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. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to 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. – Goodreads
TL;DR: I took The Deep as one gigantic and intense extended metaphor with a good dose of creepy crawlies, heebie-jeebies, and our ole friend, trauma. **If you are in any way squeamish, do not read this book.**
The best thing about books – or any story – is that you can literally take whatever you want from it. Therefore, The Deep felt like one giant metaphor about memory and grief and the trauma that comes from both of them, because as a horror story, it was meh at best.
These characters are isolated at the bottom of the ocean with nothing but the darkness. The darkness and the claustrophobia of their setting (think of a manmade enormous metal spider) forces them to confront their pasts, including their worst memory. Of course, the characters soon realize that there is something else at play, but come on. Talk about an obvious metaphor.
That’s not to say I didn’t like this metaphor. I liked it a lot. I thought the way the author wrote about each character’s fears and mounting paranoias was slick and nuanced and gave our otherwise bleak setting some flavor. Unfortunately, though well-written, at times, the memories and hallucinations (?) detracted from the present day because after a while, they kind of dragged and lost tension. I understand that there is a reason why we linger in these character’s thoughts (which I, of course, won’t spoil here), but just from a story perspective, they were sometimes rather heavy handed.
Speaking of heavy handed, the cruelty in this book – Jesus. Honestly, the claustrophobia didn’t bother me at all (but then again, I don’t suffer from claustrophobia) but rather the amount of torment and torture that the author puts these characters and animals through. I have a high tolerance of blood and gore in books, and I think that’s because I’m not actually seeing them, but in this book, the cruelty was written so vividly that the descriptions felt surreal to read because in my mind I was like, “This cannot be happening.” In short, if you are squeamish in any way, shape, or form, skip this book entirely.
Now, the ending. Ugh. What a cop out, and not because I hadn’t been expecting it. I don’t give books low ratings because they are depressing or they aren’t what I expect; if they don’t fit my expectations, great, wonderful, but the storyline ultimately has to make sense! Which, to me, this one – this ending – does not. It’s depressing, yes, but that’s not what irked me: it kind of has the vibe of “Fate has a plan for everyone,” which GAH feels like a deus ex machina at best.
I have seen Nick Cutter floating around everywhere, so I decided to give The Deep a shot and was, with everything considered, disappointing. Sure, I enjoyed the extended metaphor, but it’s not anything mindblowing, and the horror part of it is just gross and rather confusing at the end. However, I do like his writing, so I might have to check out The Troop and hope that it fares better for me.
The Deep by Nick Cutter contains themes of grief and loss. The novel also features claustrophobia, big bugs, animal cruelty, animal death, human death, blood, and gore. Please read at your own risk.
Read: 09/04/22 – 09/07/22