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.
I was super nervous going into reading this novel, I have tried to read John Green’s other novels but I simply didn’t enjoy any, except The Fault In Our Stars. I just didn’t know where this one would fall for me, but I’m so happy that I loved it. It’s definitely one of my favourite YA books on mental illness that I’ve ever read.
What sets John Green apart and makes him,extremely popular in the YA genre, is the fact that he writes knowledgeable teenage characters. He doesn’t discount teenagers as unintelligent due to their developing brains. He recognizes that teenagers, in real life are able to comprehend complex concepts. Because of this, his characters are so startlingly relatable. I think Aza is an especially relatable character for me with her struggles with anxiety. The way Green describes her experiences with anxiety spoke to me so intensely. Specifically the metaphor of the spiral. Blew my mind in all honesty. Green definitely has a talent for metaphors, I never get sick of it. He’s always had a way of finding the perfect words to describe that which seems indescribable. Seeing him use this technique regarding mental illness was fascinating. I think if you do, or ever have, suffered from mental illness, you will vastly appreciate his narrative.
I found this story to be very different than John Green’s other novels. Not in a bad way at all, but the plot was much more subtle. There are two plots happening simultaneously really, one internally and one externally. You think you’re following the one and then it turns out the other is the central focus. The way the two were interwoven was genius.
I think this has been written in a way that will appeal to both the next generation of YA readers as well as the aging generation of YA readers. Typically John Green’s novels have the romance as a main focal point, and I LOVE my romances. Here the romance takes a back seat, and I actually liked it, it was done in such a nice way. The front seat is occupied by Aza’s own personal mental health journey.
Overall, this made me SO happy that John Green is returning to the world of YA. It was on of the most authentic representations of mental illness I’ve ever read and I’m so glad I went in with an open mind. You can tell he is writing about something he’s extremely familiar with. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next (I hope he has plans to write more!)