Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Book Review: Pressure by Brian Keene

Pressure by Brian Keene

Hardcover, First Edition, 276 pages

Published June 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Brian Keene is a giant in our field, perhaps the most well know writer of our generation of horror authors who grew up reading Stephen King, Robert McCammon and Joe R Lansdale. Keene wears the influences on his sleeves like a crowded arm of tats but the reality is he would not have become one of the youngest Grand Masters of Horror at the 2014 World Horror Convention if he didn't have a excellent ability to tell a story with his own spin. Keene is an excellent writer with a shelf of classics that if you have not read...well you need to fix that.

Keene as an artist is pretty wide open through his popular Horror Show podcast and blogs. The author made clear he was approached to write this book. Pressure is not his masterpiece but it is a fun read. If you are looking for something more you might want to read Ghoul or The Rising. I have not read The Conmplex his last book before Pressure but I will soon. This story follows a famous diver named Carrie Anderson who is hired to investigate the collapse of the sea shelf in the Indian Ocean. This alone seemed a interesting set up for a end of the world novel but it is just the Maguffin that gets Carrie down to the bottom where we find a a big surprise.

As for the claim that it was Alien meets Jaws made by the publisher seems fair for the first 100 pages or so that would have made a stronger novella that the resulting novel. It is hard to talk about the strengths or weaknesses of this book with spoiling the book a little. Consider yourself warned...

The second half of the book takes on a completely different style of story and loses the monster aspect as well as the interesting setting of the deep seas dives. I mean the existence of the monster still drives the story but the creature is MIA in the second half. Keene does some interesting stuff with the evil corporation stuff in the second half. For me this was less interesting that the monster in the first half. To Keene's credit in the hands of an author with less skill I would have lost all interest.

I respect Brian Keene as a person and as a writer and think his skill saves this book although I wish the story had stayed out at sea, or maybe the monster could have came ashore looking for it's egg. If I sound negative it is only because of the high bar Brian Keene has set for himself with a catalog of effective horror novels. This is a fun monster novel that just needed a little more focus on the monster.

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