Tuesday, August 27, 2013

[Archive] LITERAL ADDICTION's Review of The Troop

About the author, from the author: 
"Nick Cutter doesn't exactly exist—he's a pen name. A cool, tough pen name! Your mileage will vary on whether you agree, but that was the thinking. Horror writers should have crisp, punchy names. Stephen King. Clive Barker. Nick Cutter. Not that I'm putting myself in their league, no way no how, but I'm just saying that was the idea behind the name.

Personally, I wanted to be known as Lemondrop Pennyfeather, but that suggested nom de plume was cruelly stricken down.

Aaaanywhoo, I've written this book, The Troop. Do you like horror books? Do you like Boy Scouts (not in a weird, Canteen-Boyish way, but in a nostalgic way)? Do you like seeing said Boy Scouts confront a vicious enemy on an isolated Island off the coast of Prince Edward Island? If you said yes to one or more of these questions, you may enjoy this book.

As for me: I've written a few other books under another name (the one my parents gave me). A few story collections, a few novels. One of them even got turned into a movie. I've written for magazines and newspapers, too. I cobble together a living with my pen, is what I'm trying to say—by hook or by crook. It's a lean living sometimes, but it's by and large an enjoyable one.

I live in Toronto with my fiancee and our baby boy, Nick ... so, yeah, the pen name is a little bit of an honorific for my son, too; we'll see, in time, if he thinks that was such a hot idea!"

Keep up with 'Nick' online at GoodReads.

The Troop
by Nick Cutter

Buy from Amazon | B&N

Publication Date 1/7/14

Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.

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.

“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.

Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Michelle L. Olson:

*eARC Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Troop was a deeply disturbing psychological thriller, pairing the absolute terror of biological weaponry with the deviancy of human nature.

I'm a horror fan, and I didn't love The Ruins, I'll be honest. While The Troop is touted as being similar, it is, only in the sense that something MORE than natural in nature becomes the evil that our characters must face. With that said, where The Ruins let me down, The Troop most certainly did not; it's as frightful, ghastly, disturbing and macabre as I had hoped it would be.

The brilliance of the tale was its storyline simplicity - an older Boy Scout troop on a retreat get stranded on their deserted island when patient 0 from a biological research project escapes from his laboratory confines and ends up on shore. The tight box that it was all confined in allowed Cutter to focus the reader's mind on the true meat of the story - the basest instinct of human nature when faced with something so awful that most everything you've been taught flies out the window, and the psychology behind the choices we would make when forced with such a decision. 

Oh yes, in-your-face death and destruction (in horrific fashion) is rampant throughout the tale, and the basis of the evil is enough to give you the willies even without the added element of necrosis, but the more disturbing parts of the story were actually the subtleties that Cutter used, and the seamless and gradual devolution and ultimate breakdown of each of the characters as the epidemic progressed.

So, from a horror junkies perspective, I have to say that I was impressed by Cutter's debut novel. It's been awhile since I read a horror that evoked a truly visceral reaction, weirded me out, and yet kept me utterly enthralled. My only complaint was that it was a bit slow. With everything that I just said above you'd think it was an epic page-turner that was over much too fast. Unfortunately it wasn't. It was timidly paced, but written well enough, and with enough induction of anticipation, that you never think to give up. 

I would definitely recommend it for true horror fans who like both the revolting horror and the disturbing psychology of macabre thrillers.

The Troop

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