Book Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
May 18, 2015
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.
As soon as I heard that it was based in part on Shusterman’s son’s experiences, I knew I had to read this book about a boy’s battle with mental illness. Shusterman asked his son for permission before writing the book, and his son’s drawings are incorporated throughout the story. Knowing his personal connection to the material in this work of fiction makes the novel even more powerful.
On The Plus Side:
- I love how this novel is a first person account of mental illness, and it truly gives you a snapshot of what it must feel like to be in the head of someone with significant mental illness.
- I found the addition of Shusterman’s son’s drawings to be educational as well. It makes you realize that it is not only a person’s thinking that is off kilter in mental illness, but several other areas of functioning as well.
- The characters all help to further the plot and help develop your understanding of mental illness – not only what the person with mental illness experiences, but his/her family and friends as well.
- The writing can be difficult at times, but it is so appropriate and so amazing at helping to further the plot.
On the Minus Side:
- Even though you know this book is about mental illness, and even though you know that what you are reading is what someone with mental illness is experiencing, the beginning of this book can be a little confusing and difficult to get used to. I think it is necessary to the story so don’t let it deter you!
I was so moved by this book, and I think you will be as well. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn more about the experiences of mental illness.
Have you read Challenger Deep? What did you think? What other books on mental illness would you recommend?