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 bonfre. 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.
©2013 Nick Cutter (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio
There hasn't been many moments as a bookophile that i have broken out in goosebumps but i certainly did during 'The Troop'. If Chuck Palahniuk wrote Lord of the Flies after watching 'Cabin Fever' you might come close to what Nick Cutter achieved here. Outstanding.
I'm not really sure where, or how, to begin with my review of this book. After reading the other reviews, I was actually a bit afraid to buy it and start listening. When King says something "scared the hell out of [him]", it makes me pause and think long and hard whether or not I want to do that to my psyche. I did, clearly, choose to press play.
I can say one thing, for certain- this is a supremely well written story. It will *clearly* not be everyone's cup of tea. However the detail and carefully placed word selections helped make this a throughly captivating listen. Cutter uses classic rhymes and tropes, familiar to anyone who has spent time in Scouts or camping, with rhythmic and pulsating effect. The suspense of the book is twisted notch by painful notch, from the first page to the last.
In turning to the focus of so many of the other reviews: yes, this book is not for the squeamish. Yes, there are brief scenes of harm to animals. Yes, it has imagery that may be exceptionally disturbing to some.
I actually was not that disturbed by much of the book. To expose a bias, or potential desensitization, I am a criminal defense attorney and was trained as an EMT. As a general rule, dealing with psychopathy or sociopathy (which are explored in depth within this book) does not shock or surprise me. The "gross out" factor didn't hit me that hard either. I will say that I didn't eat, eat, eat... anything while I was listening, lol. The only thing that actually gave me pause was the short chapter on the psychopath character and an animal. That was... disturbing.
However, hiding beneath the surface of the gore and horror is a story which is more emotional and cutting- Cutter takes the standard characters of youth and exposes them to his nightmare. The expected becomes the unexpected, but from the perspective of a 14 year old boy. Speaking as someone who was once a 14 year old boy, and one who was very much like Newton, Cutter hit the nail on the head. He plumbs the reservoirs of strength and perseverance in the face of abject horror as well as the psychological horrors we inflict on ourselves. He explores the concepts of youth and maturity, the nature of adulthood and childhood, as well as when that line is crossed.
It is not an uplifting book. It is not a light listen. I will likely give many people nightmares. It is, however, an extremely well written examination of the human psyche when faced with the literal and allegorical monsters which lurk in all of us to one degree or another. Highest marks and recommendation, but let the listener beware.
"Seriously Messed Up Gruesome Horror"
Lord of the Flies meets Hannibal Lector. I’ve been reading horror stories since junior high and it takes a lot to ‘disturb’ me. There were points in this story that made me nauseous. There are parts I wish I could un-hear. But there were also parts that made me ache for the characters. Some of the characters that is. Hell is not hot enough for a couple of the characters. Overall I’m not sure how to judge this book. But I can warn you that there are scenes of animal torture that are ugly and graphic.
The plot is interesting. A group of boy scouts on a remote island encounter a seriously ill man. It turns out the man is carrying a contagious “disease” that infects their scout leader leaving the boys on their own. One of the boys is a secret sociopath that would make Dalmer and Bundy turn away in disgust. And then there’s the disease… well that’s another very dark road. The writing and narration were good but imho the horror is too grisly, too nasty and too real. Listen at your own risk.
"Horror that's really horrifying"
Horror fiction is in kind of a weird place right now. There's the old classic stuff, where the horror is all in the mind, and then there's the plain gross-out stuff. A lot of the first type hasn't aged well--the things that scare us now are so different than they were back then. And the gross-out kind, while fun, can get boring after a while: another eyeball falls out, another arm gets torn off, but does anything actually happen?
Not too many people are hitting the midline these days: psychological exploration of fear mixed with just enough yuck to keep things interesting. But this guy, Nick Cutter--he's right on top of that balance beam in The Troop.
Scoutmaster Tim and his troop of five boys set off for a remote location off the coast of Prince Edward Island (which itself qualifies as remote!). Everything's going great--for a little while. And then, almost immediately, things begin to unravel when a stranger arrives. A really strange stranger. Suddenly, everything is falling off the edge of normal, especially the scouts themselves.
Fans of earlier Stephen King novels may recognize the structure: everything's fine and then the Bad Thing shows up, making everyone show their true, ugly colors. But this book reads like a later King actually wrote it, especially in the characterization. The boys start off as templates: bully, nerd, weirdo, kid with issues at home, normal (if confused) kid. And then stereotypes vanish as personalities evolve and blur under the stress of the situation.
Other reviewers have mentioned that parts of this book are just plain disgusting. I actually yelled out "Oh, gross!" on the bus at one point, causing my fellow passengers to look around cautiously. But even the gross stuff wasn't just there for effect--it was disgusting, squishy, and smelly, yes, but it was also truly horrifying. Suddenly I remembered what "spine-tingling" actually means. Yikes!
The only issue I had with this edition, and it was a little issue, was the production value. The narrator was fine, but I heard a few page-turns and there were parts where the sound level dropped for a few seconds. But like I said, it was a pretty small issue.
I can't remember the last time I read a book with virtually no boring parts. This book didn't have any that I noticed. I wandered around with my earbuds on for an entire day, completely glued to the story. I kept listening for "tells" that might point to Stephen King actually writing this book--apparently it's a first novel, but that was hard to believe because it's just so good (I don't think Stephen King wrote this...but I can't be entirely sure!). If you love horror that's really horrifying, and you don't mind some squishy parts, you will love The Troop.
"Solid horror from start to finish"
I have always been a huge fan of the horror genre--be it book, film, or tv--but good horror, especially good horror literature, can be hard to find. When it comes to film, there are horror movies that are so bad they're good. This does not hold true for horror novels. Bad horror novels are just bad, they cannot be redeemed.
Luckily, The Troop is one of those rare finds, a horror novel that entertains and terrifies from beginning to end. Cutter's description of the adolescent state of mind, their hopes, fears, insecurities, etc., is perhaps the best I've read since "It" or "The Body." And Corey Brill does a great job narrating the story and giving each boy his own voice.
I recommend this novel to any horror fan. It's a gory mess from the first to last...and I mean that in the best way.
This was good. Wow. Scary as hell, and so well done. I usually don't go in for this sort of thing, but wow, wow, wow. This really messed with my head.
"Agreed. This is scary stuff!"
Wanted to confirm that this really is an excellent choice in the horror genre. I love horror movies and books, and I had to take a couple breaks from this to something a bit more lighthearted every few hours' worth of listen. Some of the descriptions and the scenes thought up here are really quite graphic and hit on a lot of dark fears. A bit slower in the middle, but worth hanging in there. Have something fun and comedic to listen to right afterwards. Recommended!
"Huge terror on an individual scale"
"The Troop" is one of those novels that will stay with me long after the reading is done. I was reluctant to take a chance on this book, thinking that it was going to be a grim, gory story of survival. And well, it is that....but it's a lot more, too. Survival stories don't matter much if we don't feel for those struggling to survive. If we can't empathize with them, what do we care about their plight?
Fortunately, we do care about these characters. With one exception (a character who is unlovable and with whom we cannot empathize except perhaps as a fellow human being), the characters are all flawed, but very recognizable and human. We want very much for them to survive.
Nick Cutter's writing is beautiful, and helps to make the struggles of these five boys and their Scoutmaster into something universal and understandable. This was a great book, and really well-narrated.
"Well written gore fest for horror fans"
The Troop is an excellent horror story that will probably surprise you wit the direction it takes in the story. Certainly, one knows what sort of story one is in for when the author leads things off with a quotation from Lord of the Flies. But just wait and see what terrors await them on this weekend camping trip!
The writing is excellent - in fact, the description is so horribly visceral, you may have to take a break from time to time from the gore. The narrator was absolutely fantastic - sounded exactly like John Malkovich - who better to narrate this twisted tale?
""Ah! It's inside me!""
The Troop is good. Stephen King good. It's no surprise it got blurbed by King — it's just the sort of creepy, gross, and disturbing tale he wrote in his glory days, where the real horror is not the supernatural or science gone mad, but how human beings treat each other.
