Thursday, September 18, 2014

Horror at its most viseral AND intelligent.

The Deep

By Nick Cutter

Publisher: Gallery Books 

Pub. Date: January 13, 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As much as I loved Nick Cutter's previous horror novel, The Troop, I felt that the author was capable of something even more intense, scarier, and disturbing the next time around.

Boy! Was I right!

In The Deep we learn that the earth is devastated by a new disease called the 'Gets. Those who are infected start to forget little things, then the bigger things, then pretty much everything to the point they forget to breathe and eventually die. In the deepest part of the Pacific ocean, scientists are researching a substance called Ambrosia found eight miles down in the Marianna Trench. They think it might be a cure. Veterinarian Luke Nelson receives a message from his brother Clayton, which is one of the scientists in the deep sea station Trieste, "We need you. Lucas. Come home."

The Deep is one of those novels that is acutely visceral and insanely intelligent at the same time. Part science fiction, part very deep sea adventure, and 100% horror, there is barely any part of it that gives you time to rest before something else either scares the hell out of you or grosses you out. Plot wise, most of the minor characters exist to fulfill their purpose. However the two main protagonist are deftly drawn and provide plenty of emotional connection. Luke is a troubled adult with a missing child and estranged wife and a very dysfunctional childhood. His brother Clayton is a brilliant but sociopathic scientist whose love of discovery trumps his lack of connection and empathy. When Luke and his submersible pilot, Alice, descend eight miles to the deep sea station, the reader is treated to a haunting and uncomfortable description of an environment that redefines the term "claustrophobia". It is both the interaction between the brothers and the starkly written creepiness of the station that keeps the reader on edge. When we finally meet the "monster" It is something that is as terrifying to us as it is mystifying to our protagonists. As stated above, I found The Deep to be one of the most intelligently visceral books I have ever read.

The Deep may turn out to be the best horror book I've read this year. It will be hard to beat it. If The Troop was punch number one and The Deep is punch number two, I am awaiting nervously for the knock-out punch.

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