Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 3/7/15 to 3/7/15
320 pages
Rating: ✰1/2

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

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Out of all my ARCs, Challenger Deep was my most anticipated because first off, that cover, and second, it was about schizophrenia. Even though I couldn't relate to Caden and was confused by everything at first, by the end I was able to piece everything together which formed an accurate presentation of schizophrenia. 

Caden is a schizophrenic. It's hard to see that in the beginning, because our view of schizophrenia is so different from what is being portrayed here. Schizophrenia isn't just a couple of voices talking in your head, it's another reality that you can't tell apart from actuality. Half of the time, he immerses himself within his ship life "reality", causing him to zone out in actual life. Because of his inability to tease apart the two lives, everyone around him realizes that there is something wrong.

The way the book is written is pretty unique, in a way. The two lives parallel each other, and you can see that one predicts the other in a way. 

However, it DOES take awhile to get used to.

My main problem, maybe not a problem but my own misinterpretation, is that I don't know what the moral of the story is. Less than halfway through, Caden is admitted to a mental health institute to get help. While he's there, he encounters the dilemma of following the instructions of the doctor, or...well not. Although I'm guessing this is a problem for all patients, there is this one part of the novel that made me question whether the moral was NOT to take the prescribed drugs. But then later on, this was contradicted? So I don't know, and I'm not sure what to think because of it.

Nevertheless, Challenger Deep is an eyeopener to schizophrenia. I know much more about the illness compared to before, especially since Shusterman succeeds at putting us into the shoes of Caden (and from the acknowledgments, I think this book is dedicated to his son who suffers from schizophrenia). I highly recommend this to anyone interested in mental illnesses, but be warned the writing style takes getting used to.  
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