Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 31 Part 1

Hello, everyone! The time has come for me to post my review of Turtles All The Way Down! Also, I'm waking up at 6 AM tomorrow (Way too early for me!), but it's okay because I'm going to see John and Hank Green in person tomorrow night in Indianapolis! Does anyone else happen to be going to that show? Have you been or have tickets to a stop coming up? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. 
Below, you'll find links to all of my John Green book (and movie) review articles as well as a link to a You Tube video from John where he speaks about OCD. I thought the video was so wonderful and important and informative. It also makes a great before or after viewing for Turtles

Without the dust jacket

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (286 pages)
Overview: Aza Holmes is a sixteen year old girl from Indianapolis, Indiana. She's a best friend and a student and a daughter and also someone who deals with intrusive thought spirals because she lives with OCD. Struggling with major questions about the world and identity is hard for any teen, but paired with OCD, they become all encompassing. Aza can't get past the idea that maybe she's really not the one in control of herself. She questions how she can live a life with a mind, supposedly the source of identity, which she cannot control. And she struggles with the idea of all the bacteria that live inside of her and maker her up, and how they could be dangerous and possibly deadly whether they come from her own body or invade through the constant open wound she keeps in her thumb, the callous from childhood she breaks open, and then cleans, compulsively. And seeing the world in this way, the only way she can, complicates her relationships with her best friend, Daisy, and a billionaire boy she used to know who she gets brought back to again, Davis. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 John Green didn't produce characters here with mixes of traits and tropes to execute a story, he wrote people. People who feel like real, living, breathing people, and that makes all the difference in books. In Turtles, he departs from his usual tendency to write loud, larger than life characters (though that is not to say I didn't adored/appreciate Alaska or Margo).
Instead, he focuses on Aza, the narrator, Daisy, her best friend, and Davis, the missing billionaire's son. Aza sees the world the only way she's ever known, through glimpses in breaks of the spirals. She's constantly fighting them and the compulsions they bring. They absorb energy and focus and her ability to live her life. This is something John has shared many times he has personal experience with, as have I. I don't believe I've ever felt closer to a character than I did to Aza.
Then there's Daisy who always means well, but she doesn't live in Aza's head or understand the difficulty Aza faces every day, and sometimes she gets fed up with her friend for sometimes not being the most present or inquisitive. And Davis who feels a connection with Aza in that they have both lost people. He takes a strong refuge in the idea of the past, and Aza is something from it, familiar and understanding. Where issues arise with him is when Aza can't get past the intrusive thoughts she has very time they kiss about all the mycobacteria they exchange, and he can't understand that he really isn't doing anything wrong. He's always asking Aza if she's "getting better", and he can't understand that it is a much more complex situation than it appears to an outsider.

Plot: 5 While this is very much a character piece where we dive into and understand Aza, John has created an interesting plot to tell the story. Daisy and Aza meet Davis because they're looking into the investigation of his father after the billionaire went missing the night before police raided his home. While the question of where his father is is present, the story's point isn't to be a mystery in that respect. The girls push forward and look for clues on the investigation as much as Aza investigates people as she looks to see what makes them the way they are.

Writing: 5 I've always been a major fan of Green's for his writing style for two reasons that both tie back to: he respects his readers. Green uses complex sentence structure and vocabulary. Some critique him, saying that this is unrealistic, but it has always made me feel valued and represented in books. Teens can be eloquent too. Also, Green doesn't ever shy away from major questions about the universe. Why we're here. Why we die. How we live. And how the world works. He shares these musings so poetically as well. I've always felt comforted hearing views on thoughts I often have expressed.
I also have to say that this is especially true to this book. Green writes about thought spirals and what that feels like, an experience I know too well. His descriptions of getting strangled by the unproductive thoughts and what comes from that made me want to scream "Yes!" like someone finally understands. While this spoke to my experience deeply, you don't have to suffer from anxiety to feel and understand this book. Green does a great job of putting the reader as deep in Aza's head as she is, which makes it as important for people to read and understand as to feel comforted.
I got a DFTBA!

Links of Interest:
John Green Vlogbrothers Video on OCDhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNEUz9v5RYo
Looking For Alaska: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html
Paper Towns: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/05/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_21.html
An Abundance of Katherines: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/06/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_25.html
The Fault In Our Stars: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/the-book-and-movie-fault-in-our-stars.html

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (210 pages)
Overview: When Justyce is put in handcuffs after trying to get his drunk ex-girlfriend home safely, his world is shaken. He knows that being African American means that some will look at him differently, but it's never been so terrifying or... personal. He tries to sort his out with the help of his friends, teachers, and by writing letters to Martin Luther King asking for advice. Right when he's finding his footing at school again, he and his best friend Manny are shot in a traffic altercation with a white, off duty cop. Justyce never thought that some loud music would put him in a sling and deprive his best friend of the rest of his life. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 Justyce is an awesome POV character. He's very introspective and into understanding the many layers that make up his views of the world. He grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood and was well aware of gang violence, but since getting a scholarship to a private boarding …

