Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Release Date: 4/21/2015
Reviewed by: Kendall
Neal Shusterman is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author who is best known for his YA science fiction. With Challenger Deep, he has departed from sci-fi to create a brand new, and frankly utterly enchanting, realistic novel about a young boy that has a mental illness. The book is based on the author’s own experiences with mental illness – his son Brendan has schizophrenia. All the illustrations in the book are by Brendan and were done when he was hospitalized for his illness. It is a fact that one in three families is affected by mental illness, including my own. Living in a close relationship with someone who suffers from a mental illness is difficult, but living with a mental illness is close to impossible. I think that’s why I loved this book so much.
The YA universe is severely lacking in real, honest portrayals of young people with mental illnesses. There might be a handful of YA books about mental illness but rarely do we see a book that is narrated by a mentally ill teenager, from their point of view. By having Caden narrate Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman has broken a barrier. He gives us a dark, gritty, honest tale of what it’s really like living with a mental illness. The fear, the pain, the panic, and everything that accompanies it.
Challenger Deep is an amazing novel that will transcend the YA universe for having the courage to not sugar coat the hard things in life. Having dealt with a mental illness my whole life, I felt that I truly understood Caden. The experiences he goes through are unique to him however, they are so very familiar to me, and I’m sure several other readers. I absolutely adore this book and would recommend it to anyone. It is a masterpiece that should never be overlooked and one of the best books I have read in a very long time.