Title: The Troop
Author: Nick Cutter
Date Read: October 5, 2013
ARC from Netgalley
Summary: Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.
Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.
Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.
“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget. goodreads
Review: Disgusting. Gross. Revolting. Nauseating. Sickening. Phenomenal writing. Those are the words that come to my mind when I think of this book. I've never read anything by Cutter before, but prior to saying anything else about this book, let me give credit where credit is due. Cutter is an exceptional writer. It is only because of this that I felt the first five feelings of this review. Cutter is able to describe in such detail, that you can feel your skin crawling and it actually makes you sick to your stomach to read. And hungry! (Have to read the book to get that reference.)
When I read the summary for this book on Netgalley, I focused on the words Lord of the Flies and Stephen King. Two things I'm a fan of, so I requested it. I probably should have focused more on The Ruins part of the summary because I was not prepared for the graphic detail and goriness that was waiting for me in the pages of this book. I love horror movies and books but I'm the person who prefers the psychological thrillers to the gore. Give me Paranormal Activity over Saw any day of the week! That being said, this was not the book for me. It was too gory. Too gory by a long shot. There were points when I almost couldn't pick it back up because it so was physically painful for me to read. I think this is a personal thing and does not describe the book as a whole. If you are into the gore, and have a strong stomach, I would recommend this book to you in an instant. The character development and the writing is top notch. If you are not one who enjoys disgustingly vivid descriptions, stay away.
Now, onto the actual substance of the book. This story focuses on a troop of adolescents and I thought the characterizations were very well done. It seemed like the boys were all very different from each other but the author addressed a lot of the personality traits that people start to see emerge in adolescence. The cool thing about this story was that these traits started to emerge rapidly due to the stressors surrounding them. Some of the boys succumbed to the evil that was already living inside of them, some succumbed to the psychological strain that was imposed on them, and some succumbed to the evil that was done to them by others. They all had their weaknesses and strengths and the author did a good job of exposing them. I also really enjoyed the format which consisted of flashbacks, news stories, reports, interviews, and present happenings. Cutter gave a nod to King's horror novel Carrie and the format of that story and this one parallels that a lot. I rated this book a 2/5 because while it was painful to get through and I would never read it again, I think the writing, characterization, and story line were well done which earns it more than a 1.