Caden is on the adventure of his life! He’s on board a ship with a captain with one eye and a parrot who is subversive and trying to get him to take out the captain and don’t forget about Callipoe, the ship’s figurehead, whom Caden thinks is really the only one he can trust. After all, the ship and all its inhabitants are on their way to the deepest part of the ocean for the best treasure in all the world. But the problem is, who can Caden really believe?
Caden is on a ship, however it is a ship of his own imagination and as he tries to sail through the murky waters, his parents, his friends and his little sister all struggle with exactly what is going on with him and how, if at all, they can help him find his way to shore again.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman isn’t like his other books – except that it pulls you in quickly. This book may feel at times like a fantasy, however, it is certainly a contemporary fiction piece. Shusterman uses his incredible writing ability to suck the reader into Caden’s world, and gives you the chance to try to make sense of it before Caden. This candid look at mental illness from the view point of the patient and the world he inhabits as he tries to come back to the world others know is at times heartbreaking and poignant – for the reader knows, at any point, it could be our story as well.
Recommended for mature 7th graders and up due to the complexity of the story.