400 Billion Tons of Bacteria

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Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Genre: YA/Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publishing Date: October 10, 2017

Pages: 286 [hardcover]

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Aza, similar to most other sixteen year olds, enjoys watching TV, going for long drives blasting music and dreaming of college. She’s also tortured by her thoughts; she describes her invasive thoughts as an ever tightening spiral. Her anxiety towards germs and death overwhelms her, usually at the most inopportune moments. She tries to overcome these thoughts with help from Dr. Singh, her best friend Daisy and her mother.

Aza reunites with an old friend, Davis, whose billionaire father has recently disappeared after being caught laundering millions. Aza and Daisy are intrigued by the $100,000 reward for any information about Russell Picketts’ whereabouts. At the same time, they are befriending Davis and don’t want to hurt or betray him.

Nevertheless, they are all invested in finding out what happened to Russell Pickett. Even Davis, who knows that the billions will be inherited by his father’s lizard.

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What I️ Liked:

First of all, I was pleased to find this young adult novel not only deals with typical teenage issues but includes a real-deal crime intertwined into the plot. Furthermore, I️ relished in how much I️ learned from Turtles All the Way Down, and not just about mental disorders.

As Aza is terrified by bacteria, C. diff in particular, I became interested in the vast amount of bacteria surrounding and inside of us.

“The thing about C. diff is that it’s inside of everyone. We all have it, lurking there; it’s just that sometimes it grows out of control and takes over and begins attacking your insides.”

“The combined weight of all large animals in the world-human, cow, penguin, shark- is around 1.1 billion tons. The combined weight of the earth’s bacteria is 400 billion tons. They overwhelm us.”

I latched onto the passages about outer space; Davis is highly interested in astrology and often gets lost, simultaneously finding himself, while looking at the stars. I was even inspired to download a few astrology/constellation apps onto my phone. Now that I understand what it means to travel at the speed of light and what exactly “light-years” are, I feel abundantly more knowledgeable and enlightened.

“It means if we were traveling at the speed of light, it would take is forty-five minutes to get from Earth to Jupiter, so the Jupiter we’re seeing right now is actually Jupiter forty-five minutes ago.”

“And then Navi, which is 550 light-years away. It’s not only that we aren’t close to them; they aren’t close to one another. For all we know, Navi blew up five hundred years ago. ‘Wow’ I️ said. ‘So, you’re looking at the past.'”

Lastly, I love animals and often find myself lost in the worlds of Animal Planet, Planet Earth and National Geographic. I’ll admit I had zero awareness on the existence of Tuaturas, but after Turtles All the Way Down sparked my interest, I did a great deal of research. They are quite the interesting creature.

photo credit: http://animal-wildlife.blogspot.com/2011/08/tuatara.html

Did you know Tuaturas have been around for at least 200 million years and are considered dinosaurs? They live for 100-150 years and don’t stop growing until they’re 30. Tuaturas have three eyes and can hear even though they don’t have ears, making their hearing organs the most primitive known to man-kind. Their body temperature is lower than any other reptile at 40°F. They weight 1-2 pounds, on average. They like cooler weather & are nocturnal, unlike any other lizard.

Now back to the review: several book reviewers were frustrated with the unlikely characters: insightful teenagers who enjoy poetry, classic literature and astrology. But they were also Star Wars, college and exploring sexually. While the characters weren’t stereotypical, there are teenagers who appreciate these types of things. I found zero frustration by this.

Finally, AS I KNOW YOU’RE ALL INTERESTED BY THE TITLE, this book does not contain any turtles. The phrase ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ was a philosophical phrase about mental regression far before this book was published.

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What I️ Didn’t Like:

Unanswered questions!!! I closed the book wanting to know a lot more.

i liked turtles

My Rating: 


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My Next Read: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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Happy Reading,

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