The Deep | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
"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. Their bodies forget how to function involuntarily. There is no cure.
But far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, a universal healer hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But when the station goes incommunicado, a brave few 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."
The Deep is a standalone horror novel by Nick Cutter.
This is my second book by the author, having read The Troop not too long ago. That wasn't really for me, but I was hoping that this one would be because I hate the deep sea. There is just something about the dark open vastness of the deep sea that makes me instinctually go 'nope'.
Overall, I don't know how to feel about this book. My initial impression was pretty strong, a good kind of strong though because I liked the setup and the atmosphere. The more I read though, the more chaotic it got and the less I found myself enjoying the story.
Let's get into the details.
Firstly, for once, I actually read this physically since I had to go to the library to pick up a book you just couldn't read as an ebook, and I stumbled upon this by chance. On the bad side though, someone dog-eared the pages... I am fine with doing that, but not a library book that is for public use and not your own.
Moving on though, the writing was perfectly fine. As I said in the introduction, the story does get chaotic, and it is reflected in the writing as well. As for the font, physical books have small fonts so I struggled a bit reading this, especially when there were journal pages that used a different and even smaller font.
In terms of content, there is a lot of graphic imagery and descriptions in this as this does have a good amount of body horror.
This starts out with things going bad to worse. The world is plagued with a mysterious disease called the 'Gets, and the only possible cure can be found at the bottom of the ocean. The main character, Luke, is sent down to the abyss after his brother, a scientist conducting research at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, sends a message asking for him to come after days of no contact.
The setup worked really well for me because not only did it present an issue and possible resolution, but it also leaned into the unsettling atmosphere right away. In a way, it puts an itch under your skin that is made worse by the acute feeling of claustrophobia you get by following Luke who is trapped in what is essentially a death cage miles under the sea.
That one-two punch, of not only being stuck at the literal bottom of the ocean but also where strange things happen that make you feel like you are slowly but surely losing your mind, is very effective. Once we get past all this setup and atmosphere though, and as you progress through the book, that is where some issues start to occur.
For one, the story was just one bad thing happening after another in this string of coincidences. It was a bit too intentional and obvious because it made you go 'of course that happened.'
For two, I said in the introduction that this story ends up becoming very chaotic once it starts to head into the climax. The way everything wrapped up as well, or the way it got from point A to point B was a bit odd. The synopsis, and the setup of the story, are very clear. However, the direction of the story the and ending are so much bigger and out there than what the story was originally presenting that it caught me off guard. It was like rewatching Interstellar all over again because it went a little too far and pushed the limitations of the story.
One final note I wanted to make was again about the content. In this case, I am talking about Luke's backstory in regard to his upbringing. Without going into spoilers, it is not a backstory that is comfortable to read and it is one that is featured prominently in the story because of how it affected Luke. It was just not great to read about, though that is how horror works sometimes, it makes your skin crawl in revulsion.
I don't have much to talk about in this section because, well, we follow a very small cast of characters. The story is told through the perspective of Luke, and in addition to him, we have Alice, Clayton (Luke's brother) and Dr.Toy who act as secondary/minor characters.
The only thing I have to talk about really is Luke's motivations. He goes to the length of going to the bottom of the sea to check up on a brother who he does not have a good relationship with. It doesn't make much sense in my mind to do that, not the checking up on him thing but actually going to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Once he was down there as well, and Clayton proceeded to be a horrible person, I would have just left him there.
Overall, this was unsettling and atmospheric, but not perfect. The story ultimately does end up going a bit too far in terms of the parameters of the plot, and its ensuing chaos resulted in me enjoying the book less. Still, though, this worked better for me than The Troop.
For anyone going into this wondering about content, which I have talked about in various sections already, this has quite a few. There are warning for sensitive content like animal cruelty, domestic abuse, and general graphic imagery due to body horror.