Release Date: January 2014 (ebook)
Publisher: Gallery Books
My Rating: 3/5
Cover: I like it. I think it fits the story well and portrays the isolation of the island while looking ominous.
Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.
Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.
Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.
“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.
I’m just now starting to delve into NetGalley, after having signed up over two years ago without actually using it. I had The Troop on my TBR list and was pretty excited that my request was accepted. The rough copy of the book took some getting used to. But I understand that it’s an ARC copy so I eventually got over the weird formatting and lack of editing. I briefly skimmed over other reviews and came away with a wide range of likes and dislikes people had while reading. I don’t like to do too much research on a book before reading because I like to go in with a “clean slate”. Anyhow, I had some prior knowledge on what to expect – gory details, animal abuse, something shocking/disturbing. What I got out of The Troop are exactly these things and more! However, I felt the execution and character depth were both lacking and I honestly had a tough time staying interested at times.
While the sense of honor and duty within the Boy Scouts can be found in some passages, I never really got a sense that this rag-tag group of kids and their Scoutmaster were ever truly connected. They had years of history together but I was quite shocked by how quickly things fell apart for all of them. The friendship and family-like bond was pretty much non-existent. I also had a hard time connecting to any of the cookie-cutter characters. Each boy had personalities that were very distinct and different but none of them truly stood out. Their personalities were a little too cliché and I found it hard to care much about them, or what happened to them.
But was I scared? Hell yeah! But I was more scared of the reality of the plot. Icky germs, parasitic worms and viruses, things that do nothing but eat, breed, and destroy, diseases that spread regardless of safety precautions all tend to freak me out. It’s always the unseen enemy that can do the worst and isn’t it always the unknown that scares us the most? The fact that the evil in this book isn’t a psychopathic serial killer, mutant monster, flesh-eating zombie, or creepy alien scares the crap out of me. Did the author actually scare me through his writing? Eh, not really. While I appreciated his overly very dramatic metaphors and detailed scenes I was never really engaged enough to be truly scared by the actual delivery.
Nick Cutter is a pseudonym and I couldn’t figure out who he was until I read a review on Goodreads that stated he put his real name on the copyright page. Very cute. So now that I know about “Mr. Cutter’s” other work I’d very much like to try it out. Some readers won’t like the detail of some of the scenes or the animal abuse/experimentation in The Troop. And while I didn’t get a true sense of horror I still thought it was a good story. Would I read it again? Probably not, but I’m not sorry that I did read it. Although I did lose interest a time or two during my reading I still enjoyed the book overall. The way the story was told through the narrative and through an outside perspective was actually pretty cool. To make the bigger picture make more sense clues were dispersed in front of some chapters. These could be found in the form of interviews, news bulletins, diary entries, court evidence and documents, etc. These elements helped make sense of what the boys were going through on the isolated island. So I definitely say give this one a go, maybe by borrowing, to see if you’d like to give it a permanent home on your bookshelf.