Published in 2017
5 out of 5 stars
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.
Let’s Talk about the Plot:
I actually really enjoyed this book, which frankly, sounds odd, because there were some parts that I found completely agonising (like when Aza constantly fed herself hand sanitizer, because she thought it was helping her). But honestly, the plot constantly kept me intrigued. There was quite a bit of mystery to it, and I honestly didn’t know what would happen next, and the writing didn’t feel too forced, everything flowed perfectly and the characters felt really real and relatable. Definitely my new favourite John Green, I didn’t actually think I’d enjoy this, the only book of his I wholly enjoyed was The Fault in Our Stars, but this one had me wholly invested in Aza and her journey. I really liked the mystery aspect too, I had no idea what might’ve happened to Davis’s dad, but I knew I needed to find out.
Let’s talk about the characters:
Aza definitely was a character I related to; I admit, when I was younger I used to be a hypochondriac, forever obsessing about germs and illness. To this day, part of me still thinks about this and once that switch is triggered, it’s hard to turn off. Now, although Aza wasn’t exactly that, she definitely, I would say, was worried about germs in her body and for that, I could definitely relate. Even to the extent where she wouldn’t kiss someone, I have been there. I was once (and perhaps still am) terrified of too many germs entering my system. Anyway, I know I’m stalling, but I will say Aza was a loving daughter and a loyal friend, even though she wasn’t always mentally there for Daisy. I actually enjoyed, in fact I found it refreshing, because she was written so human. Her thoughts summed up how I’ve felt about things in the past, and honestly my heart ached for her mental pain. I just wanted her to realise that she is an amazing human that’s doing her best.
I’ll also never not think of her when I see or use hand sanitizer again, truthfully. The parts where she drank it chilled me, honestly I ached that she had to go to that extreme and how she thought she was so insufficient. Even though I couldn’t exactly relate to these aspects of her personality, I definitely found Aza to be one of the most relatable characters, and it’s a total surprise that this book is a new favourite. I need more characters like Aza in my life.
I loved Daisy too! I absolutely adored her friendship with Aza, and I’m glad Daisy sort of pushed Aza in to realising certain things, even if it lead to a nail biting scene. Both characters complimented each other perfectly, to be honest: and Daisy really loved Aza; they were always there for one another, just in different ways. And I thought Daisy’s Star Wars obsession was fun, definitely a quirky aspect to the story, with her passion for Chewbacca and Rey and writing Star Wars fic. Some of the scenes mentioning this really made me laugh, and actually the same can be said for Daisy. At times she was a really funny character, and at times she was definitely what Aza needed, I think.
Davis was great too, he was constantly going through his own grief, his father’s disappearance being the context of the mystery in the book, and I definitely felt for him. I loved reading his blog entries, with quotes from people such as Shakespeare and Terry Pratchett, which echoed Davis’s thoughts. I really liked his scenes with Aza too, I feel like both characters went really well together, and he was really understanding of her nature. Their scenes were written so simply, it was utterly wonderful and refreshing; and I love how much he cared for Noah, his younger brother. It was so precious reading the parts where Davis was talking about Noah, I really felt for those two.
Let’s Talk About the Writing:
I was addicted. This book has reawakened my faith in John Green. The Fault in Our Stars has always been a long time favourite book of mine, and this beauty is definitely standing proud next to it. I’ll read this again, easily. It was such a unique story and the writing was packed full of everything, it made me laugh, cry and flail with sad frustration at times, and Aza has definitely helped how I see things in life, so I’m definitely grateful for this book.
Until next time, happy reading.