Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman (illustrations by Brendan Shusterman)
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Harpercollins, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
I'm slightly embarrassed to tell you all that this is my first work by Neal Shusterman. (I don't know what it is, but apparently authors with the name Neal seem to stick with me..) And I spent a good amount of this book wondering why I had waited so long. (I can't wait to read more from Neal Shusterman! Yes, I'm officially fangirling. Moving on..)
Mental illness still in this day and age still has a bad stigma; to be diagnosed with a mental illness, to some people, is tantamount to being told that you're 'crazy'. I'll be the first to admit that many people I know struggle with it, myself included. I've dealt with anxiety and depression. Mental illness, addressed in anything these days, makes me nervous. Some people are so judgmental about it.
Neal Shusterman understands mental illness. In Caden, the protagonist he creates, the reader is led across his mind, and a terrifying, enlightening journey it is. This book was one giant mindfuck, but one I definitely enjoyed. It was unpredictable, heartbreaking, terrifying, magical. Impossible, even? Sometimes you're on a pirate ship. Sometimes, you're in one of Caden's memories. Sometimes, you're being seen by a doctor. Part of the reason I loved this book so much was because it was so wild.
And how's this for a bonus? Neal's son, Brendan, drew the illustrations! It added an even richer depth to this beautiful, heartwrenching book. Caden's journey is one that I thoroughly enjoyed. This book gave me everything: I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced, I raged.
I don't really know how to explain the plot, but perhaps it's for the best. It's better to go in blind on Caden's quest through the mysteries of his mind--it makes it even sweeter when you come out on the other side. Wow. I can't stop smiling, knowing that there may be more of Shusterman's work in my future. The bottom line: A gorgeous and frightening mind screw of a novel, Challenger Deep is a must--one of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno!