The Troop, by Nick Cutter

The Troop by Nick Cutter is a horror book that mixes a Lord of the Flies scenario with a contagion scenario.  It starts off interestingly enough with a boy scout troop heading for a camping excursion to an isolated island off the coast of Canada.  Disaster is unknowingly headed their way in the form of a dangerously infected man.

The first hundred pages or so is spent largely getting to know the boys in the troop and waiting for disaster to literally wash up on the shore of their island.  It’s largely successful in getting to know the boys and developing a certain amount of suspense and dread.  Unfortunately, the character development pretty much stops there and the rest of the novel descends into gross outs and cruelty rather than suspense or horror.  The boys settle into sort of cookie-cut out characters.  A Breakfast Club for horror.  The nerd, the athlete, the angry kid, the pyschopath, etc.

The infection or contagion brought to the island is at first interesting, but becomes less frightening and more disgusting as the book goes on.  A similar sort of fright was recently done much better by Seanan McGuire (as Mira Grant) in Parasite.  Cutter goes over the top here and creates revulsion rather than fear.  

Flash forwards that cover the investigation after the fact and show both how the contagion (for lack of a better term to avoid spoilers) was created and how life in the hometown of the boys changes after the incident are well done.  They are in fact, far more interesting than the events on the island.  Unfortunately, they are confined to a few pages in between chapters.  If the story were reversed, with the events on the island told briefly through flashbacks, I believe the book would have been far more interesting and more frightening.  

The Troop aims for terror but settles for disgusting.  I would not have bothered finishing if I hadn’t agreed to review it.  I’ll give it credit for an interesting beginning, but it’s all downhill from there. There are far better reads out there than this one.  Not recommended.

I received an advance copy of this book.

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