Five boys in a Boy Scout troop, led by small-town doctor Scoutmaster Tim, embark on a weekend of camping and merit badge-collecting on a tiny island off the coast of Canada. Unfortunately, someone else joins them on the island, a visitor who is gaunt and almost insane with hunger.
Once the bad stuff starts happening, the boys notice that there are boats, military boats, surrounding the island. And no one is coming to rescue them.
This is not a book for those with weak stomachs or who can't handle stories in which children die. You will grow attached to these five boys - Kent, the big, brash son of the town's police chief; Max, sensible and easy-going; Ephraim, fearless, wired, coiled and angry; Shelly, the odd, "slow" boy who makes everyone uneasy; and Newt, the chubby, nerdy butt of everyone's jokes.
This boys' adventure is a pretty horrific survival tale. It's got blood and guts and solid characterization, and smooth, pleasing writing that will still creep you the hell out. As a long-time Stephen King fan, and a former Boy Scout, The Troop gets high marks from me - I will definitely be checking out Nick Cutter's next.
"Good if you like gross..."
I love the horror genre and can take a good bit of gore. The premise of this story and the characters were good.. similar to Steven King's style (who I love!) At some point it just got to be too much "gross" and not enough story / character building so I just had to stop listening to it. If you can't get enough horror and gore this book is for you!
I wish when I had purchased this book that there was reviews for it but there was not so I took chance, In a way I am glad I did because this was a horrific story just some innocent boy scouts going on a camping trip that turns into a total nightmare.The island they camp on is highly infected and they all have to fight for survival, the down side is the graphic detail of animal cruelty is more disturbing than anything if like myself you are a animal lover think twice about this book!
Putting that aside though its a fantastic story.
"A bit disturbing, but hard to stop listening."
Not sure I would want to say this was a book I "enjoyed"... It was certainly a very good story that kept me listening. BUT There is lot of pretty graphic description in there, which I don't usually mind and would not usually comment on as such. Occasionally seemed a little bit unnecessary. Without spoilers, at one point a sea animal has to be killed for food, the long slow brutal death is described in a lot of detail, it is not easy listening. I very nearly stopped listening at that point finding it a bit too drawn out and unpleasant for comfort. That said it is a credit to the writer and the narrator that this is the first time I have ever felt like stopping listening to a book as the description of a death was making me feel uncomfortable as it was so realistic. Not sure I would like to spend long inside the writers mind to be honest though, think it might be a dark place! Usually I just zip past the deaths in a story without a second thought. Its a good story, a very good story, but also disturbing - a bit like lord of the flies, with a very gruesome infectious disease and a fledgling serial killer thrown in just for good measure - maybe a bit of "the wasp factory" in there as well. If they ever make a movie of this, I expect it will be seriously edited by the censors. You need a bit of a strong stomach for this one ;) I find this really hard to give 5 stars to as its was sometimes disturbing listening - but then feel I have to give it 5 stars as it really did make me react in a way not many books have done... OK 5 stars then - but with the note that I didn't like it!?
"Glued to it from the first chapter"
Echoes of early Stephen King rein supreme in this brilliant thriller/horror. With wonderful characterisation and truly horrific scene setting this book will not disappoint. Nick Cutters use of teenage innocence in an adult world is utterly mesmerising. Not for the faint of heart but a true horror classic
This was a great horror story which reminded me of The Lord Of The Flies mixed with a dash of Dreamcatcher. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who can't handle animal cruelty (there is a fair amount of it) but this was by no means a bad book. It's highly disturbing but well written and hard to put down. I liked that there was no main character in the book and that every character got their own time in the narration spotlight. It was interesting to know what each person was feeling and thinking and it also meant there was no way to know who would live or die. At some points, the author delves into the mind-workings of a sociopathic character which I found to be just as disturbing as the main events of the story.
I wasn't too fond of the interviews, logs, and police documents that were interspersed between chapters though. I get that they were supposed to give the listener a better understanding about how the circumstances on the island came to be (and some of them were good) but many were just outright tedious and took away from the main story at times.
At first I wasn't too keen on Corey Brill's semi-monotone narration, but it soon added to the creepy feel of the story and his portrayal of certain characters was chilling.
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