Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Deep by Nick Cutter

Hardcover, 394 pages

Published January 13th 2015 by Gallery Books

The horror scene is not above the hype machine. Nick Cutter may not even be a real person but for better or worse Cutter went for a ride on the hype machine with his first horror novel The Troop. It is not a secret but Nick Cutter is the pen name for Craig Davidson a Canadian author known for works considered straight "literature." Davidson is mostly known for the powerful Rust and Bone which was made into a film that contended for Oscars. Under his real name he has gotten blurbs from the likes of Peter Straub and Clive Barker. Stephen King blurbed his first horror novel The Troop under the name Nick Cutter.

I think that last one is what set off the hype on The Troop. When you get down to it the hype was in this case justified, The Troop was to like Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever if Stephen King was given the job to give it a master’s polish. I understood why Davidson went with a pen name even though if the work under his name has dark elements his Cutter work is like old school horror.

Following up the Troop was going to take a serious horror novel. The promo materials helped to set the bar high by comparing it to The Abyss and the Shining. That second comparison was a little less obvious through most of the book and a bit of stretch but I think it is fair.

The Deep is set in a near future where humanity is suffering from the major outbreak of disease called “the gets.” I was prepared to learn much more about this world but it was simply a plot Mcguffin as Hitchcock called it. Our main Character Luke is the brother of the scientist looking for the cure for the disease in a research facility impossibly deep in the ocean. Madness has set-in at the research station and the man with the job of saving humanity has requested his brother join them.

The journey to the research station is something we have seen / read before in movies and books but I feel the author effectively conveyed the power and terror of nature. In that sense this novel reminded me of the Danny Boyle film Sunshine more than the Abyss. (p.89-90 just a fantastic moment) Once Luke goes deep into the ocean is when the horror really takes off. Without getting into spoilers about the end Luke is tested psychologically and these character moments are what really provide an experience.

With hype comes backlash, and it seems many found this book to be derivative. In this case I think the execution outweighs those problems. I found myself turning pages and feeling invested in the story. If there was a short fall for me was my interest in what was happening on the surface with the global disease, but I understand it was irrelevant to the story. The ending was not as strong as the build-up but it is impossible to discuss without spoilers. I think this is a must read for serious horror fans. if nothing else to chart the growth of this Nick Cutter Character.

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