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Turtles all the Way Down Review

       

Turtles all the Way Down the long awaited novel by John Green after his heavy success with The Fault in Our Stars. If you follow his vlogs like I do you will know that until a few months ago he had stayed very quiet about his work post The Fault in Our Stars. Many fans of his (some known as Nerdfighters) were very excited to see the release of Turtles all the Way Down, and since I have read most of John Green’s books I figured I’d read Turtles all the Way Down too.

        Also fun fact, I had intended to grab the book at Target because Target dictates to me what is worth reading and what isn’t and to my surprise I got myself a signed copy of Turtles all the Way Down. It seems like something silly to gush over, but there’s just something nice about knowing a book you bought was in the same area as their ‘parent’.

Spoilers from this point Onward, can’t jedi mind trick this out of you. Hehe Star Wars reference in a book that has NOTHING to do with Star Wars. And maybe some discussion about John Green’s vlogs over the past few years.

        Turtles all the Way Down follows a girl named Aza Holmsey, a girl who suffers from a form of OCD that involves the fear of Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) and other bacterias to the point where she’s always applying hand sanitizer to one of her fingers that has a perpetual cut due to always pushing her thumbnail into her middlefinger. Aza has only her mother due to her father dying when she was a child.

        Aza also has her best friend Daisy who is a big Star Wars fan having knowledge of the current expanded universe, the Legends universe, and even writing her own Star Wars fanfiction. The story kicks off with Daisy taking interest in the disappearance Russell Pickett wanted by the police for a white collar crime due to a large reward being offered for the knowledge of the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Because of this Aza runs into Davis a childhood friend of hers and son of Russell Pickett.  

        In all honesty I was a little worried reading the first quarter of the book; worried that this was another flavor of Looking for Alaska in the same way that Paper Towns was due to the mystery of the disappearance of Russell Pickett that our protagonists want to solve. After some bribe is involved the mystery is dropped down to mainly background noise in the novel with the bulk of the story involving Aza’s OCD and how it affects not only her, but her relationships and prevents her from experiencing life in the same way a normal person would.

        I don’t have OCD, I’ve made jokes at the expense of individuals of OCD (mainly out of my lack of education on the disorder and inability to organize my living space), but TatWD gave what has been described by fans on the Facebook Nerdfighters page as a very accurate internal description of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It probably helps that John Green as admitted to having OCD and knowing the experience for it.

        The way it affects Aza outside of the fear of C.diff is a constant fear of not being clean enough and losing the ability to do things that some people would enjoy doing and have no problem doing (such as French kissing) where the thoughts of another person’s bacteria inside of her make her unable to enjoy the sensation and her thoughts focusing primarily on the fact that something that isn’t hers is inside of her.

        Aza also struggles with her relationship with Davis, who she does have feelings for, but the above side effects of her OCD prevent her from enjoying the more physical parts of their relationship. While both of them do have a unique form of communication via text message. Even though Davis does return the feelings towards Aza he does have physical desires (not sexual, but atleast some form of physical intimacy.

Aza does feel guilt for her choice t date Davis despite his dad missing because it distracts Davis from taking care of his little brother Noah who isn’t taking the disappearance of their father in the same way that Davis is.

There is some strong emphasis on parents in this novel, even stronger than Green’s previous work where parents are far from a obstacle in their stories as seen in some other YA books. Aza has only her mother who worries about Aza frequently because of her mental health and just because she’s a good mother. Davis’ father on the other hand abandoned both his sons, was never too close to them, had arguments with his wife before she passed away, had the staff of his house raise his sons, and left all his money to a tuatara named Tua in hopes that the research to discover the secrets to the long life of tuataras can be found and he’d get the credit for funding it. Daisy’s parents are mentioned, but never seen due to Aza never asking about them or ever going over to Daisy’s house.

        My favorite character in the novel is Daisy, as I mentioned before she’s a huge Star Wars fan, but she was fun. There were moments of her being shallow and using Aza a bit (she did kick off the whole plot by making Aza not only trespass on Russell Pickett’s property but start a relationship with Davis Pickett for the sake of information on the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Daisy also makes some points that Aza’s life isn’t as bad as she feels it is due to Daisy only having a smartphone as her only form of online entertainment which becomes very shocking and impressive when people remember that she has written lengthy Star Wars fanfiction on her smartphone. I felt myself siding with Daisy in one argument when Aza is concerned about her spending habits after they receive their hush money through buying not only a new car, but a new laptop. Daisy argues that Aza has a laptop and a car and lives in a house with her own room despite having only one working parent while she only has her smartphone, shares her room with her eight year old sister, and lives in an apartment complex even though she has both her parents and both of them being employed. Minor fun fact, but the paper BB-8 seen in the photo above was used as a bookmarker because I couldn’t find a bookmark that wasn’t currently being used, you can imagine how delightfully surprised I was discovering that Star Wars was mentioned frequently in this book and how appropriate it is.

