Often, when reviewing a book I absolutely adored, it can be the hardest review to write. It’s difficult to put a review into words when you just want to gush and rave about how amazing it was, while still trying to remain objective. That’s the case with Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. I loved this book so much that I could probably write an essay about it, but I’ll try my best to keep it a decent length!
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 behav
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.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
How do I even start with reviewing this book? I can’t remember the last time I loved a book this much, and it’s instantly gone to the top of my list of favourite books.
I listened to Challenger Deep as an audiobook from Audible, and my god, I’m SO glad I did! The narration was probably the best I’ve listened to. The narrator, Michael Curran-Dorsano, read with such expression that it was so engaging to listen to. I could easily block out any other sound and just listen to the story. Not only did he read the story well, but he performed each character with their own accents, voices, and personalities, and they really came to life. I think this was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to let this story go: the characters seemed so real to me. It was like I was actually listening to each of these characters speak, like a play, rather than one man reading the book.
For a long time, I haven’t read (or listened to, in this case) a book that has kept me so engaged. The story is told from the perspective of Caden, a teenager suffering with a mental illness. The issue of mental illness was dealt with incredibly well, and it gave me a real, true insight into what it might feel like inside the mind of someone who does. It was so powerfully written. There’s a note at the end of the book from the author, Neal Shusterman, about how mental illness runs in his family, and Caden’s illness was entirely inspired by what they’ve gone through.
The story alternates between Caden’s real life and a world entirely inside his head. In his real life, he’s a regular teenager with a regular family, but in his ‘imaginary’ world, he’s aboard a pirate ship heading for the Marianas Trench. On board the ship, there are a whole variety of characters. There’s the Captain and his parrot, a swabbie called Carlisle, and the Navigator, among others. I really loved every single one of these characters, especially in the audiobook because of how the narrator read them.
I was a little confused at first, because I wasn’t sure why Caden was at home with his family one minute, and then suddenly on board the pirate ship the next. But as the story continued, I soon realised what was happening, and that the pirate ship was all inside his head. The thing I really loved was that as the story developed and Caden’s mental illness worsened, links between the two worlds became obvious. People Caden met really clearly inspired characters on the ship, and events happening on the ship were reflected in his real life. I can’t believe how cleverly written the whole book is! If you couldn’t already tell, I LOVE THIS BOOK.
I also really liked the length of the chapters. If you’ve read my reviews before, you might know that I love short chapters and dislike really long ones. These chapters were so short – some of them probably only one or two pages. It worked so well, flicking back and forth between each world.
Everything about Challenger Deep was amazing. I didn’t just love it; I loved it so much that when I finished it, I felt like I’d lost a limb. Now that I’ve listened to the audiobook, I’ll probably buy a copy of the book too and re-read it. The characters, story, and the depictions and mental illness were all incredible! PLEASE, if you can, get a copy of this book and read it. It’s the kind of book that everyone needs to read.
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