Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Powerful New Angle On Mental Illness: Challenger Deep

Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary (Mental Illness)
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

After finishing this book, all I could really think was one word:

Wow for the character development.
Wow for the narration.
Wow for the uncertainty of what the reality of this book is.
Wow for the delicate handling of mental illness.
Wow for this beautifully written book.

Challenger Deep was one of those cases where the narrative structure really aided in consolidating the themes of the novel. The very short, quick chapters mirrored the erratic nature of Caden's thoughts. The book is confusing, yes, but I feel like it's supposed to be. It's trying to show you how it is to suffer from a mental illness, and trying to show you how it feels for Caden to have his reality slowly slip away.

I don't want to say too much about the weird alternate reality where Caden is on a ship heading for the Challenger Deep (the deepest point in the Mariana Trench) for fear that it might spoil you. What I will say is that the Captain was one volatile bastard and you were never sure whether it was him you could trust, or the Parrot. Caden faces the dilemma of whether to betray the captain or whether to stick with him, and this closely correlates with how Caden progresses in dealing with his illness.

To be honest, I'm not going to say much more about this novel. It's one of those ones that you should go into blind, and think about and analyse after you've read it. But if there's one thing you should think about as you read the book it should be: who is the Captain?

Challenger Deep was a truly powerful novel that pushes the boundaries of how you view mental illness. It's a novel that absolutely everyone should give a try.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4.5/5