A Writer’s Review: Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman was a tremendously written alternative approach to mental health. Neal used a method of portraying our main character’s mental anguish as a somewhat split storyline, that eventually for the reader started to tie together and make sense. It alternated between Caden’s real life and a fictional-fictional journey to Challenger Deep. As I came to the end of the book, I started to have moments of “oh I get it now” and “oh that’s who it is!”

At first, I felt a little hazy. As the characters and events in Caden’s internal storyline started to come into existence, it took some time before I realised this journey on the ship wasn’t real. But once I came to appreciate the voyage to Challenger Deep (and the diverse characters onboard) was related to things in Caden’s life, I began to value the book even more.

Mental health is a tough subject to write, specifically because the feelings related to each and every case are different. No one person ever feels those things identically, and so no one author can depict mental illness in it’s entirety. All they can do is present a perspective of it, and hopefully have an impact on it.

No one author can depict mental illness in it’s entirety.

That, is exactly what Neal Shusterman has done with Challenger Deep. The novel brought to light Caden’s schizophrenia in a unique way that drew me in like never before. I felt Neal’s technique of leaving myself to unravel who the characters were functioned as an excellent tactic to keep me on the edge of my seat while not being left entirely in the dark. As a slow reader, I found myself excited every time I curled myself away to read this book. And when I finished, there was (and still is) a promising desire to explore more from Neal Shusterman.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: Playlist For The Dead

When I first read the synopsis for Michelle Falkoff’s Playlist For The Dead, I for a moment thought that it had some striking similarities to Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. Thankfully it wasn’t too similar. The story was unique even with its reminders of the girl who doesn’t want to fit in any more, like in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places. And how she starts to become the shoulder to lean on for the boy who’s struggling. This book deals with suicide because of bullying, which does indeed to some degree catch some similarities with 13 reasons. But at the same time there wasn’t any connection with sexual abuse and whilst yes, this is a story about mental health, it’s portraying it in another light.

One thing that I struggled with to some degree while reading this book, was keeping track of who’s who. There were quite a few characters with usual names, like Jack, Jake, Jason etc… The introductions to some characters that we saw quite often like Sam’s sister were rather brief, however much we continued to see her pop up during the story. With that said, I don’t think that’s a drawback. It may just be my inability to concentrate that could be getting in the way. As always, the reason I review this book with satisfaction is because of its ability to draw me into the story. I noticed myself smiling at moments of joy, and concentrating deeply for moments of conflict. All in all, it was a book that I enjoyed to the end and was happy being able to keep turning page after page.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: An Abundance of Katherines

A novel that is one of the less famed works from John Green, An Abundance of Katherines tells the story of a boy who has only ever dated girls named Katherine. I think the reason this novel confused me, was because it was trying to be an extremely intellectual book. A novel that tried to combine logic and math with a story of teenage romance. It plagued some abstract writing styles that included making various references at the bottom of a page to something as if the story was some kind of a Wikipedia article. In fact the wikipedia article on this novel features a cover that looks like this is a 1980’s high school math textbook.

There were some hard things to grasp with this, such as details on Colin’s ethnicity. Lately these days, culture is extremely trying to be kind towards different genders, race, sexual identity etc… It’s something I’ve started to notice growing up, especially over the last few years. This book seems like it was somewhat of an early start at keying its way into that club, the club of everybody’s equal and everyone should get some stardom. Colin was a jew, I think? His friend was named Hassan and he was Muslim.

The overall story seemed to primarily be about Colin meeting a girl named Lindsey and this being a break in his cycle of dating girls named Katherine. Whilst I was looking forward to diving into another novel from my favorite author, I really struggled to enjoy this book, and unfortunately see why it is one of the less well known/received books from John.

– Michael Topschij.

It was good! And pathetic.

I’ve just completed reading through; ‘Me Earl and the Dying Girl”. It was a good book, that was pathetic. As a dedication to a novel that accepted no boundaries for a novel. And the fact I can’t be bothered really writing this all up, I’ll sum it up in the same style this book used frequently:

INT Michael’s Review.

• The book used some unique styles
• The story made sense
• My second novel I’ve read about cancer
• It highlighted how pathetic high school students are
• The story was slow building until it quickly got into some movement
• I loved how it was a fictional character writing a book
• I’m confused if I appreciate the realness of this story, or not

END SCENE.
… Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: The Way We Roll

I love goats! My first ever pet was a goat and his name was Zack. I was disappointed that CeC in The Way We Roll (the goat in this story) was only introduced so far into the plot. But, the Way We Roll was an enjoyable and funny novel. I loved how the characters were portrayed in a certain light, that their introduction was made when needed. I will admit, I did struggle to grasp the importance of who was who until the story progressed further, but eventually understanding who was who’s sister, friend, girlfriend etc…

The Way We Roll is a story about a young boy who’s father did something that caused him to run away from home. I will admit, I know that feeling. Not the, father doing something, but the running away from home thing. I’ve ran away from New Zealand all the way to California when I was 17. And this story showed me what it could have been like, if I didn’t have family there. We saw Will smuggle himself into the underground of a bowling alley, sleep underneath freeways and flat with friends from his work as a supermarket trolley pusher. We learn about girlfriend sex tapes, and even make friends with a security guard goat who lives next door. It was definitely great to see an enjoyable story come from just across the ditch in Australia.

– Michael Topschij.