Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

The TroopBoy 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.

Review

I frequently make a joke about having worms. I’m often hungry due to my stupid metabolism. It’s a long-running joke, but guess who isn’t going to be making jokes about having worms after reading The Troop? That’s right. Me.

As much as I wanted to love The Troop, and be given nightmares by it, I just couldn’t get swept away. No matter how hard I tried to not get distracted, it didn’t matter. I found myself becoming distracted often and finding other things to do.

This is a shame. The Troop has an incredibly creepy premise. I know people would think something like clowns and peadophiles would be creepier, but the insidious illness spreading through the stranded group is creepy for one very good reason. It’s based on something that already exists and it creates madness in those it affects.

One of the characters helped to add to this creepiness. He was disturbing. You’ll know who I’m talking about if you’ve read, or do read, The Troop. I did love the characters. They were realistic and it was very easy to imagine their facial expressions and foibles. I was even greatly saddened by the end of the story all due to how likeable the characters were.

The Troop is definitely a horror story in the style of old-school pulp-horror. The scenes were gory and made me shudder (It was difficult to be around my worm farm…). The style was the vein of following the journey of the troop members and interspersed with reports and interviews from those related to the incident. I remember reading many a horror story utilising that technique when I was younger, but it’s been a time since I’ve read them. I’m not used to the style any more and I think this is what was working against me. All the creepiness and revolting incidents can’t make up for what I’m used to; consistently-paced and thrilling because of it.

I would guess this is more for those who love that classic style of horror. The Stephen King atmospheric type where gross and cringe-worthy events are broken up by philosophical questioning of human nature. If that’s what you love, then I recommend reading The Troop. If not, well you might want to give it a miss. Especially if you have a worm farm and a fast metabolism.

BA Features The Vines by Christopher Rice

Welcome to BA’s Book Features showcasing a small collection of books to be released this week, or showcasing a special feature as part of a blog tour and promotion event. If you’d like to have your book featured on Bookish Ardour please send an enquiry.

Author Christopher Rice and his novel The Vines

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Review: Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

Beautiful YouFrom the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of female pleasure. Sisters will be doing it for themselves. And doing it. And doing it. And doing it some more…

Penny Harrigan is a low level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, aka ‘Climax-Well’, a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed of heights of orgasmic pleasure for days on end. What’s not to like?

This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of sex toys to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called ‘Beautiful You’. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell’s plan for erotically enabled world domination must be stopped. But how?

Review

It has been years since I’ve read a Palahniuk novel. The last one was Haunted, which I loved. It was appropriately disgusting, shocking, and riveting. So much time has passed, it was a worry of mine that anything else I’d read of Palahniuk’s work would disappoint. I’m glad to say this is definitely not the case now I’ve read Beautiful You.

Beautiful You may not be disgusting in the same way as Haunted was, but is appropriately shocking and riveting. The power of the female orgasm used as a device to create a dystopian society is something I find both amusing and clever.

On the one hand you could be highly offended by a story depicting women completely controlled by pleasure. It reduces the female population to easily manipulated, shallow beings, and once again inferior to man. Except, one could argue this is how media portrays and differentiates man from woman. In Beautiful You it’s only to an extreme.

The story beginning with Penny being raped in a court room amidst a large crowd, is something I found daunting. I don’t find pleasure in reading about rape, regardless of whether it’s in fiction, or not. I did hesitate knowing Beautiful You was beginning with that scene.

Thankfully the great writing quickly overcame my hesitation. I couldn’t put Beautiful You down. Between all the erotic descriptions, the ludicrous reactions, and the depictions of addicted masses, the character development of Penny was very engaging. She’s a delightful character and Maxwell is an equally delightful villain. I did find parts of the story repetitive though, but luckily it wasn’t too much of a hindrance to my attention.

There are so many things I love about this story. I just want to read it again. It not only entertained, but it catered to my dark sense of humour. I’ll definitely be reading more Palahniuk novels and preferably in the not too distant future.

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlOn a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

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Review: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Bathing the LionIn Jonathan Carroll’s surreal masterpiece, Bathing the Lion, five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t.

When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through, wreaking mayhem wherever it touches down—a kind of infinitely powerful, merciless tornado. Because the job of a mechanic is grueling and exhausting, after a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end.

For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind…

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BA Features The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Welcome to BA’s Book Features showcasing a small collection of books to be released this week, or showcasing a special feature as part of a blog tour and promotion event. If you’d like to have your book featured on Bookish Ardour please send an enquiry.

Author Ryan Graudin and her novel The Walled City

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Review: Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

Forty AcresWhat if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

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