Young Adult

Review: Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman

(Summary and cover from the publisher’s website)

Thank you to NetGalley & Walker Books for a free ebook copy of this book.


Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman, Walker Books



Young Adult


Trigger Warnings

Mental illness; suicidal thoughts; self-mutilation mentioned; abuse mentioned



336 (Paperback)



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 behaviour. 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.



10 / 10



There is one word that comes to mind when you close this book and its: heart-wrenching.

There is absolutely no way this will leave you unmoved. It’s a beautiful, raw, true, and emotional tale that will grip you and never let you go. This is YA literature at its absolute best – raw, touching, funny, and real. It shows how terribly hard topics can be made into beautiful stories, that show the horrible sides of life’s hardships, but also how it can be turned into something pure.

I dove headfirst into the story two pages in. Though it might be a bit confusing at first, you quickly start to see the similarities between the “reality” and the “dreams”. On one side, there is the sea life of Caden, where he’s stranded on a strange boat, on its way to Challenger Deep. On that boat, there is a crew of strange sailors, monitored by a creepy captain and his parrot. Slowly, you start to see how that boat is an illusion – or a dream, or a vision. Suddenly, the sailors become fellow patients, members of staff. Suddenly, you’re thrown into how Caden thinks and feels. Through brilliant use of the English language, Neal Shusterman makes us passengers of Caden’s ride through mental illness. You’ll be able to see what it’s like to dissociate, what depression feels like, how scary illusions can be.

The way Shusterman managed to transcribe what a person suffering from mental illness feels like, what life is like, is just extremely on point. It’s up there with Vazzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. You just know it’s something he’s lived through (though indirectly) and the rightness of the words, how heartfelt they are, is the best proof there can be.

This book has taken all the words out of my brain, transforming them into a bunch of raw feelings. It’s simply brilliant, and deserves to be read by every single person who’s ever suffered or seen someone else suffer.
If you find yourself hesitating to pick this novel up, don’t hesitate anymore – it’s a true masterpiece.


To read if…

You’re not afraid of crying. Otherwise, just pick it up!

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