It’s hard to describe this book without giving too much away, I feel like readers need to go into it as open-minded and with as little knowledge about the contents as I did to really get the full experience that comes with Challenger Deep. So, I’m not going to summarize this book at all, except to say that Neal Shusterman has written one of the best accounts of mental illness I’ve ever read.
Maybe I’m biased, because I’ll willingly say that Shusterman is one of my personal favorite authors and I have yet to read one of his books and be left disappointed. That said, I really believe that I can honestly say Challenger Deep is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Neal just seems to have a knack for stringing together words and thoughts in ways that make perfect sense. Sometimes I feel like he’s written down the things from inside my head that I just couldn’t figure out how to express properly. My favorite quote from Challenger Deep is, “The scariest thing of all is never knowing what you’re suddenly going to believe.” Even the Author’s Note at the very end was beautifully written, ending with, “And when the abyss look into you-and it will-may you look back unflinching.” As an aspiring author, I hope to one day be able to conjure just a fraction of the wonderful imaging that Shusterman has achieved.
As a person who has not personally dealt with mental illness in any form, I can’t say that I know that Challenger Deep is accurate. I can, however, say that it has given me a much greater understanding of what some people go through. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be tortured by your own mind, to not understand what’s real and what isn’t, and this book made me truly feel for those who deal with these things on a daily basis. It’s heart-wrenching to read at times, and by the end of the book I cared so, so much for the main character, Caden. I wanted to protect him, comfort him, make everything ok for him. To me, a book that can evoke that much of an emotional response deserves to be applauded.
I have nothing bad to say about this book, it was everything I hoped for and more. Five stars does not do it justice. Please check this one out, it’s a book that needs to be experienced by everyone.