In Nick Cutter’s The Troop, what starts as a weekend retreat for a scout troop on a small, deserted island turns into something so horrifying it took me awhile to finish this book because I had to take it in small doses. After all, it’s hard to read with your eyes scrunched closed.
What, you say, could be so frightening? Worms. Yes, worms. I don’t want to give away a lot of details, but just think scientific experiment ending up with worms that want to devour you. Slowly, from the inside out.
Five scouts and their scoutmaster, who is also a physician, plan on learning to survive on the desolate Falstaff Island for a weekend. And learn to survive they must. Shortly after their arrival, a boat crashes onto the island. A man makes his way out of the boat. A very, very sick man. This man has something inside of him that is looking for a new place, or should I say host body, to inhabit. You guessed it, worms.
Very graphic, very gory – The Troop is definitely not for everyone, but those who like horror stories will love it. Beyond the blood and guts, though, watching the boys turn from innocent kids who look to their scoutmaster for help and guidance to boys who will do anything to anyone to survive is a fascinating and thought-provoking psychological study. The boys battle the insidious nature of the horrible disease that has invaded them as they fight for control of themselves and each other.
It is one thing to be scared by a book you’re reading because it is gory and creepy, but this book is so well written it will get to you on many other levels. One story line will be dealing with the atrocities carried out by a youthful psychopath, then you will suddenly be alongside one of his fellow scouts who is using his scout manual to try to identify edible plants on the island. Meanwhile, you will be trying to figure out who has actually been infected by the worms and how any of them will survive.
I will point out that I did skip some of this book. There is some animal abuse in the book, and I knew enough from reading the first sentence of one descriptive part to know what was going to happen and chose not to read it. This did not take anything away from the book for me, and I don’t think I am the first or last one to skip a few of the parts involving this abuse.
With no adults to lead them, the five boys struggle to survive. They will be stripped of their innocence quickly and forced to face their deepest fears and convictions while fighting for their lives. While not for the faint of heart, The Troop is sure to please horror genre fans because it is very well written and very horrifying. Just don’t do any gardening after you finish – you may see a worm and, well, it wouldn’t work out well for either of you.
– Reviewed by Karen Mitchell
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The Troop will be released on February 25, 2014.
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