Review: Pressure by Brian Keene


Off the coast of Mauritius, an ecological catastrophe with global implications is occurring.  The ocean floor is collapsing at a rapid rate.  Marine biologist Carrie Anderson joins a scientific expedition to try and figure out what is going on and how to stop it.  But what they uncover is far more horrific.  Deep beneath the surface, something is awake.  Something is hungry.  Something… cold.  Now the pressure builds as Carrie and her colleagues must contend with murderous operatives of a corrupt corporation, and unnatural disaster and a monstrous predator that may spell the extinction of mankind.

Pressure by Brian Keene.  276 pages, hardback, by St. Martin’s Press, 2016.

Pressure is split in two.  Part one focuses on trying to figure out what is going on with the collapsing hole in the ocean, and dealing with the creature they find living in there.  Part two focuses on the main characters recovering from the creature confrontation while dealing with an attempted cover up of the events from part one.  Both parts saw a fair share of action and suspense and this was a very quick, entertaining read.  Felt like more of a thriller / suspense genre instead of horror.

The main character is Ms. Carrie Anderson.   She is a talented free diver and oceanographer.  I loved the way this character handled herself.  Even in scary situations where she was scared, she wasn’t afraid to tell the bad guy to piss off.  And she cursed! You rarely see cursing from women characters in books and it is something I have always felt is so unrealistic.  That whole “ladylike” stereotype that women characters fall in to often, like women never curse like sailors.  Such crap!  Carrie had a very “real” way of talking and it was great!  I also liked how she didn’t just have a cliched love life relationship.  The guy was a jerk and she finally realized it and didn’t get sucked in to anymore of his stupidity.  She wasn’t just one of those woman characters who was SOOOOOO in love and their love was a special love and everything was wonderful in the end.  Not every hot guy is the greatest guy ever.  Again, it felt more realistic.

The creature was a unique sort of sea creature that I’ve never seen before, so that really stood out.  Very clever creation that just felt like a nasty, creepy creature to run in to.  Glad I wasn’t in the water with it!  You never got a 100% clear description of it, allowing your imagination to run free to imagine all kinds of oddities.  I personally kept thinking of John Carpenter’s The Thing, but underwater! *Shivers*  There were a few things about the creature that would have benefited from a little bit more clarity.  Like, why and how did the creature create cold spots?  How exactly was it disrupting all the electronics not in the water?  Was the creature creating the hole and if so, why? How?  These questions had vague answers and sometimes you were left unsure if those answers were the truth or guesses made by the main characters.   What really bothered me about the creature, though, was that there just simply wasn’t enough of the creature!  You see it’s shadow a couple of times and then one or two big fight scenes and then…. that’s it.  I was kinda disappointed that the creature part of the book was over so soon.

*This paragraph contains a big spoiler!!!* The creature wasn’t the only thing that left you with questions and or had vague answers.   Nanobots were put in to the water.  They created the creature.  The creature is dealt with.  Everyone just goes on their merry way.  Wait, but what about the nanobots?? Did anyone clean them up?  HOW can you even clean them up once they are in the ocean?  If nobody cleaned up the nanobots, doesn’t that mean they are just going to continue destroying things and creating more creatures??  This was kind of a big deal and it wasn’t adequately dealt with.   Something else vaguely glossed over was what happened to the person responsible for the nanobots going in to the water in the first place?  The story ends with everyone getting their lawyers and contacting the press and waiting to see what happens in court.  What?  But….. what?? So…. WTF happened?? Did that person get in trouble?  Go to jail? I mean… his company kinda screwed up the ocean on a permanent level….  It would have been nice to know what happened after he got caught.

Pressure is an entertaining, quick read, with a few spots of uncertainty.  It had a creative plot, unique creature and realistic characters.  For a sea creature book, sadly there just wasn’t enough sea creature. Not scary enough to be horror, but suspenseful enough to put it in the techno-thriller category.



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