Do You Have a Favorite Novelist? – New York Times

John Green has written a new young adult novel, his first since “The Fault in Our Stars” (2012), and in some ways it is very much a John Green production.

It features a small cast of tenderhearted, manically articulate teenagers. (Green does Aaron Sorkin better than Aaron Sorkin does Aaron Sorkin.) They’re irrepressible nerds. (Among the festive topics they discuss: geography, astronomy, the hermeneutics of Star Wars.) As always, one of the girls is a tornado of enthusiasm and high drama, prone to announcements like, “I have a crisis,” when really it’s a fun crisis she’s having.

And there’s loss. Death, parting, existential questions about what it all means — they’re never far from Green’s mind. People die and disappear a lot in his books, and his adolescent characters spend a lot of time channeling their inner philosophers, trying to make sense of love and suffering. “The Fault in Our Stars,” which was simultaneously an implacable tragedy and a screwball comedy about two teenage cancer patients, was of a piece with everything Green has ever done.

There are few subjects more upsetting than young people with cancer. But Green’s latest book, “Turtles All the Way Down,” is somehow far darker, not so much because of the subject matter — though that’s dark too — but because of how he chooses to write about it. This novel is by far his most difficult to read. It’s also his most astonishing.


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