        As I mentioned before I don’t have OCD, but anxiety issues; there were parts of the book where I could relate to Aza’s mental health and constant moments of being a prisoner in her own mind and having internal conversations with herself. Some parts of the book were very eye opening at how OCD isn’t “a need to have everything perfectly tidy” as I’ve joked around about in the past, but something more that really does control how a person functions and can prevent them from having a normal life and in some cases making horrible decisions based on the mental argument they have with themselves.

        I really enjoyed Turtles all the Way Down; it was a nice alternative to the usual John Green protagonist of teenage boys feeling the need to prove something about themselves, or being fixated on ‘the girl’. Aza and her friends were really fun and even the main conflict of Aza’s OCD causing problems in her life her friends and family still love and care for her.

        I give Turtles all the Way Down by John Green four Star Wars fanfics out of five.

The Internet and Jerks

Let’s just skip padding and say that there’s alot of jerks on the internet. There’s also alot of opinions, most of them being illiterate and mean spirited. No this isn’t about a personal experience, I’ve learned my lesson with the internet and it’s jerks, this is about a woman named Anita Sarkeesian and a game reviewer I decided to stop watching around February.

First let me say I have a great amount of respect for Anita Sarkeesian. I have learned alot from her videos on feminism and gender equality and appreciate her work very much. There are some things I disagree with, but should the opportunity present itself that I can actually have a conversation with her I would like to discuss them in a appropriate and educated manner. It’s not news that she’s had negative backlash from the gamer community for her critique of the portrayal of woman in gaming being treated as damsels in distress, sex objects, totally worth killing, and secondary to male protagonists. My reasoning for supporting her and being a feminist? I know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on race and sexual orientation. From those experiences I would rather no one ever be discriminated against.

Anita Sarkeesian was recently named one of Time Magazines most influential people; some boys in the gaming industry are not happy about that. One of them being a game reviewer I use to be a fan of. I won’t say his name because that leads to trolling, name calling, and negative feed back on alot of parties. I’ll give this video game reviewer respect and privacy. It all started about last January; my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer, before then I was in a bad position emotionally concerning a former boyfriend, and just really wanted something to feel happy again. I had just gotten into gaming and was debating on getting a Wii Fit, after looking through youtube I found this reviewers channel and found him charming and a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda. I had been warned by another friend that this guy was probably a jerk in real life under the guidance that “no one is that handsome and nice in real life”.

I gave this reviewer the benefit of the doubt; he had some different interests compared to my own. He hates Harry Potter with a passion, hates anime, and is a little too fond of collecting large amounts of shoes. Then his opinions started popping up when i started following him on twitter and tumblr. He started becoming less and less charming, granted he had his own point of view on what feminism was based on the thoughts and opinions of other feminists. More and more posts began to show though that despite being a fairly nice guy, this individual was part of the gaming community that attacked Anita Sarkeesian.

I stopped following him in February because of a live stream he was doing where he bragged about “rocking the world of an actress playing Aurora/Sleeping Beauty orally” leading me to realize what he really was. I popped in a view of his tumblr and twitter once in a blue moon because despite him being an awful person had a good idea of what games were pretty good. Then today happened.

He began directly attacking Anita Sarkeesian directly on twitter pissed off over Time Magazine recognizing her. I didn’t bother reading the rest, but it was very annoying. Not annoying to see another person taking cheap shots at someone who worked hard to where she is now, but studied harder than most people do to get her degrees and fought to have this injustice recognized while this gamer is just a ballet dancer who reviews games and evidently gives oral to woman who work at Disney theme parks.

The depressing thing is I do have male friends that share the whole “there is no gender inequality. It’s all in your head” attitude, that roll their eyes when I begin to speak about feminism. THe kinds of guys that don’t accept that their perspective of the world might be wrong.

I’m not sure how to end this blog post, but I will say that this isn’t the end of  the debate and I hope for the success in Anita’s mission.

Wild at Heart (it’s crap)

A few months ago a friend suggested I read Wild at Heart because most christian men like it. I’m going to assume those men are extreme right wing conservatives going through a midlife crisis and have had little to no troubles in life outside of being bored and unsatisfied with life.

The idea that the only way to be ‘alive in Christ’ through the form of adventure does sound interesting at first, but then talk that only masculine men do adventures and all men are called to it and every other man is a lost cause and can never fully ‘know God’ is very idiotic. Most of John Eldredge’s views on ‘what brings men closer to Christ’ is pretty hypocritical to Jesus’ actual teachings of love, charity, and mercy.

Don’t get me started on the sexism present in this book.

I actually can get behind the idea though that people do need to disconnect from their phones, tablets, computers, and whatever else they find themselves connected to and enjoy nature and try to encourage that same nature onto one’s children. Sadly these thoughts are lost within the “boys and men need to live dangerous wives while mom is just glad no one is bothering her in the kitchen.”

No one should ever read this book. Read anything else please; read the Bhagevad Ghita, read His Dark Materials, Read the actual Bible if you want to feel a connection to God or Christ!