Book Review: Challenger Deep

By Sam Irvine, 6th Grade

Challenger Deep is a powerful journey across the mind. It is a fiction book, that describes the true stories of what Neal Shusterman’s brother, Brendan, experiences with mental illness. Challenger Deep is about Caden Bosch, a boy with mental illness, that lives in reality and in his own world on a ship going to the deepest place on Earth. In the book, there are pictures that Brendan drew, and they describe what he saw. Most of them are abstract, but show what he sees, feels, thinks, and hears. It is interesting to see what someone sees while having a mental illness. In the book, Caden said the quote, “Well, I think someone wants to kill me.”. His mind made him think that a real person was actually going to kill him. This was caused by his illness. Throughout the book, there are chapters that show his thoughts when he is on his ship, and when he is in the real world.

The attention to detail in the book makes you, as the reader, able to experience what’s happening. It feels like you are experiencing what Caden is experiencing. In this book, you have to think about the book, as the author doesn’t tell everything to you. At the beginning of the book, Caden experienced many odd behaviors, leading his parents to wonder what was happening. Challenger Deep then explains the adventures he goes through on the ship, and what he experiences in the real world. It is very interesting to see how someone experiences mental illness, how they get through it, and what they are thinking.

For me, I thought this book was unique. It was an important book that explained the hardships of mental illness, a topic that isn’t talked about much. It was also sad to see what Caden went through, making you want to help him. I was able to learn what mental illness was though, how it treated someone, and what could happen if it wasn’t treated. It was very interesting to read Caden’s experience. Challenger Deep is a book that showed me what mental illness could do to someone, and with its powerful story, you can stay up for hours reading until the very end.


Sam's favorite books: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien; Divergent, by Veronica Roth; Starflight, by Melissa Landers.