CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, Brendan Shusterman
Published by Harper Teen on April 21st 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, Mental Illness, Young Adult
eBook provided by The Library

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Challenger Deep is a deeply powerful and personal novel by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.
A captivating story about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, the novel features haunting interior illustrations by Neal Shusterman's son Brendan.Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary."

Reading time 2 mins

I got this book from the library. I have been meaning to read it for myself ever since I read this review on Feed Your Fiction Addiction. I am happy to say that Challenger Deep was as good as I had hoped.

This book is about one young mans journey into the abyss that is mental illness and how he came out of it. Caden is a very smart high school student who is having trouble fitting in in school all of a sudden. His friends are starting to notice his behavior is not right. He pretends to join the track team and spends his afternoons wondering the streets. Caden is also on a ship that is headed for the challenger deep, the deepest part of the ocean. Caden is promoted to ship artist and is part of the inner circle on the ship. He is torn between loyalty to the captain and his mutinous parrot. The parrot seems to be trying to help, but he is very torn.

This book was a journey into madness. Caden’s story is hard to digest. Since he can’t tell what is delusion and what is real, we are along for just along for the journey. At no point does Caden ask for help. He doesn’t understand that his reality is not normal. We just get that he is on this ship, but before he got there he was having trouble at home. The story alternates between the ship’s journey and the odd behavior that got him there. Caden’s sea voyage is a metaphor for his recovery. Caden’s story is smart and funny. It is heartbreaking and frightening.

This story is most profound because it is based on a true story. The author’s son, Brandon, lived through this. The story is told with the help of Brandon and all the illustrations are his. This book is so well written. We really get only Caden’s POV and is story is something I could not put down. The story is told in short scattered chapters signifying the scattered thoughts of the main character. I just got this book two days ago and I tried to read the first few pages to see if it grabbed my interest. I ended up devouring the book. This book is important because it highlights one young man’s journey, but many people struggle with schizoaffective disorder so this book should be taken seriously.

My Rating


About the Author

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Bruiser, which was a Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) choice, a YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and on twelve state lists; The Schwa Was Here; and the Unwind dystology, among many other books. He lives in California with his four children.

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