Challenger Deep

By Neal Shusterman

Plot: Caden Bosch is a 15 year old kid who is slowly descending deeper into mental illness. He has lost his grip on reality, in two places at once. Sometimes he is visiting a pirate ship heading to the deepest part of the ocean, and sometimes he is participating in the real world. Will he ever recover?

Writing: I was blown away by this book. Neal uses such meaningful language and everything is so beautiful! Everything in the plot was thought provoking. Basically, the book follows two timelines: One is the sea voyage Caden is taking in his head, and the other is what is going on in the real world. It starts out pretty separated, with chapters in between the events, but as Caden descends into insanity, the lines blur and he switches between the points of view. Everything in his dreamworld represents something going on in his life. Some parts even represent hsi insanity, and you have to think hard to find the connections. It was a beautifully sad and meaningful book.

Age Level: I’d say ages 14-18. It is a pretty mature topic for younger kids, who might not be able to handle the ideas in this book about mental illness. It is a little bit depressing too.

Overall: I am crazy in love with this book. The whole mood of the book was detached, and everything was all over the place, and yet somehow it made sense. I have no idea how Neal Shusterman was able to weave this masterpiece, but I am very glad he did.

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