Do you like Tom Clancy? It’s not a trick question I swear. He’s a super popular author, with a devoted following, and he sells millions of books a year. He is arguably the most popular author in the last hundred years, and he is definitely the most popular author of military fiction and techno-thrillers.
I don’t like his books.
It’s not that they’re bad, or poorly written, or anything else. I’m just not the guy that Tom Clancy is writing for, and that’s OK. I don’t need to be.
100 Fathoms Below reads like the bastard offspring of a weekend tryst between Clancy and that other super-star writer, Stephen King. It combines the precision and clarity of Clancy’s work with the creeping horror of some off King’s quieter work. And when the monsters finally come out of the closet, the blood flows like the goriest of King’s catalogue.
You see, 100 Fathoms Below is about vampires on a submarine. You know where this going right? Deep black ocean, sealed metal tube, no sunlight, nowhere to run, and who knows how many of them are on board with you. The setting restricts the options to a very narrow band of possibility. It forces the humans to fight, to survive without backup or relief, and to do so without access to the tools that often resolve these sorts of stories.
This sounds like it should be a match made in heaven, right? And maybe for you it would be. For me, it just didn’t work. The Clancy-esque parts felt slow and I got bored, because I don’t care about how a submarine operates. The King-esque parts felt weird and like they didn’t belong in such a serious, grounded work. It never meshed in a way that I could enjoy. But hey, maybe that’s because I just don’t like Tom Clancy?
If you think a Mashup of The Hunt For Red October with Salem’s Lot sounds cool, this is the book for you. Maybe this will be your peanut butter and chocolate moment. For me, it was more like onions on a pizza. I understand there are people who like onions, but I just don’t, and adding them to something I like doesn’t make onions better. It makes pizza worse.