Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Despite winning awards, Challenger Deep hasn’t really been on my radar.
An older contemporary written by an author I’ve never read before; it’s not exactly something that catches my eye. And if it does, it’s because of the cover or by someone’s recommendation. This is exactly why I gravitated towards Challenger Deep. A quick recommendation from Charlotte @ Wonderfully Bookish was enough for me to give it a go.
And guys, I am emotional.
Now, while I’ve read books on mental health, I’ve never read one where the entire story centres around it. I mean, this story would not exist without our main character, Caden’s, spiral into psychosis, treatment, and slow recovery. It’s a brilliant insight into psychotic illnesses, relapses, and tries to put on paper an experience that is near impossible to explain (without experiencing it yourself).
Without giving too much away, Caden’s voyage heading for Mariana’s Trench is a complete hallucination. But at the same time, it’s not completely false. Caden’s real life experiences populate his hallucinations, from the people, the places, and objects.
Throughout we can see where Caden’s mind has taken the real world and blended it with fantasy. While the reader shouldn’t diagnose Caden, I’m sure there will be readers out there who will relate to experiences he goes through. Whether that be from how he feels when he is lucid, or the very realistic elements to his hallucinations.
Overall, this is a compassionate story that does a very good job at removing the stigma of psychotic mental illness, and I am very excited to read more of what Neal Shusterman has to offer!