Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Posted April 16, 2015 by Sara | Novel Novice 0 Comments

A difficult, but deeply moving story about one boy’s struggle with mental illness, Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is today’s teen version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

challenger deepCaden 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.

Challenger Deep is a stunning book, but difficult to read as you watch Caden’s descent into mental illness — and his struggle between succumbing to the world inside his head, or fighting for reality. It is sad to watch him go through this, and yet it is eye-opening in ways other books about mental illness rarely are. Shusterman has used his own son’s experiences to lend the book such authenticity. Challenger Deep is startling and honest in its portrayal, and is all the more powerful for it.

Shusterman’s elegant writing carries the story through its darkest moments, and his son’s illustrations help make the story feel real. And though Caden’s spiral into mental illness is heartbreaking, the message of Challenger Deep is ultimately hopeful and uplifting. It is raw and honest, and so the message is that not all cases of mental illness can have such positive outcomes — but the book still shows that there is hope.

Challenger Deep is in stores April 21st.

Sara | Novel Novice

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