Friday, 18 April 2014

The Troop by Nick Cutter

Description from Goodreads:

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.


It has been ages since I've read a horror novel, and I think The Troop was a good book to enter the genre once again. I started reading with an open mind, even though I had heard some mixed things about the book - and  I think it was a good decision to pick the book anyway. The Troop succeeded in being a gruesome horror novel, which I believe to be the main goal for the author, but I can't help but feeling that the book lacked that something special that would have made the book even more to my liking.

I, myself, am more of a psychological horror kind of girl rather than jump scare or slasher. And despite the fact that The Troop had quite a lot of emotional terror in it, the horror mostly was slasher orientated - lots of very graphic descriptions of all sorts of bodily abhorrences. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if the focus was more on the mental sufferings, but those who enjoy the gruesome stuff will most likely enjoy reading the book; some of the things made me lost my appetite. Cutter has a talent for drawing pictures with visual and olfactory imagery which is just perfect when you want to spook your readers. I could picture the events taking place with unquestionable clarity.

The reason why I found this books so horrific is all thanks to the bioengineered horror. The events are somewhat plausible, as god knows what sort of biohazardous experiments are going on even now, and this made the story so chilling. It's way more realistic and so also scarier as it wasn't about vampires or ghosts - this sort of event could actually take place somewhere in the near future. And it wasn't helping at all that the bioengineered targets were parasite worms - so disgusting. I don't know if there are many other things as disgusting as huge, white, infectious worms. 

My favourite thing in The Troop was that the story was told from various perspectives; how the people on the island saw and experienced the events, and how the outside world reacted to them. It was really nice change to the flow of the story when every now and there were interviews, laboratory diary entries, and direct/cross examinations of the witnesses in relation to the events, between the chapters. These variations to the traditional narration brought more depth to the story and let the readers know the context, origins, and aftermath of the events that took place on the island. In fact, I enjoyed more these supplementary additions than the actual story - they were really powerful chapters as they conveyed how dangerous the situation really was on the island. 

I didn't really connect with any of the characters except for Newton. This probably is because most of the characters were 14-year-old boys. I think I could have liked them more if they weren't all stereotypes of teenager boys: the nerd, the jockey, the trouble-maker, the boy from next door, and the creep. However, it was nice to notice that Cutter had given though to their origins and how they became to be who they were. - it gave them more complexity and helped me to cope with their caricatureness. Newton, for example, was a very interesting character and did experience the most perceivable character development, but he was the only boy on the island for whom I cared for. The stereotypes just rub me in the wrong way.

The Troop definitely wasn't what I was expecting, and it was a good read even though it wasn't perfect. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if there was more psychological horror included opposed to depictions of the bodily horror. The book was somewhat predictable, but there were also some interesting twists that I didn't see coming. It's funny how I know that if this book was made into a film, I would probably hate it, but because it was book I found it okay. Magic of the words, I suppose?

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