'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 30 January 2021

Review: Challenger Deep

We loved this one so much, we're featuring it again. See what Karen Mitchell makes of this fascinating YA novel.

Caden Bosch is a complicated young man. Torn between two different paths; one path that is seen as normal while the other more eccentric.

A brilliant high school student whose change in behaviour is soon noticed by his friends.

Caden has been selected as the artist in residence on board a ship destined for the deepest point on Earth. Known as Challenger Deep, this is located in the southern part of the Marianas Trench. His job is to record the journey in images but his mind is divided between allegiance and mutiny.

Caden is experiencing an altered reality that demonstrates the real fear, paranoia, mania and depression that accompanies mental illness.

The depths of despair that author Neal Shusterman has witnessed first hand provides an authenticity to the story.

The torment of schizophrenia on the sufferer and their family can be debilitating. Though it also highlights that with the right treatment, the illness can be sent into remission and sufferers can find their blue sky amongst the clouds and live with the disease.

The inclusion of sketches within the book translate the vortex of emotions that are suffered as Caden tries to discover what is real or what is imagined.

It explores Caden’s feelings of numbness and the dulling of senses that come with treatment and the disconnect that can happen with those who love him. His relationship with his sister Mackenzie provides an insight into their feelings of helplessness when a family member falls into the abyss.

This powerful, moving story encourages tolerance and understanding of what it is like to suffer with a mental illness and that there is hope and understanding in the world.

Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Walker Books, $18.99
Publication Date: 6 August 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406396118
For ages: 14 +
Type: Young Adult Fiction

Read our original review by Jo Antareau for even deeper insight into Challenger Deep.