" The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. This is old-school horror at its best." --Stephen King 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 bonfire. Read more...
"The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. This is old-school horror at its best." --Stephen King 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 bonfire. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There'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. Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later--and all-consuming--this tightly written, edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity...and terror hungers for more.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-10-28
- Reviewer: Staff
This predictable, carnage-filled thriller from the pseudonymous Cutter will appeal mainly to horror fans. On Falstaff Island, off Prince Edward Island, a troop of boy scouts encounters Thomas Henry Padgett, aka “the Hungry Man,” a victim of military research gone terribly wrong. An act of charity toward Padgett, who carries a deadly contagion, turns out to be a big mistake that leaves the scouts with no choice but to rely on their limited tools and rudimentary survival skills. Meanwhile, an alarmed military has quarantined Falstaff Island to protect the world from the evil released there. While the boys have many options, escape is not among them. Competent prose makes up in part for stock characters—the nerd, the popular kid, the quiet psychotic. Cutter’s appeal to modern-day disquiet over the ethical lapses of the military-industrial complex will strike many as pro forma rather than based in any authentic outrage over abuses real or imagined. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)
On my honor, I will . . . die
It is a cool October night on Falstaff Island, about nine miles off of Prince Edward Island, and Scoutmaster Tim Riggs is enjoying a sip of scotch. He can hear his five 14-year-old scouts talking and laughing in the next room, most likely telling ghost stories before they fall asleep. All six are completely unaware of the horrifying turn their annual camping trip is about to take.
The familiar comfort of their night is interrupted by the sound of a motorboat approaching the island. The boat’s sole passenger is a grotesquely gaunt, obviously very ill man who’s so frantic with voracious hunger that he’ll eat anything, even a moth-eaten chesterfield sofa. Tim, a small-town doctor, at first tries to help the man—and keep him away from the naturally curious boys. Tim soon discovers, however, that the stranger is infected with something more dangerous, deadly and contagious than he could have ever imagined. And so begins the terrifying thrill ride that is Nick Cutter’s The Troop.
Cutter’s decision to alternate perspectives between chapters is a wise one. Not only does it allow readers to get to know each character (and their backstories), but it also keeps us guessing as to who—if anyone—is going to make it through the ordeal. They’re a ragtag but close-knit group: Kent, the arrogant jock, most popular guy in school; Ephraim “Eff,” the troubled, anger-prone youth; Eff’s best friend, Max, earnest and loyal; Newton, overweight and socially awkward; and Shelley, a loner with some unsavory interests.
Reminiscent of Scott Smith’s The Ruins and with shades of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Stephen King’s “The Body” (on which the film Stand by Me was based), The Troop is brutally visceral, pulling readers right into the action, tapping into our most primal fears: isolation, hunger, survival. Cutter is at his best when describing the ooey-gooeyness of infection—the stench, the sounds, the texture—and in articulating the abject and utter terror of the characters unlucky enough to witness, or experience, these ooey-gooey happenings. The book isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you’re intrigued by what you’ve read so far, then chances are you’ll enjoy succumbing to the thrills of this highly entertaining page-turner.