lot of ways this allows the character to stay with us even after the last page has turned.
If you’re a fan of John Green’s stuff or YA books in general, this is definitely a book you should feast your eyes on. However, if you’re looking for a book that keeps you on edge and keeps you guessing, this might be a tad disappointing. But I can say that having finished the book over 3 months ago, it’s one I’m still fond of and would happily read again.
Have you read Turtles All The Way Down? Are you a fan of John Green? Let me know in the comments so we can nerd out about books for a while!