The Deep by Nick Cutter (4 out of 5)
I got an advance of this from Wendy at Simon & Schuster. Thank you, Wendy. I read the premise and thought it sounded creepy as hell, not to mention that Stephen King, master of horror and someone whose opinion on books I have found to be infallible in the past five years, made it known how much of a fan of Cutter’s work he was with his previous work, The Troop. Before I launch into the review, I’m going to say one and only one thing, and that is that this book is NOT one you want to read before bed. I read it before bed, and had some super creepy dreams as a result, along with tossing and turning. It is one of those books were more often than not, more questions are created when answers are given. Also not the type of book for those who are faint of heart, or unaccustomed to gore. There is a fair amount of gore and troubling thoughts abounding throughout, it’s the type of psychological umbrella that stays open throughout the book, even when it’s sunny outside. You never know what you are going to get with this book, and that’s why you have to give it a read. Any book that is described as The Abyss meeting The Shining should be a clear indicator that there are disturbing themes afoot, and therefore, need to be read. The only thing I didn’t dig was the ending, although I can understand why he finished it with that scenario. But riveted? Oh yes. Read it in the day and recommend it to everyone. The book is not out until January of 2015, so it’ll be a pleasant Happy New Year, Let Me Scare The Crap Out of You gift.
Global infestation is imminent with the ‘Gets, a virus that begins with people forgetting small, everyday things and escalating until they forgot their names, how to eat, how to drive, and their bodies involuntarily follow. Thousands are dying, and there is no cure. Luke, a mild mannered veterinarian, is summoned to the Mariana Trench, where there’s a research station in the deepest part of the ocean, where they’re studying secretive matter in an attempt to find a cure for this virus that’s quickly turning into a plague. He’s been summoned by his long estranged scientist brother Clay, who’s already in the station, hard at work on something called ambrosia, which may be the cure to save them all. Joining them are Alice, Luke’s partner in the hub where they’re sequestered, and Little Bee, a chocolate Lab who is apparently an experimental animal in the hub. Luke’s first contact with Clay, in which Clay basically tells him that he did NOT request his assistance, is truly the lock, which, when broken, is the key to the reader realizing all is not as it seems with this mission to save humanity. Still, Luke stays, because he feels he has been brought there for a reason and that it’s his duty to do his best to help save the world, so he stays. It gets ugly fast, as it becomes apparent that secrets are being held, not all of the good that is being bandied about is good, but rather evil lurking deep within the deep (bad literary title pun intended). The baby sequence, and the Little Bee sequence, not to mention what happens to all of the inhabitants of the Trieste (the name of the floating station), as the quest for the cure dives in deeper, is downright frightening. That baby sequence? Will stay with you, whether you like it or not. I call that incredibly realistic writing, but it will scare the living piss out of you, be warned. It gets more disturbing as it hurtles toward an end that will either save the world from the ‘Gets, or toward the end of civilization as we know it. Is this the end of the world as we know it? Because no one feels fine.
I really did enjoy this book. The only thing that kept it from being a slam dunk for me was that much of the book is journal entries, recollections from the past of Clay and Luke’s past, and there are a fair number of clichés that had me shaking my head because they really didn’t fit in with the plot at all. The level of gore, if not expected, is disarming, although you feel like something of this nature is going to have to work out this way. Still, if you aren’t down with it, it may disturb to the point that you feel like giving up on the story. Don’t do that! Once it unravels and more secrets and revelations come out, it’s a no-stop drop to the end, which I did not see coming. I also was deeply unsettled by how it ended, although as I said earlier, I can see why Cutter went that way with the outcome. I would recommend this to anyone who loved Clive Barker’s darker works, while warning you that the violence is akin to nothing I’ve read in years. So be warned going into this roller coaster ride. While it’s a deeply involving read, it’s also deeply disturbing. I would recommend it to horror fans; I think there is an element of sci-fi involved in how the plague begets and the ambrosia’s role in trying to get it under control, but it should be classified as horror more than science fiction or fantasy. Now that I’m familiar with his work, I am going to have to go back and read The Troop. After this one scared the crap out of me, wish me luck in that!