Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Posted May 5, 2015 by Emily in Review / 1 Comment

Cover Challenger DeepChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Release Date: Out Now

This book was a difficult read. Not because it was badly written or uninteresting. It was difficult because it was so incredibly well written. This book’s subject was heavy and at points it was hard to carry on. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth while. This is a book that will continue to hold your thoughts long after you put it down.

I didn’t know much about this book before I picked it up. I knew I liked Neal Shusterman. I knew I wanted to read this book. I knew what the back cover said.

“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.”

This was both a good and a bad way to read this book. I will let you decide if you want to know more.

Before I read this book, I didn’t know that it was about mental illness. The first half of the book details Caden’s descent into paranoia. Its a deeply disturbing and confusing slide. The chapters alternate with Caden’s fantasy world on a pirate ship traveling to the Marianas Trench and Caden in the real world. Throughout the first half of the book, Caden loses touch with the real world more and more. He tells his father someone is trying to kill him, he stops drawing and starts walking for hours in the afternoon.

Without knowing that the book is about mental illness, it was hard to follow at the beginning. I knew something was off but I wasn’t 100% sure what. It wasn’t until about the midpoint of the book when everything began to come together.  All the characters who Caden meets and interacts with on the pirate ship and his real life friends and acquaintances begin to blend together.

I really liked this book but it was hard to read. It’s the kind of book that changes your thinking and sticks with you forever. It was obviously a deeply personal book for Neal Shusterman. His son, Ben, struggles with schizoaffective disorder. Ben Shusterman did all of the illustrations for the book. I think that mental illness is severely misunderstood in our society. Hopefully this book and ones like it will help lessen the stigma of mental illness. and help people gain awareness and understanding

**DISCLAIMER: I received this book free from the Texas Library Association Conference.**


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One response to “Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

  1. I really want to read this one. In a way, I wish I had known less about it, like you did when you picked it up. But I’m sure it will be a beautiful – if painful – experience. Thanks for spreading the love!

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