Once a year, scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip; a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder — shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry — stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected … and one another. (less)
The Troop is terrifically disturbing body horror story, not for the faint of heart. Creepy, disgusting, visceral and vividly imagined, Nick Cutter balances the truly terrifying with the truly disgusting expertly.
At the core of this tale are Scoutmaster Tim Riggs and scouts, Ephraim, Kent, Shelley, Newt and Max. The relationship between these boys is the backbone of this story. Underneath the blood, guts and bodily fluids is a dark coming-of-age story. Cutter is able tap into the kids’ psyche in a way that I haven’t seen outside of Stephen King, who is undoubtedly an influence here. Each kid stands out as an individual, having they’re own voice, personality and motivation. Never did they say anything out of character for someone their age.
The setting, a quarantined island, is a character of itself. The creeping shadows, ambiguous sounds and wildlife all add to the terror and suspense as this troop of teenagers fight to survive not just this mysterious disease, but each other.
I’ve mentioned a few times that this novel can be quite disgusting and disturbing. This book won’t be for everyone. First, there are a few scenes of animal abuse that are very upsetting. Nick Cutter does not shy away from descriptions of very unsettling imagery. Much of the horror in The Troop is enacted on children and animals which heightens the tension and terror.
Underneath all that, you will find some beautiful passages meditating on life, its fleeting nature and its worth. How far will you go to preserve it, to extend it. And what happens when there is no hope. What does it mean to be hopeless?
The Troop is without a doubt dark and over the top. It strives to make you squirm and succeeds in spades. My flesh crawled, my stomach turned, my heart raced and a few times, my eyes teared up. Beautiful and disturbing, Nick Cutter is a rising star in no-holds-barred horror, The Troop is a brilliant debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next.*
*spoiler alert, already read his other two books. Reviews to come.