Though the title might suggest a focus on the hard-shelled animals, publisher Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, says the novel “begins with a fugitive billionaire and a cash reward. It is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.” The 16-year-old protagonist grapples with mental illness as she investigates the disappearance of the billionaire. (synopsis via and (c) EW)
I am brave enough to admit that I left YA author John Green’s demographic quite a long time ago.
And yet while I’m not the target audience, there is always utterly compelling about his novels which centre on issues any teenage/young adult would recognise in an instant and explore them in ways interesting and original with characters so fully-formed and engaging, you swear much of the time that you could just reach out and say “Hi” to them.
Even better, the novels have translated well to the screen, under Green’s oversight, with both The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns managing the transition with grace, aplomb and a damn mischievous spirit intact.
So news that the social media-savvy author has new novel coming out, his first since 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars is a cause for celebration with my inner young adult – yep still there somewhere, I swear – chafing at the bit to start reading it.
Turtles All the Way Down, which apparently does not have anything to do with actual turtles which is kinda disappointing, is actually a very personal story for Green who had this say via Penguin UK about what inspired the novel:
“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.”
And apparently to go with all the honest storytelling, both personal and fictional, there will be metaphors! Oh there will be metaphors:
“The great thing about figurative language and symbols and the like in novels is that you don’t have to be conscious of them for them to work.”
So we know what and how the book will be about but what’s with the title? What’s that all mean? EW has an answer for that too.
“The phrase ‘turtles all the way down’ is an expression used to illustrate a logical problem in cosmology, the study of the origins and fate of the universe. In an oft-used anecdote, a professor tries to explain the solar system, only to have someone in the audience argue in favor of the ancient myth suggesting the earth is flat and rests on the back of a giant World Turtle. The professor asks what the turtle is standing on, and the audience member says it’s on the back of another turtle. Attempting to show the logical problem with the myth, the professor asks what’s beneath the second turtle. The audience member humorously responds, ‘It’s turtles all the way down.'”
Of course the waiting, as always with these things, will be the hardest part but at least with some as brilliantly-gifted and accessible as John Green you always know it will be worth the wait.
Turtles All the Way Down is available 10 October.
UPDATE – 27 July 2017