Title: The Deep
Author: Nick Cutter
No. of Pages: 400
Origins: Gallery Books
Release Date: 13 January 2015
Bottom Line: One of the most terrifying books I’ve read in a very long time, if ever, and I loved every minute of it.
“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.”
Thoughts: Attention Stephen King fans. Nick Cutter is quickly proving himself to be a formidable author in the horror genre and may just give Mr. King a run for his money as the king of horror. The man may not have the depth of character that epitomizes Mr. King’s novels, but he definitely knows how to frighten a reader.
He does so using a blend of good, old-fashioned butchery and psychology. For one thing, he has a penchant for using a plethora of insect and arachnid imagery in his descriptions that immediately sets readers on edge. He also draws on most childhood nightmares of things that go bump in the night. Then, he builds on this tension by crafting one of the most depressing and uncomfortable backdrops imaginable. As Luke mentions in the novel, there is a reason why humans do not live at the bottom of the ocean, let alone at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, a fact on which Mr. Cutter capitalizes through the soul-crushing darkness, the fearsome creatures that do inhabit those depths, and the physical weight of water eight miles below the surface.
To make matters even more interesting, he infiltrates this narrative with psychologically disturbed characters, both in the past through flashbacks and in the present through other persons in the Trieste with Luke. Finally, the line between reality and madness blurs almost immediately once Luke and the reader enter the water, further compounding the strain. All of this makes for a heart-pounding, absolutely terrifying story about life, love, and fate.
Yet, as intense and scary as this story is, which is an understatement of the greatest proportion, Luke’s plight is profoundly interesting. One wants to find out whether he will ever see the light of day again, if he can save the others, if he can stave off insanity, and if he can find happiness. The flashbacks into Luke’s past, his horrible childhood and the devastating loss of his son, invest readers in his cause and prevent them from being able to tear themselves away from the story. It is not so much a train wreck as it is a breaking kidnapping story in which the readers are highly vested in the outcome and the ultimate fate of the main character.
The Deep is not for the faint of heart. It is not for anyone who gets overly attached to animals or characters in books. It is definitely not for those who are afraid of the dark. It is not even for those who disgust easily. Instead, The Deep is for the true horror lover – those who love all of the gory and depraved goodness of such stories. Set against one of the scariest backgrounds one could ever imagine, Luke’s determination and Clayton’s coolly clinical disregard for others serve to magnify that terror as well as heighten one’s awareness of the idea of fate. For the right reader, it is a story like no other and well worth the chest pains the intense heart-pounding will cause.