Nick Cutter’s The Deep will more than likely go down in history as the only three-star book to make it onto my Top 20 Reads list.
The Deep is easily the scariest book I’ve ever read, but the content I found scariest seems to have been taken part and parcel from some of my favorite movies. The blurb touts that this book is “The Abyss meets The Shining”, yet a more apt description would be: “Event Horizon shags Sphere who then fornicates with Carpenter’s The Thing.” Entire sections of those three movies (Event Horizon, Sphere, and The Thing) show up in Cutter’s newest novel. Not subtle nods either, but exact replications of stuff that happens in those films. Whether this was done as a tribute to these films or not remains to be seen. I do believe that the most glaring rip off in this book is a bit of dialogue that mimics a healthy dose of dialogue from Event Horizon. I will not spoil anything for you, but if you’ve seen EH then I’ll have you recall the part where Laurence Fishburne describes someone being burned alive in zero G. Replace zero G with a sinking sub full of diesel fuel and you have: The. Exact. Same. Scene. Cutter, this is where I cut my eyes at you and ask: “Dafuq, dude?”
So why didn’t I completely pan this? Why am I giving it three stars instead of one? The answer to that is: This book is balls-out entertaining. Had I paid for it, I would have felt as if I’d gotten my money’s worth. In fact, I even plan on buying the hardcover when it comes out. And, honestly, Cutter kinda owns what he steals. Meaning, his book manages to be scarier and even more enjoyable than the three films I mentioned above. Of course this is my subjective opinion. I know many people will hate this novel simply on principle, but I can’t do it. How does that old saying? There are only eight story lines in existence? See also: There’s nothing new under the sun. I think a creative person can only strive to be better than those that went before them, and it takes a fathomless amount of balls and talent to tackle such an overused premise and make it your own.
With all that said, there are a handful of original creepy scenes in this book. Anything having to do with the Tickle Trunk (awesome name, by the way) or the millipede is horror gold. Our main character Luke is more than just passing good. He’s flesh and blood, as are his support players. Cutter’s character development is on point, and even better here than with The Troop. Oh, and the book has one helluva opening. Praying mantises have always unsettled me.
In summation: If you’re a fan of movies like Event Horizon, Sphere, and The Thing you’re either going to love The Deep or you’re going to be filled with a soul-crushing hatred, like a PETA member at a fur coat convention. If you can escape the shock of how blatantly Cutter thieves his way through this book, you’ll have a good time getting your pants scared off of you. Or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have never seen any of those films. Read it or don’t, because I can’t, in good faith, recommend it, though I want to, so badly. Sad Panda.