Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Pages: 286 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Blurb

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.

The Review

Turtles All the Way Down is a brave novel.

I say this for many reasons. The first reason being that this book is the first release from John Green since the epically successful The Fault in Our Stars; comparisons are bound to happen. People may have been expecting another gut wrenching tearjerker or to be completely emotionally immersed into the characters world in the same way as before. The second reason is that John Green has chosen to tackle a topic that is so on trend at the moment – this being mental health – that the worry is that he isn’t going to do it justice. Other writers’ may do it better. However, John Green needn’t have worried.

Turtles All the Way Down, as I said before, is brave. Having read many stories based on mental health I can genuinely say that I felt Aza’a compulsions. Her obsession with things that she cannot control became oppressive and you found yourself feeling both sorry for her but also understanding her need.

Furthermore, what John Green did (which is often missed out of the stories I have read previously) he discussed how hard mental illness is on those around the sufferer. He didn’t make the story evenly balanced because essentially it is Aza’s issue but we saw how the people who cared about her struggle – her mum not wanting to lose her, her best friend Daisy always feeling a few steps behind and her would be boyfriend Davis who can’t get as close as he would like to Aza.

So, Turtles All the Way Down is nothing like The Fault in Our Stars and if you are expecting it to be the same or similar then you may be disappointed. Taken as a separate entity, then John Green has written a really impressive and stark story about mental health.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is available now.

For more information regarding John Green please visit www.johngreenbooks.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinTeen) please visit www.penguinteen.com.

4 Stars

Modern RomanceTitle: Modern Romance

Author: Aziz Ansari

Pages: 253 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s most popular and sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighbourhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analysed behavioural data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humour book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humour with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

The Review

Comedian Aziz Ansari takes a anthropological view at romance in the 21st century in his book Modern Romance. He looks at how it has evolved over the last hundred years and how millennials are finding the dating game just so damn hard.

It is almost taboo to admit that you meet someone on the internet. I know a few people who have met their other half via dating apps or swiping right. They have gone on to have lasting relationships and even got married. The problem is that, ironically, it doesn’t seem an organic way to meet someone. The irony is that more modern romancers dating apps are the new organic. It’s not like in the 70s where you had the slow dance part of the evening, or medieval times when a woman would be promised to a man with a dowry and some cattle.

Ansari’s study is really interesting and at times witty. The overall message is that it doesn’t matter how you meet someone as long as they make you feel good then you should pursue the relationship.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari is available now.

For more information regarding Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) please visit www.azizansari.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

3 Stars

Modern LoversTitle: Modern Lovers

Author: Emma Straub

Pages: 358 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

From the “New York Times” bestselling author of “The Vacationers,” a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college their own kids now going to college and what it means to finally grow up well after adulthood has set in.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions be they food, or friendship, or music never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.”

The Review

Emma Straub’s latest book is about people. Seems simple enough to say but once you get into Modern Lovers you realise that there is nothing more complex or more fragile in this world than the lives of humans.

Modern Lovers centres on a group of ‘incestuous’ friends and their children and the lives that they lead in modern day New York. Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe were all once in a band, however, having grown up and settled down their lives become seemingly humdrum and work-a-day. It is only with the prospect of a film being made about their band that they begin to understand just how much life has changed for them.

I didn’t love Modern Lovers, in fact to begin with I really struggled to get into it. However, I persevered and realised that it is actually quite fascinating and that Emma Straub has woven a complex web of characters whose lives entangle (and strangle?) them. They run the risk of existing and not living. Straub manages to make the mundane come to life.

An element that I really loved about this book was the innocent nature of first love. Straub’s portrayal of this between Harry and Ruby was sweet but realistic. It was everything first love should be. Emma Straub got this right.

If you pick Modern Lovers up to read then please make sure you stick with it. It seems a bit slow at first but the tension and drama does pick up to the point that you cannot put it down.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is available from June 30th 2016.

Follow Emma Straub (@emmastraub) on Twitter and for more information please visit her official website www.emmastraub.net.

For further titles from Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

3 Stars