Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

HarperCollins Summary:

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.

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 teenage boy descending into the world of schizophrenia.  His parents become alarmed when his symptoms begin to interfere with his real life.  The book is split up into two storylines:  Caden’s real world and Caden’s fantasy world.  Sometimes the two worlds come together and cause problems for Caden.

Readers may get a little frustrated with managing the two storylines but this style of writing is necessary to show how difficult it is for Caden to keep things sorted out for himself.  The book is beautifully written and was inspired by Schusterman’s own personal experience of watching his son Brendan, descend into schizophrenia.  Brendan even lent his personal drawings for the book to show what it is like to live with schizophrenia.

Just like Caden’s mind, it isn’t always clear where the story is going.   You might feel a little frustrated when you begin reading it but don’t stop reading it.  After a while you begin to sense the chaos within Caden’s mind because of this writing style.  There are some really beautiful moments that help the reader understand why Kaden’s fantasy world is so appealing.

This book is important because it brings about an awareness of mental illness.  And that mental illness can happen to almost anyone; even to people who have always seemed “normal”.

This book is a fascinating read; worthy of the National Book Award. 


  •  National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2015)
  •  Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2016)
  • Booklist starred
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books starred
  • Horn Book Guide starred
  • Kirkus Reviews starred
  • Publishers Weekly starred
  • School Library Journal starred
  • Texas-Tayshas High School Reading List 2016
  • Voice of the Youth Advocates (VOYA)
  • Utah-Kiss The Book 2015: Secondary

Neal Shusterman discussing Challenger Deep: