The Troop

The Troop by Nick Cutter
Published by Simon and Schuster on August 16, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Thrillers
Pages: 384

I really hope my review does this book justice, because The Troop by Nick Cutter is the best horror novel I’ve read this year, possibly ever! If your stomach is strong enough to handle the disgusting carnage contained in The Troop’spages, then this is a must-read.  Boy Scouts and body horror are near and dear to my heart. I immediately purchased a copy as soon as I heard this book combined both.  This was my first time reading a Nick Cutter book and I was impressed.  This book includes some of the foulest descriptions I’ve ever read (many made me audibly gasp) along with well written characters.

Five scouts, along with their scout master are camping on Falstaff Island, off the cost of Canada when a mysterious stranger arrives on a boat.  The stranger is emaciated and clearly sick. The scout master decides to provide medical care to the man and soon discovers that he is infected with a deadly and highly contagious parasite. The story becomes a fight for survival as the scouts try to escape the island.  Each of the five scouts represents a distinct archetype, such as the jock, the nerd, and the loner.  Cutter does an excellent job of developing the characters beyond their archetypes through flashbacks.  The scouts were all equally developed, which I appreciated. This way it was not obvious which boys would survive the longest.  Throughout the island narrative Cutter incorporates excerpts from different forms of media (newspaper articles, interviews, trial notes) that slowly reveal the origin of the parasitic monster. Nick Cutter has credited Stephen King’s Carrie for the inspiration of the media clippings between the chapters.

Without spoiling the best bits, here are a few stomach-turning quotes from the novel:

“Christ he was so hungry.  He’d eaten so much at that roadside diner that he’d ruptured his stomach lining—the contents of his guts right now were leaking through the split tissue, into the crevices of his organs”.

“The flesh over his skull had melted down his forehead.  The electricity had somehow loosened his skin without actually splitting it. Gravity had carried the melted skin downward:  it wadded up along the ridge of his brow like a crushed-velvet curtain, or the skin on top of unstirred gravy pushed to one side of the pot. His hair had come down with it. His hairline now began in the middle of his forehead”.

“…his gums had been eaten back from his teeth, and all but one—his left front incisor—had loosened and fallen from their gum beds; yet they remained connected by” his “braces, gray teeth linked like charms on a gruesome bracelet, clicking and clacking in the dark vault of his mouth, all hanging by that one tenacious tooth…which, as” he “watched, slid from” his “gums with a slick sucking sound, a bracelet of teeth bouncing over his lips, his chin, tumbling to the cellar steps”

If these repulsive excerpts are your jam I beg you to add this novel to your TBR immediately.  Essentially, this book is Lord of the Flies with a lot more violence.  I was left unsettled and jumpy, just like after I’ve viewed a great horror film.

Trigger Warnings:  Gnarly Graphic Violence, Animal Violence