Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Challenger Deep ~ Neal Shusterman (earc) review [@NealShusterman @HarperTeen]

Challenger Deep
April 21, 2015
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

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.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

Challenger Deep is one of those books where it feels a bit odd to say I loved it. Not because of the quality of the novel, it is superb, but because of the, perhaps, happier connotation the word usually has. Neal Shusterman's latest is honest, it's heartfelt and it's heartbreaking.

The book is told using dual story lines, Caden Bosch at sea on the Challenger Deep and high school student, at home wit his parents Caden Bosch. The worlds seemed so disparate that it could be hard to really get involved in them both at the same time. This isn't a book to read if you only have a few minutes; the stories flow best if you can devote some time to reading, really get into both worlds of Caden Bosch.

Caden's life on the Challenger Deep - really, the entire ship itself, too - is strange. The characters, their decisions, the flow of action, the layout of the ship, the crew's plans, it's not 'normal' and predictable. (The layout/design made me think of the Buffy episode, 'Restless' where Buffy's room opened into he Bronze which opened into Giles' living room [or whatever]. )

Caden's life wit his parents, at school is more 'normal' and understandable. He has friends, he has hobbies, he has talents and ideas.

When everything begins to come together - or, perhaps, come apart - and we see the changes in Caden, when other characters notice things, you feel for him. It's when Caden, himself, begins to question his own behavior, to know things aren't quite right even if he can explain them and can't seem to change them, that readers will really connect with his character. When the story is really heartbreaking.

I am really thrilled, pleased, thankful that Neal Shusterman wrote Challenger Deep and shared Caden and his story with us. It is an incredibly well done story around a very important topic but, more than that, it is Caden's story and he's someone you won't forget.

thank you to the publisher for my digital review copy, via Edelweiss

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