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.

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