Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

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Title: The Troop
Author: Nick Cutter
Genre: Horror
Pages: 368
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Summary: 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 bio-engineered 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.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Oh, THE TROOP… How can a book that plays to my strengths and my love of gore and horror and blood end up soaring and then crashing in turbulence somewhere over Canada? It’s a book I should love from cover to cover, but in the end it was a book that I loved 200 pages of, disliked 100, and then just hated the rest. Especially that failtastic ending.

THE TROOP follows boy scouts who find themselves trapped on an island with a man who has withered away to literally bones and skin and nothing more, a man who wants nothing more than to eat and eat and eat everything he sees, a man harboring a parasite that is a cross between a chest burster and my dog’s tapeworms. It’s a simple plot, akin to the vast majority of horror novels out there, and trust me, it doesn’t get much more complex. Told in

You want to know what saved this novel?

You really want to know?

The disgustingness of this book, the visceral drippings of viscera off pages, the descriptions of guts and innards and the bursting forth of parasites falling off the page into my perverted mind that sometimes craves nothing more than death and chaos and being grossed out. And I love it when a book can gross me out, even when the rest of the book falls completely flat on its poor little face.

Ahem. Let me compose myself.

Where THE TROOP succeeds is in this bloodshed and gore. The descriptions of gore are spot on and genuinely gross and horrifying. It’s the rest of the book that suffers from issues, specifically an ending that just suddenly rears up and happens without much fanfare, without much resolution, without much of anything besides something that sputters out quickly and dies. I should note here, my mother told me after she finished reading it, “When you review it, make sure you mention how much that ending sucked.”

Yeah, the ending is not this book’s strong point, and that alone is probably very responsible for this book only getting three stars. With a middle 75% that kept me glued to my seat, a beginning that took time to get into, and an ending that pissed me off, THE TROOP wasn’t everything I’d hoped for. But it did have a few things going for it. I was very into the characters, very into the action, very into the asides of interviews and articles of the aftermath. Those touches kept me interested.

But about that ending… NOPE. Nope.

Hell no.

Let’s just pretend it never happened.

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