The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ The Deep

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ The Deep

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

The Deep – Nick Cutter

First thing’s first – last year’s Book of the Year was, of course, Nick Cutter’s The Troop, and a damn good book it was too. Does The Deep live up to the high standards he set for me last year? For the most part, yes - it won’t be our 2015 Book of the Year (as that will undoubtedly be Josh Malerman’s Bird Box unless something completely blows me away between now and New Year’s Eve), but it is a worthy follow-up and definitely worth your time if you loved The Troop.

The Deep starts off very promisingly, with a graphic description of a new epidemic disease called “The Gets” (as in The Forgets) in which victims start off missing simple enough things, the name of an old teacher, say, until things deteriorate to the point where they forget to eat, their heart forgets to beat, they forget to breathe, and they quickly die. I found this part fascinating and would gladly have read an entire book detailing that epidemic (Do you hear me, Nick?!).

We are introduced to veterinarian Luke Nelson, who (like all good protagonists) has some deep tragic background involving divorce and a missing son, Zach (more on that later). Luke’s new mission, courtesy of the US government, is to travel down eight miles into the ocean, belong the lowest point previously known to man (take THAT, James Cameron) to retrieve his prickly mad scientist older brother Clayton, stationed in a special research lab there, the “Trieste” seeking cures for The Gets.   Clayton’s childhood skills are described in great detail (do you know a lot of teenagers who have successfully grown a human nose on the back of a mouse?) and suffice it to say that although he seems to have the flattest of all flat affects, if anybody can cure The Gets, it’s him. He is stationed with two other doctors, Dr. Toy and Dr. Westlake, and a handful of research animals, mice, bees, dogs, etc.  Nobody has heard from them in days, and when Westlake surfaces, dead and scarred beyond recognition, and an audio file seeming to summon Luke is received, well, the mission is clear. Luke’s guide on his travels to the bottom is Lt. Commander Alice (“call me Al”) Sykes, a strapping broad in the Jane Lynch mould.  

It seems the doctors on the Trieste have discovered a magical substance, dubbed “Ambrosia” that seems to cure EVERYTHING – cancer? Gone. Sore knees? Get ready to run a marathon again. Dementia?  Break out the NY Times crossword puzzle – the Sunday edition! Ambrosia seems to do it all – and it’s down there, in the deep.

So off Al and Luke jet to the bottom, and almost immediately things go to shit.  Dr. Toy is locked in his lab and seems to have suffered a psychotic break.  Clayton denies calling for Luke and questions what he’s doing there – a fair question as it’s clear they haven’t spoken in years.  Luke and Al are subject to lots of hallucinations (or are they?) in cramped dark spaces, with noises that seem to taunt them and visions of things that couldn’t possibly exist.  Luke hears his son’s laughter off and on as he and Al explore the station.
I usually go to Goodreads to rate my books as I read them, and the reviews for this book are a bit all over the place – the people who didn’t like it claim it’s just a Stephen King/Michael Crichton mashup with some of The Abyss thrown in the blender – and I suppose that’s fair. But hey, all three of those things are freaking awesome, so why wouldn’t you want that combo?

If I had any complaint about The Deep (other than it giving me nightmares), it would be that Cutter may have bitten off more than he could reasonably be expected to chew here. That is to say, there is SO much going on that it distracted a bit from our main characters. A partial list of the scary stuff in this book includes: Missing children, self-harm, obese and terrible parents, sexual abuse, clowns, bees, cancerous test animals, the dark, drowning, raging epidemics that take our loved ones... and on and on. I would have been scared by just the dark!!!

Hardcover Honey verdict – 4 out of 5 childhood terrors!!