Monday, September 30, 2013

The Troop by Nick Cutter

The TroopBoy 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.

This was one gripping story! To give you an idea of what the book is like: take a bit of The Hunger Games, add a large part of Lord of the Flies, and then throw in lots more gore and violence and you’ll have an approximation.

I’m going to start off by saying this is probably not a book for everyone. It is fast-paced and cleverly written, but it is also extremely graphic with its gore. Since the “foe” in the story is a super-worm parasite, you can imagine just how gross it can get to be. If you don’t have a queasy stomach, then it will keep you fascinated page after page.

The tension is so well established that once you start reading it’s hard to stop. I enjoyed the way the author was able to incorporate each character’s back-stories without slowing down the action too much and without an information dump. The vividness of the fear the characters feel really gets under the reader’s skin. I found myself wincing and twitching more and more as the novel progressed. It’s one of those books that are truly disturbing. The only thing I would have liked to have been written better was the ending. It felt too abrupt for the rest of the story.

If you are looking for something to give you nightmares, then this one is a good choice.

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