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Monday, January 10, 2022

Book review: Deep Five by Ron Walters


Book links: Goodreads, Amazon

AUTHOR INFO: Ron Walters is a former journalist, college registrar, and stay-at-home dad who writes science fiction and fantasy for all ages. A native of Savannah, GA, he currently lives in Germany with his wife, two daughters, and two rescue dogs. When he’s not writing he works as a substitute high school teacher, plays video games, and does his best to ignore the judgmental looks his dogs give him for not walking them more often.

Published: January 11, 2022 Publisher: Angry Robot Pages: 400 Cover art: Kieryn Tyler


I don't remember what it's like not to work. First thing I do when I wake up is check my messages. Last thing I do before I go to sleep is check my messages.

The story hooked me immediately. Deep Dive is intense, emotional, and unputdownable. Peter Banuk is failing to balance his career in the gaming industry and his family life. His company's last game, Scorchfell, was a failure. He needs success more than anything.

When his friend calls him to announce he has cracked full immersion, Peter rushes to work to check it out. Think about it. Full immersion in virtual reality. A real experience that engages all the senses and feels as real as reality. Wow. That would be a game-changer!

He tries the headset. It works. And it's amazing. Until it isn't. Something goes horribly, horribly wrong and Peter wakes up, woozy, in his truck. Everything feels off. And when he discovers his life looks much different than he remembers, Peter tries to make sense of it. There are two possibilities - he's either stuck inside a computer simulation or he's lost his mind. Except, there's also the third possibility but I won't tell you a word about it. 

The less you know about the plot the better. Peter narrates the story in the first-person present tense. Unexpected revelations are as important as his emotional reactions to them. Peter's emotions feel genuine and intense.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the plot and the pacing. Ultimately, though, I cared about the narrator and his family.  Intense and skilled storytelling kept me at the edge of my seat. 

Walter's direct, accessible writing style immediately engages the reader. Active voice and the sense of immediacy inherent in a present-tense narrative intensify the narrative. The author's knack for quotable sentences makes it a pleasure to read. I highlighted a lot of passages. I'll quote two:

People say the truth will set you free, but they're wrong. The truth fucking sucks. The truth will tear your heart off your chest and crush your soul and splinter your mind until your body is nothing more than a hollow shell.

And this one:

Occam's razor has cut me so many times I've become woozy from blood loss.

Emotional? Yes.  Memorable? Yes. At least to me. And there's a genuine emotion of a husband and father doing anything possible to save his family.  

As you probably guessed, I loved Deep Dive. Sure, the ending feels rushed and tropey. The resolution didn't awe me. The thing is I don't care. I had a great time reading it and felt satisfied after finishing it. Highly, highly recommended to fans of sci-fi thrillers tackling themes of family, technology, and multiple realities.

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