Booklist Reviews 2015 February #1
*Starred Review* Award-winning author Shusterman returns to realistic fiction with a breathtaking exploration of one teen's experience with schizophrenia. Caden Bosch thinks there is somebody at his high school who wants to kill him. But that's not all. There are things happening outside of the typical space and time constraints that he can't understand. He feels at once all-powerful and frighteningly powerless. Caden slowly drifts away from friends and family and deeper into his mind, until his parents admit him to a mental hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Shusterman beautifully deploys dual narratives that become increasingly intertwined in this remarkable story. In addition to the grounded-in-reality narrative, he introduces another world, where Caden is out at sea with the Captain, a girl named Calliope, a parrot, and more. All of these characters eventually match real-world counterparts in the hospital and beyond. In confessional back matter, Shusterman explains his inspiration for this powerful story: his own son Brendan's experience in the depths of mental illness. Brendan Shusterman's illustrations, interspersed throughout, contribute significantly to the reading experience. With the increasing demand for understanding mental illness, this is a must-purchase for library collections. Haunting, unforgettable, and life affirming all at once. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An author tour and powerhouse promotional plan will mean lots of attention for best-selling Shusterman's latest endeavor. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Fall
The surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch commingle with more comprehensible accounts of family and school, until his parents have him admitted to a psychiatric ward. The disorientation Shusterman evokes through the first-person narration is an apt, effective way to bring readers into nightmarish anxiety and despair--and out of it. The novel is moving, but it's also funny, with dry, insightful humor.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2015 #2
This novel is a challenge to the reader from its first lines: author Shusterman takes us into the seemingly random, rambling, and surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch (yes, it makes sense to associate him with artist Hieronymus) as mental illness increasingly governs his consciousness. Fantasies about a pirate ship ruled by an abrasive one-eyed captain and his parrot, its deck swarming with feral brains (for example) commingle with Caden's somewhat more comprehensible accounts of family and school, until his parents have him admitted to a psychiatric ward. As he responds to drugs and therapy, Caden's fantasies become increasingly transparent, showing themselves to be imaginative, ungovernable versions of his hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Poirot, and his fellow patients. The disorientation Shusterman evokes through the first-person narration requires some patience, but it's an apt, effective way to bring readers into nightmarish anxiety and despair -- and out of it. Caden's narrative is all the more engulfing because of the abundant wit and creativity evident in the eccentric specifics of his perceptions. Clearly written with love, the novel is moving; but it's also funny, with dry, insightful humor. Illustrations by the author's son Brendan, drawn during his own time in the depths of mental illness, haunt the story with scrambling, rambling lines, tremulousness, and intensity. deirdre f. bake Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
PW Reviews 2015 February #3
With lyricism and potent insight, Shusterman (Unwind) traces the schizophrenic descent and return of Caden Bosch, an intelligent 15-year-old and a gifted artist. His internal narratives are sometimes dreams, sometimes hallucinations, and sometimes undefinable, dominated by a galleon and its captain, sailing with an enormous, sullen crew to the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, Challenger Deep. The metaphor's not exactly subtle, but Shusterman finds unexpected resonance in its details—the tarry seams in the wood, the human ballast. External reality still registers: people around Caden run the gamut of humor, scolding, threats, and avoidance to pressure him into changing behavior he no longer controls. Shusterman has mined personal experience of mental illness with his son Brendan, whose line drawings mirror Caden's fragmentation in swirling lines eerily reminiscent of Van Gogh. It's a powerful collaboration, and crucial to the novel's credibility. As Caden says, "There is no such thing as a ‘correct' diagnosis," and though his story doesn't necessarily represent a "typical" experience of mental illness, it turns symptoms into lived reality in ways readers won't easily forget. Ages 14–up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC