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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

National Book Award Finalist 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 a deeply powerful and personal novel from one of today's most admired writers for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant …

Challenger Deep

by Neal Shusterman

Overall Book Review:

Schizophrenia is not a mental illness that I typically associate with teens, but when I looked at some charts and studies online, I saw that after the age of 14, the number of people with schizophrenia spikes quite drastically. The first reason to read this book? To become informed about how mental illnesses can affect families and people of all ages. The second reason to read this book? Because it is written in a way that both teens and adults will be able to relate to. I could list more reasons, but I’ll stop at two, because I have more important things to get to.

Caden Bosch, the protagonist in this astounding book, is on a journey. At first I wasn’t sure where he was going, and I don’t think he really knew either–maybe no one did. However, by the end of the book things clear up quite a bit. Reality and imagination crossover a lot in this book. For the most part, it is easy to identify which chapters are real life, and what is stemming from Caden’s imagination, but there are times it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.

This book is a great stepping stone for anyone who wants to learn more about, or discuss mental illness. There is a lot of shame and stigma around mental health, and it seems like we as a society are finally beginning to get a little more comfortable with the subject. Caden is a very real character that has some serious issues to work through, but this book helps shine a little light on how the process of treatment and healing looks, and how family and doctors can help facilitate that in a stable environment. I hope everyone who was so entranced with Shusterman’s previous books will pick this one up too.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  5 mild obscenities; 1 anatomical term.

Violence/Gore:  A video game is mentioned where the object is to kill innocent people; a boy is branded with an iron as a punishment; a deadly fire is reported to have occurred; a violent video game is mentioned; scary monsters are imagined by a minor; a minor is reported to have fallen into a well; a minor imagines an animal wants to kill him; a mass suicide is mentioned with no detail; a minor mentions a suicide attempt, and a brief description is given of how the minor tried to kill themself.

Sex/Nudity:  A minor-aged boy mentions a girl in underwear being dreamed about; a girls’ breasts are mentioned in a derogatory way.

Mature Subject Matter:

Mental illness, suicide, gambling, personal crisis.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Heroin use by a minor is mentioned; a minor is mentioned to have a drinking problem; teen drug use is suspected; parts are mentioned to be happy and drunk; a psychedelic drink is offered to minors.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.