Truly Devious

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (420 pages)
Overview: There was a murder in 1936. Not just a murder, but a kidnapping and a double homicide. One victim was a student at the elite boarding school on a mountain, Ellingham Academy. One was the wife of the school's illustrious billionaire founder, Albert Ellingham. The second kidnapping victim who is still missing is his daughter. Despite the cold case and the lingering fear of the Truly Devious who sent a poem foretelling the murder a few days before, the school continued to attract the best and the brightest with the allure of a free, prestigious boarding school.
Stevie's dream is realized when she gets accepted to pursue a criminology curriculum tailored to her because her main case of interest took place on the very grounds she's moving to. Though her original mission was to solve the Ellingham cold case, when a student mysteriously dies on campus, her attention is shifted. Did Truly Devious strike again? Overall: 4 

Charac…

Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (385 pages)
Overview: Eliza is regarded as a freak at school. Sweatpants and oversized clothes with her lanky frame must mean she's dangerous. Kids avoid her like the plague, and that's fine because that's who Eliza Mirk is. Even Eliza Mirk doesn't like being Eliza Mirk, but she loves being LadyConstellation, beloved creator of the online webcomic Monstrous Sea. No one knows LadyConstellations real identity (not for lack of trying) and the online world and fandoms gives Eliza a chance to be the invincible person she can't be in real life. And then Wallace transfers into school, and he's a Monstrous Sea fan. Though weary at first, Eliza hides her identity as she bonds with Wallace and realizes that the world outside of her screen might not be as poisonous as she believed. But with each day, the truth creeps closer and closer to the surface, and disaster strikes when it comes out. Overall: 5+++++++++ (I'm still so in …

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

Amy And Roger's Epic Detour

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (2010)
Overview: Amy needs to get the family car from California to Connecticut where her mom has moved. The only problem is that she doesn't drive. Enter Roger, a forgotten neighbor and childhood friend who needs to get to Philadelphia. With him behind the wheel, and Amy in the navigator seat, they begin their cross country journey that turns out to carry a few extra twists and turns. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed Amy and Roger. They balanced each other well and created an interesting dynamic to fill the long stretches of empty roads. Roger's ex-girlfirend and Amy's family add extra dimension to their journey.

Plot: 4 In the most indirect way, Amy and Roger weave their way across the country. They experience bits of culture, new fast food, and awkward hotel situations that fill the pages with laughs and thoughtful moments. Though it was a bit long, for the most part, it kept me entertained.

Writing: 4 The writing didn'…

What I Want to See More of In YA

As the year comes to a close, I'm reflecting on the books that I read (and loved) this year, and I'm eagerly putting my TBR together for the next. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting about my favorite books of the year, what I'm looking for next year, and a deeper look into some of the statistics behind my reading. While I've been working on those posts, though, I've seen trends in books that I'm drawn to and underrepresented areas in YA that I want to see more of. This post is my ultimate future wish list as well as a call for other readers to speak out about the kinds of books they want to see represented more on the book shelves. Let me know in the comments if some of these are on your list, or if there's other books you want to see!

College YA I'm starting off with my main wish. I absolutely love YA set in college, and there's absolutely not enough of it. Publishers seem to be scared of venturing that murky space after the summer before fre…

Little White Lies

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (390 pages)
Overview: Sawyer Taft is not a debutant... yet. For now, she works at a car garage making money to keep her and her mom afloat as runs off with new guys she meets at the bar. It's the only life she's known, and she wouldn't have it any other way. And then Lillian Taft walks through the front door, uninvited and announced, contract in hand. Lillian is her estranged grandmother who she's barely heard anything about, and she gives Sawyer a chance she can't refuse: Come live with her for nine months to complete a debutant year in exchange for half a million dollars toward her education. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4.5 I loved Sawyer. She's sarcastic and blunt. She can't take anything in her new, rich, Southern world seriously, and so she provides the setting both with a Mars like feeling and one of a grounded world. Sawyer meets her new family including true matriarch, Lillian Taft, her aunt, Olivia, her uncle, …

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

Neverworld Wake

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (327 pages)
Overview: When Beatrice goes back to Wincroft to meet up with her four former best friends for the first time since their sixth member, and her boyfriend's death, something nearly unexplainable happens. They wake up from a car accident to find that they're repeating the same day over and over. At first, they struggle to understand their fate, but after a few wakes, they realize that they must use this time to discover what really happened when Jim died if they ever want to break the wake. The answer to the question will reveal who will get the groups unanimous vote to be the lone survivor of the Neverworld. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Each character was interesting with their own quirks and distinct personalities. They filled out to requisition parts of any good, dynamic group. It's unfortunate that each of these characters didn't really have a huge chance to be explored. The setting of the Neverworld was the main character in t…