C.G. Drews's Reviews > Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
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This book is a blue puzzle pice of emotional genius. I am affected. I AM VERY AFFECTED. At first I felt like I was sliding headfirst and upside down through a tunnel...the prose was so very woah. Like Alice in Wonderland but making LESS sense. I panicked for a moment that I wouldn't like this book, but come on! IT'S NEAL SHUSTERMAN. I trust him. And oh, gosh, it paid off. This is the kind of story that gets lodged in your throat until you shout about it's marvellousness. SO HERE I AM. SHOUTING.

It's about mental illness, yes. But it's different. I recently read Alice and the Fly which also heavily featured schizophrenia. But the two are kind of incomparable. It has more of a It's Kind of a Funny Story vibe since the protagonist, Caden, is hospitalised during most of the book. I did appreciate that the book was about NOT putting on labels, and not squashing people into boxes. I want to hug it for that. Because THANK YOU. I wish more books had this kind of message. It took me on a very real roller coaster ride through medication and therapy and the pits of despair and recovery and the realisation that you can't cure mental illness, but you can manage it. Which is where I think a lot of books fail. BUT THIS ONE WINS THE WORLD.

There are many things I don't understand, but here's one thing that I know: There is no such thing as a "correct" diagnosis. There are only symptoms and catchphrases for various collections of symptoms.

This is a very personal book too, and I felt that while reading it. Then I read the author's note. He quotes that 1 in 3 people suffer from mental illness, and most of the experiences in this book come from his own personal family life, particularly his son. His son did the artwork for the book. Imagine putting so MUCH of yourself and your family in a book?!! It's incredibly brave. And I think it makes a huge difference. I just felt so connected to the book the whole time. I haven't experienced the depths that CHALLENGER DEEP explores, but I do suffer with anxiety and, gah, this book summed up SO much stuff so completely well. IT'S LITERALLY EXTRAORDINARY.

Okay, so the book is written kind of oddly though...half is real life, half is imaginary. I confess to being more interested in the real life parts. I guess it's a parellel. I struggled to match things up exactly...but I did see the comparisons! And that was incredible! I also love how, subtly, towards the end, the imaginary chapters were leaking into the real-life ones. It was so seamless and terrifying. I had a rocky start with the beginning because NOTHING made sense. But either I got used to it, or it smoothed out, but either way, the writing is flawless. It's delusional. It explains and makes you experience the fear and horror of being caught in delusions and knowing it's not real, but having to believe the delusions anyway.

Also, Caden's family just are great. While Caden's losing himself in the delusions, they're there for him. CAN I JUST SAY, THANK YOU? It's so uplifting and hopeful.

I basically love this story. It's scary and sad and confusing -- which exactly sums up what it's like to be mentally ill. It has PERFECT parallels. It explains things, and I think it'd make anyone empathises with the symptoms. It's loaded with extraordinary writing and a character my heart just broke for. This is easily an extraordinary book.



The fear of not living is a deep, abiding dread of watching your own potential decompose into irredeemable disappointment when "should be" gets crushed by what is. Sometimes I think it would be easier to die than to face that, because "what could have been" is much more highly regarded than "what should have been". Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.

"At home they expect you to be fixed," she says. "They say they understand, but the only people who really understand are the ones who've been to That Place, too. It's like a man telling a woman he knows what it feels like to give birth." She turns to me, forsaking her view for a moment. "You will never know that, so don't pretend you do."
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Reading Progress

October 18, 2014 – Shelved
October 18, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
May 17, 2015 – Started Reading
May 17, 2015 –
page 156
48.75% "This is incredible and confusing. It's like my brain has gone down a slide backwards and upside down."
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: 5-star
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: best-of-2015
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: read-2015
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: mental-illness
May 18, 2015 – Finished Reading
June 28, 2016 – Shelved as: ya-without-romance
November 17, 2016 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)

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message 1: by Zoe (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zoe 5 stars?!?! *rushes to library website and requests it* Looking forward to your review! xx


Shanti I read this last week! It was so good, and I loved the paralells. I have some personal experience in mental disorders from my family, and I just loved how sensitively it was dealt with. And I loved the choice he made not to follows Calliope. loved your review.

Kim at Divergent Gryffindor Based on your review, I NEED THIS BOOK NOW.

C.G. Drews @Madeira: It wasn't like "romance" but that element of it was PERFECTLY done. I hate it when books that deal with mental illness "fix" it all with puppy love. -_- So the perfectionness of this just had me flailing everywhere. xD

@Aimee: If I whisper Neal Shusterman I just knoooow you'll turn up. XD SEE? I AM READING ALL HIS BOOKS NOW. Just need to finish the Unwind books next...


message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll I for real saw your review of this and read the title as "Cliffhanger Deep". *facepalm* Something is wrong with my brain all its unintentional plotbunnies. XD

C.G. Drews WELL COME NOW. You're not too far off. I completely say titles wrong all the time and blog about them WRONGLY and then feel horrifically embarrassed later... >.>

Paméla B. Beautiful review! You managed to put into words everything I felt while reading CHALLENGER DEEP. Thank you!

C.G. Drews Yay! I'm glad you liked it too, Pamela! :D

Neil (or bleed) Love your review, Cait! :)

message 11: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews Thanks Neil! :)


message 13: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Krissy: *pats shoulder* Intense, wasn't it??!?

Cyrus Aleman Yessss ack *flails wildly*

message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Awesome review, Cait! Just wondering, how long did it take for you to get into it? I started reading it a couple months ago but didn't make it far. I'm wondering if I should give it another shot. I usually love Neal Shusterman!

message 16: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Nicole: Maybe like 50-100 pages? The beginning really made me go "wha what is this"...but after that initial confusion I REALLY LOVED IT. XD

message 17: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Glad you loved this one too! Have you read Neal Shusterman's Everlost series?

message 18: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Emma: I haven't! But it's on my to-do list. xD Also I need to finish the Unwind series....*TBR collapses on my head*

Rachel's Book Reviews I have Challenger Deep on my shelf, I haven't finished Unwind, OR EVERLOST.

SO. Many. Books.

*spirals into book coma*

message 20: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Ha, you have quite a few fantastic book in your future then :)

ClaireEva Oh my gosh I just got this book for Christmas and I am so excited to read it!!

P.s. Merry Christmas! :D

message 22: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @ClaireEva: Yayyy ENJOY. :D Merry christmas to you too!!

message 23: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Lou Eeeek! I totally need to read this book. It just looks so incredible.

message 24: by Rowan (new)

Rowan I started reading this one after you mentioned it in your review for Made You Up. I'm really enjoying it! Thank you!

Preston Ramsey This book truly highlights the struggles that people face with mental illnesses. As the book has its ups and downs the reader feels very connected to the story and to Caden, the main character. You go on a roller coaster of a journey with Caden and him dealing with the obstacles that are put in his way by his illness. It is a well thought out novel that may be a little confusing at first, but it becomes much clearer the more you read. The book overall is definitely a good, solid read that you won’t be disappointed with.

message 26: by dylan (new) - added it

dylan Did you spoil a bunch in this review....lol I can’t tell but it feels like you maybe did😕

message 27: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Dylan: Um...I definitely didn't? I wrote a review.

Jordan (pagetravels) YES YES YES TO EVERYTHING YOU SAID!! I read this book a few years ago and STILL think about how incredible it was all the time

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