Gallery Books: 2/25/2014
Hardcover, 368 pages
Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well-liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked . . .It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected . . . or one another.Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written, edge-of-your seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity . . . and terror hungers for more.
The Troop by Nick Cutter (pseudonym) is a true horror novel full of enough graphic, gory, disgusting scenes to make anyone's stomach heave. If you are a fan of terror novels it's highly recommended.
In The Troop something is very hungry. When the emaciated man shows up in Prince County diner on Prince Edward Island, and can't get enough to eat, it raises suspicions. It is the beginning of a nightmare for a boy scout troop camping out on Falstaff Island, PEI, when the hungry man steals a boat. Looking like death itself he ends up on Falstaff island, and comes to the scout's cabin looking for food.
The boy scouts are led by Dr. Tim Riggs. The five boys - Kent, Ephraim, Max, Shelly, and Newton - are all Venture Scouts and around 14 years old. They have known each other their whole lives. This camping trip is probably their last trip together before they all begin to go their separate ways. When Tim hears the boat approaching the island he knows two things. It is a boat and that he and the boys had no weapons other than knives and a flare gun.
When the skeletal wreck of a man shows up, Tim knows instinctively that this man is sick in some unnatural way that he has never encountered. It sends a spike of pure dread down his spine and he knows that this man is unclean. What the scouts don't know is that the military has been tracking the sick man. They know about the bioengineered nightmare the man's body contains, the threat it poses, and they cordoned off the area, establishing a no-fly, no-watercraft zone. It means the scouts are left to face the unknown terror on their own.
Cutter uses excerpts of newspaper clippings, interviews, journal entries, and magazine profiles interspersed in the story to provide background information or give extra insight into Dr. Clive Edgerton's scientific experiment gone terribly wrong. This works quite well in the story. We're privy to information the scouts don't have but we also gain extra insight into the scouts themselves.
Clearly, the scouts themselves are all obvious stereotypes of various types of teens. This is blatant enough that it does seem formulaic and you know that in reality these kids would not still be in scouts together. This didn't bother me because the point of the novel is the gruesome story and the terror it induces as you read.
The Troop is not for the faint-hearted or anyone with a sensitive stomach. There is some pure terror along with blood and guts and gore. Cutter is graphic in descriptions of scientific experiments on and abuse of animals. Most importantly, if you have any squeamishness over worms, skip this one.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books via Edelweiss for review purposes.