Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep - Brendan Shusterman, Neal Shusterman

Caden is a 15 year old boy whose high school friends notice starts to act strange. Caden is the artist aboard a ship bound for the Marianas Trench. Caden lies about joining the track team. Caden is torn between loyalty to the captain and mutiny.


I upped this books rating from a 4 to a 4.5 after I learned the story behind this book and saw the art that is in the physical book (I listened to this on audio, like I do most things). I really wish that when you are listening to an audiobook there was a way to get any of the art, images, ect. that are in the physical book, or at least a note that those things exist so know to go looking for them.


This was a surprising book to me. I listened to it and honestly had no idea what was going on at first, I felt like I was going crazy listening to this kids story. I got the anxiety and nervous feelings listening to it and while it was clear that the things he was thinking and feeling where really off base, Shusterman did a really good job of writing it.  


Once I sorted what was going on I was really interested to see where this was going to go.  Somethings that didn't totally work for me had to deal with the narration (there were a few clunky/messy narration sections) and there was a "love interest" that didn't really work smoothly for me.


So the story behind the story I guess could be spoilery for the plot line of the book so if that's something that you don't want to know then I'd skip the rest of this but I don't think it is because I think it's more about the journey with this book than the plot line but at any rate I'll throw it behind a spoiler tag just in case. Obviously I'd recommend this book and was very impressed with it.

Shusterman's son started showing signs of mental illness as a teen and ended up needing to be hospitalized because he couldn't differentiate between what was happening in his delusions and real life. At one point Brendan told Neal “Sometimes it feels like I’m at the bottom of the ocean screaming at the top of my lungs and no one can hear me” and that is Neal came up with the story for Challenger deep.  Brendan worked closely with Neal in telling this story and the art work in the book is from the time that Brendan was in the thick of the mental break he was having.  I wasn't sure how accurate and honest this story was which made me skeptical about the story, it was well written but I wasn't sure about it.  When I found out about the Shuterman's personal connection to this story the more I liked it because it answered the question about the accuracy.

(show spoiler)