Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

January 6, 2015 Books, Reading, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Deep by Nick CutterThe Deep by Nick Cutter
three-stars
From the acclaimed author of The Troop—which Stephen King raved “scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down.…old-school horror at its best”—comes this utterly terrifying novel where The Abyss meets The Shining.

A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget—small things at first, like where they left their keys…then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure.

But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths…and perhaps to encounter an evil blacker than anything one could possibly imagine.

Part horror, part psychological nightmare, The Deep is a novel that fans of Stephen King and Clive Barker won’t want to miss—especially if you’re afraid of the dark.
Published by Gallery Books on January 13th 2015
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
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I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

This book contains potentially triggering material. You can find details of potential triggers at the end of this review.

As a plague devastates the world, Luke Nelson gets a call. He needs to fly to the other side of the world, to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. His genius brother, Clayton, is working in a station at the deepest point on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench. The station has gone incommunicado, except for a strange message from Clayton asking for Luke.

Luke’s a veterinarian. He has no experience, no business really, hopping in a submersible and falling to the darkest part of the ocean, but he goes unquestioningly to try to help his brother. Maybe Clayton has found a cure for the ‘Gets. But as Luke arrives in the crushing dark, he finds instead horror and creeping insanity that dredges the deepest memories of his past.

Objectively, The Deep is a pretty solid horror novel. There’s a lot of really squicky, gory body horror, and the psychological horror elements are very effective. I even like the intense bleakness of the ending. But… I really don’t know if I’d recommend this book. My reasons are somewhat spoilery, so you can read them below the spoiler tag.

View Spoiler »

If there’s anything that breaks up fiction’s flow more than choppy, short sentences, I don’t know what it is, and I had trouble wanting to focus during the first third of the book because the sentences and often sentence fragments were just graceless. I didn’t necessarily see that sentence structure advancing the mental state of the protagonist up to that point; the sentences do become longer, more complex, and more graceful as the book progresses, but the beginning just seemed incredibly awkward to me.

The setup for the actual story felt weak, as if Cutter came up with the bones of the story (bizarre, eldritch horror at the bottom of the ocean) and needed a reason for his protagonist, a person who would not normally go to the bottom of the ocean, to be there to make it happen. It came together fairly well in the end, at least in terms of the interpersonal aspects of the story, but the worldwide plague just felt slapped on there. Honestly, there could have just been nebulous “scientific research” going on instead of the search for a cure for the ‘Gets, and I would have been fine with it.

Did you ever see Event Horizon? This book is very, very similar. You have people trapped in a basically inescapable situation, only at the deepest part of the ocean instead of in deep space. You have the slow seep of insanity into the minds of the characters. You question whether or not anything is real for a good, long while. And you have the unrelenting bleakness, the feeling even from the start that no one is going to come out of this unchanged.

There’s a lot of derivation from earlier horror books and films, but Cutter did very effectively scare the shit out of me in this book. From nearly the beginning, it started hitting all of my fear triggers (especially claustrophobia, gah!), and despite my problems with the writing style and background plot, it is an effective horror novel. It just crossed my own personal line, and I’m not sure if I’ll be seeking out any more of Cutter’s novels because of that.

Potential triggers: View Spoiler »