Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: Challenger Deep

Title:  Challenger Deep
Series:  None
Author:  Neal Shusterman
Genre:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Publication Date:  April 21, 2015
Source:  Bought

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.
A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

Find Challenger Deep online
I really wasn't sure what I expect while reading this book.  I've never read a book by Neal Shusterman before so it was a totally new experience to me.  If I'm being totally honest, for the first eighty pages of this book, I was unsure what exactly was going on.  I had my suspicions this book focused on mental illness but the dual story lines threw me off.  It wasn't until about a quarter through that I read the Author's Note and realized it was about schizophrenia.  After that, I was really able to dive into this story.

I haven't read many books that focused largely on the main character's struggle with mental illness.  However, I thought that the way this book was written was pure.  Genius.  Seriously.  Throughout the story, we see Caden struggling to understand what was happening to him and as a reader, you feel that so intimately because of the way this book was written and the dual story lines that are woven throughout.  I was able to come to appreciate my initial confusion since it mirrored Caden's in a way. But seriously, it was just so beautifully written.  

This book was also obviously written from a place of deep understanding and love.  The author discusses his experiences with schizophrenia and mental illness in the author's note, particularly in regards to his son who also has schizophrenia and actually contributed drawing to this book which represented the things he experienced.  It definitely made a heavier impact knowing that while reading.  

It's so important to have representation in YA and this book did an amazing job of representing people with mental illness in a way that was healthy, realistic, and productive.  It was honest and didn't sugar coat or romanticize mental illness.  I really hope we see more books like this come out in the industry.

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”  

  Four Teapots


  1. I agree that this isn't the type of book you can go into totally blind. The whole first half of the book can seem like nonsense if you don't know you're experiencing the world through the eyes of someone with schizophrenia. But once Shuster brings it all together (in the second half), you realize how brilliant he's been.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Definitely! It's so brilliantly done but I agree, it's a bit confusing in the beginning without any background information.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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