Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep

by Neal Shusterman


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 Deepis a heartfelt tour de force by one of today''s most admired writers for teens.

My thoughts:

This novel takes readers into the mind of a 15 year old boy who is becoming schizophrenic.  Sometimes Caden is in the real world, and sometimes he is on a pirate ship bound for the deepest part of the ocean, under the control of a one-eyed captain and his cruel parrot.  The reader struggles to determine what is real, and what is not, just as Caden does.  Readers experience the development of Caden’s disease as his moments in reality become shorter and shorter.  His teachers, friends and family know something is wrong but are helpless as Caden spirals deeper into his psychosis.  Eventually Caden’s parents become desperate and admit him into a juvenile mental facility.  There readers see Caden’s thought processes, the effects of medication, or lack thereof, on his everyday functioning. We see his spiral into darkness, and his return to reality, and everything in between. Shusterman masterfully portrays the benefits and detriments of treatment, and how a lesser evil is often the only choice for someone at the end of their rope.

Knowing that Schusterman is drawing on his own son’s experience only makes this story more powerful and at times, painful.  Smart and funny, intelligent and poignant, frightening and thought provoking — this novel will stay with readers a long time.

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