Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mini-Review: CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman

Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: April 21st, 2015
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
POV: 1st person
Pages: 320
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: electronic ARC | Hardcover
Source: Edelweiss | Purchased
Rating: Highly Enjoyed
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.

An unflinchingly honest, Challenger Deep delves into the shadowy and murky depths of mental illness, and does so in a creative yet respectful way. Chapters switch between what readers might call reality (Caden's everyday life | life in a hospital) and fantasy (Caden's fantastical journey to Marianas Trench, traveling on an ominous ship with quite the group of characters), but both are very real to Caden. The short chapters offer abrupt, brief glimpses into the mind of a young man who is struggling to navigate the world and his thoughts. This is a story unlike any other, and Challenger Deep is truly an incredible novel.

Highlights:  Caden's personality shines, his struggle is prominent, and I felt for him so much. The side characters are equally well written. While the ending is one of optimism, I appreciate that Shusterman also acknowledges the fact that mental illness is a battle - sometimes you end up right where you began, starting from scratch. But other times, you do get better (and I especially loved the support system that Caden has in this story - friends, family, doctors). The drawings, by Shusterman's son, add an even more authentic touch to an already impressive story, 

Lowlights: It takes a little time to adjust to the style of this story, since the chapters are so short and the switches happen regularly. The writing style is probably going to frustrate some readers, but if you can get into it, this story is incredible.

Final thoughts: Challenger Deep is an important story that expertly uses creativity to explore mental illness. I highly recommend this novel, it truly is excellent. 


  1. I'll admit, I did (briefly) try this book and was put off by the writing style. But it sounds as if it's worth giving it another try. Thanks for the review!

    1. It's a bizarre writing style, but if you can get into it (it took me about 50 or so pages), it's worth it. :)

  2. Gorgeous review Lea. <3 I'm so glad you liked this book :) You make it seem awesome. Sigh. Yay for it being a great story :D Though, heh, the writing seems a bit different :p but curious about it too :)

    1. It's such a great book! Very unique writing style, but that's what helps it stand out.