Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter
I had high hopes for The Troop as a top contender this month that could deprave me from falling asleep out of fear. Nick Cutter's popular novel is often described as a classic for body horror and I was excited to see how many hours of rest I would miss out on.
Scoutmaster Tim leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip. 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. 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. I am so happy that The Troop was on my TBR for October. I got a taste of a real horror book in all its glory. Stephen King's blurb doesn't lie - this is old school horror at its best. A common criticism of The Troop is the typical characters that you tend to find in any horror movie - the bully, the quiet one, the overweight one, the nerd, the sidekick etc. However, as a fanatic fan of horror movies, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There is a reason why these personality types work perfectly as a cohesive unit in a horror scenario, and the same is true of this book. It is in fact their complete inability to work together that makes their interactions so entertaining. As much as we may conjure up images of campy 80s horror when thinking of 'old school', this book is genuinely terrifying and so are some of the characters. There aren't many tropes out there scarier than psychotic or murderous children, and although these boys are adolescent, they have some very dark and disturbing tendencies. The first 100 pages were a slow build to the start of a string of unfortunate events, with some terrifying consequences. Once we are under way, the horror begins and doesn't let up. For fans of the genre, this will tick all your boxes - plenty of body horror, gore, and impending dread! I think the premise of the book is incredibly clever. We are missing a human enemy, and instead the boys are trapped, slowly gaining information on their inevitable vile fate if they fail to escape. The descriptions are graphic and shocking (what you'd expect from death by a biologically engineered tapeworm). The setup was clever, with inspirations taken from Stephen King's Carrie, with the inclusion of interviews, newspaper clippings and police reports. Dropping in hints throughout the book allowed the reader to be privy to information that the characters did not know yet. This was a genius way to continue to build suspense for the reader without having to push unrealistic amounts of information onto the characters (frankly, how much can they really discover when trapped on an island?) Looking for something to get your heart racing this season? Look no further! I absolutely loved reading The Troop - it was exactly what I was looking for this month and more.
Initial Prediction: 4.5 stars
Final Rating: 5 stars
Publication Date: 25 February 2014 (my edition: 22 July 2014)
Publisher: Pocket Books
# of Pages: 520