by Neal Shusterman
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (April 21, 2015)
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A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.
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.
Challenger Deep is incredibly captivating. At first, you might be unsure as to what's going on but then you realize that's what Neal Shusterman intended. Honestly, this book was really difficult to read. Not because it isn't amazing (it is) but because it is so painful. It takes you on a very heartbreaking journey--one I wasn't ready for. The way this book explains mental illness is really innovative and very realistic. It manages the impossible: to describe the helplessness and anguish that exists in mental illness patients when they can no longer manage the real world.
The novel includes illustrations to visually represent the struggles of a sick mind. They are so powerful, especially when you learn in the author's note that they were done by his son when he was struggling with his mental health. The drawings are so intimate and vulnerable that I spent quite a bit of time examining them. They'll take your breath away.
You don't know what's wrong with the main character until later in the book but you still feel for him. I cared a lot about Caden and I wanted to understand why he was suffering so much. His different "reality" was intense and terrifying, which made me care about the outcome. Everything had a Patrick Ness feel to it so you'll enjoy this if you like that kind of writing style.
Challenger Deep is unique and powerful. While it might be a little confusing at times, the novel really has a lot to offer. I think it depicts mental illness in a very raw and brilliant way. I loved it so much that I moved all of my unread Neal Shusterman novels to the top of my TBR pile. So, you know, you should read it. Just keep in mind that you might need a couple of tissues.