“It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
This. Book. Destroyed. Me.
I’ve always known that John Green was a fantastic author – it kind of just goes without saying. With books like The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns gaining even more popularity with hollywood films, there had to be something to his writing that just spoke to people.
This book was no exception. I got this book on Tuesday when it came out. I pillaged through the singular box of signed copies that we got at work to find one with the perfect signature. Upon getting home, I had a decision to make. Did I drop everything that I was currently reading and start this one? Or did I continue with the other FOUR books that I was part way through and save this one for next weekend during Readathon? Eventually, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to know if after an almost six year hiatus, if John Green could still wow me. Spoiler: He absolutely can.
In my opinion, this is the best John Green novel yet. (To the rabid fans of TFIOS, please do not unfollow me. Or hunt me down.) Aza is an amazing and complex character. She is someone who struggles daily with extreme anxiety and OCD – and I don’t mean OCD in the way that a lot of people use it, but that’s a conversation for another day. As a person who does not experience these mental health problems, I can’t even begin to understand how something like that feels. I don’t know if his portrayal is perfectly accurate – but I do know that everyone faces things differently and Aza’s struggle is definitely accurate for someone. Unfortunately, in a lot of literature (both young adult and adult), sometimes mental health issues such as anxiety or OCD can be romanticized. It generally shows up as a quirk, something charming that the main character is known for. Almost always someone says that it’s adorable, or that they love it about them. Aza is not quirky. Aza is mentally ill – and there is nothing wrong with that. I mean, obviously there is something wrong, but the shame and guilt that she feels about being mentally ill is heartbreaking and raw. No one should ever have to feel that way. I’m getting emotional just writing about it.
In order to cut my rant about the stigma surrounding mental health short, I’m going to move on to Davis. Billionaire teen. Poet. A little too “deep” for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good character, and a good character for Aza, but in my personal opinion, if I was forced to spend a large amount of time with him I would probably be pretty intellectually exhausted. Maybe that says more about my ability to keep an intelligent conversation than it does about Davis – but sometimes you just have to lighten up dude. Not everything needs to be a classic literature quote.
So, in closing, despite the fact that I found the male character a little bit on the… odd side, I did really enjoy this book. Although the mystery wasn’t exactly amazing, that really wasn’t the whole point. The story of Aza and her revelations, and her struggle with the ever tightening spiral, that was the point. For anyone that might deal with mental illness, or if you know someone who is suffering from a mental health problem, pick up this book and take a step into the world of one girl (among millions) and listen to her story. You won’t regret it.