A spoiler-free review of Challenger Deep by 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.

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 by far one of the best books I’ve read this year.

It’s such a beautiful story that really conveys the depth and horrors of mental illness, but also the little blue puzzle pieces of light and hope. The story is told through a dual perspective, one is real life, where Caden’s struggles of being at a mental hospital are shown. The other is a dream-like reality (at least that’s what I perceive it as), where Caden is on a ship heading for the Marianas Trench, the deepest place in the world.

This book doesn’t glorify mental illness, unlike so many other YA’s I’ve read. Instead, it brings you to the realization that mental illness doesn’t go away just like that, however, it can be managed. And there is ABSOLUTELY no fucking romance, which makes me insanely happy. I honestly will rip apart the next book I read where the love interest cures the main character of their mental struggles, because no, that just does. not. happen. I believe Mental illness is a personal struggle, and while others can certainly help, you’re the one who has to save yourself.

The story is also extremely personal. Neal Shusterman’s son, someone who has suffered from mental illness, drew very abstract, raw, and intimate (not in a sexual way lol) pictures to go along with the story. And I should note the drawings aren’t just randomly added in. Caden is an artist, and the artwork is supposedly his, which gave meaning to it. Despite most being just scribbles and stick figures, you can really see the emotions he was trying to convey in his drawings.

But, in all honesty, I don’t think readers of Challenger Deep will enjoy it. Mental illness is such a horrible, yet real thing, too many people have to go through every day. It isn’t fun to read about someones personal struggles and depression. So no, I don’t think anyone will like reading Challenger Deep, but I know many will appreciate the shit out of it.

 

Also before I wrap up I thought I might add my favorite quote from the book:

“The fear of not living is a deep, abiding dread of watching your own potential decompose into irredeemable disappointment when ‘should be’ gets crushed by what is. Sometimes I think it would be easier to die than to face that, because ‘what could have been’ is much more highly regarded than ‘what should have been.’ Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”

Because yes, dead kids get put on pedestals, and mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug. It’s undeniably true, and I believe that truth is why so many people contemplate suicide.

★★★★★

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10 thoughts on “A spoiler-free review of Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.

  1. Lovely review! I’m definitely adding this to my TBR! This past week I was discussing with someone the fact that I wanted a novel that covered mental illness by focusing on the person who was struggling and their struggle rather than having all these side-plots, or romance like you said. This looks like exactly the book I was looking forward. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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