Book Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Deep Cover Header

Let’s play a game of “Would You Rather”: Would you rather live in space or at the bottom of the ocean? Don’t ask me why, but I’ve thought about this A LOT, and after weighing the cons of all options, I decided the sea isn’t for me because of the possibility of waking up to an intrusive shark peaking through my window at me.

Oh to go back to the days when that was the biggest concern I had. Back before I read The Deep.

As you can gather from that intro, The Deep takes place under the sea, and not the one the Little Mermaid had us singing about. We’re talking so deep even the terrifying fish featured in Discovery Channel specials are too afraid to go to. With much of the oceans unexplored, there is a possibility of new discoveries every day. This is the basic premise of The Deep: when humanity is plagued with a disease that’s basically fast acting dementia, a discovery is made to send scientists searching for a possible solution 8 miles below the ocean’s surface. But what will they really find when they get down there, a miracle? Or will they find something truly monstrous?

Based on the genre, no one should be surprised when it turns out to be the latter. Luke is our narrator, a veterinarian who is sent down to the Trieste when the surface can no longer reach his brother, Clayton, the man who has all of humanity’s hope resting on his shoulders. Once Luke gets to the underwater base, things continue to go from bad to worse, and we spend much of the book not quite understanding what the main characters are dealing with. As the truth slowly reveals itself, everything begins to unravel as well.

Considering the importance of the disease, the ‘Gets, as a motivation for the story, you would think it would play a bigger role in the story. Instead, The Deep uses the environment as the main source of anxiety, playing with the lack of light and confined spaces to build panic. This may play better as a film considering these concepts could only be further experienced through visuals, think The Descent, but Nick Cutter’s writing is still full of moments of creepiness. We’re not talking the same levels as The Shining (which the book description compares it too), but it still made me a little wary of my surroundings as I read in the dark before bed. With that said, I would say the images created reminded me more of The Thing. In other words, Cutter really has a knack for creating disturbing imagery that will haunt your dreams. And both stories are super evil to dogs.

Even without the through line of the ’Gets, Cutter does still play with the sanity of these characters. I think he could have actually taken it up a notch, but by the time our characters learned more about the base and continued to not stay as a group, time had run out. Besides, based on the ending of the book I would say that this isn’t really what Cutter was going for. There are still hallucinations, psychological breaks are somewhat involved, haunting memories are brought to the surface, but it’s not the type of story that ends up where The Descent does (seriously, if you haven’t seen The Descent yet, get on that already). I will admit that this is what I was hoping for, but the ending Cutter does choose to go with is still a fine choice. Not the best, and very similar to a book I read not too long ago, but still decent. Plus it leaves a better possibility of a sequel, which I would definitely be willing to read if there ever is one.

The Deep did leave me slightly disappointed because it didn’t go the route I hoped it would, but that’s not exactly something you can count as a negative towards it. What I can count against it is that not enough relationship building was done between brothers Luke and Clayton. Instead, we spent more time in Luke’s memories of their gross mother. Based on his personality, Clayton isn’t exactly capable of a bromance, but I just needed a little more there to truly latch onto these two as brothers so that I cared just as much about their relationship as I did with Luke and the dog. Goodness that dog really got me…

Long story short, The Deep does what it does well, but I did feel like something was missing. Luckily it isn’t enough to truly hinder the story and what it is. Now bring me a film adaptation!

Final Grade: 3.5 out of 5      Follow @BewareOfTrees

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