The Troop is a new horror novel by Nick Cutter (Craig Davidson).
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 bonfre. Te boys are a tight-knit crew. Tere’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.
Why did I read The Troop?
First, Stephen King said it scared the hell out of him. Then there were comparisons to Scott Smith's The Ruins. Those two reasons alone were enough for me.
The Troop is a scary read. Although the characters in The Troop are not very realistic, the horror at the heart of The Troop is plausible. Part of the fun in reading The Troop for me was wondering what was causing the horror and then believing it could actually happen. Science related horror, for the win.
The comparisons to Scott Smith are true. The Troop was very similar in tone to The Ruins which is a great thing. There was a lot of tension so I was a nervous, happy reader.
The Troop is a stand out book. It's not just your next horror story. It's well developed and memorable.
The kids. I never thought there could be too much back story on characters, but the amount of development on the boys in The Troop made them feel unrealistic to me. Each boy fit a role and it was too convenient for each one to have such a huge (usually disturbing) back story that they had never shared with each other before.
I much preferred the biological horrors of The Troop over the psychological/human horrors.
Would I recommend The Troop to others?
Absolutely. If you are a fan of horror or thrillers and you don't mind being disturbed or even grossed out, The Troop needs to be on your list of things to read this year. I do not, however, recommend it to the squeamish.
8/10: Great Read
Review copy provided by publisher