Dr. Tim Riggs and the boys of Troop 52 look forward to their annual camping trip with great anticipation. For Tim, it means a chance to get away from it all. For the boys, it means a weekend in the wild without their parents watching over them. But this year is different. A starving and sickly man arrives at the cabin begging for food. As a doctor, Tim feels it’s his duty to help; as troop leader, though, he knows he must protect the boys. He keeps them isolated at first, but soon realizes that the man is carrying a parasite that he himself has already been exposed to. Soon the boys are alone, forced to fend for themselves on an island cut off from the world with a terrifying infection spreading amongst them.
Nick Cutter (aka Craig Davidson) has created a tale that is truly the stuff of nightmares. The Troop is creepy as all get out – something one always hopes for with new horror – but it’s also incredibly gross. I think it’s safe to say that readers without a strong stomach may take issue with this one.
As I said, it is the stuff of nightmares. Five teenage boys and their troop leader camping on a remote and uninhabited island off the coast of Prince Edward Island with supplies for a three day trip as well as a radio for emergencies would seem to be fairly prepared for just about anything. Anything except a raging stranger riddled with parasites who then destroys said radio and infects the only other adult on the island. The first symptom of infection: unquenchable hunger. You can imagine what happens next.
In a move definitely inspired by Lord of the Flies the boys turn on their troop leader and then one another. Cutter/Davidson does an excellent job spinning a tale packed with gut-clenching tension and gory detail. The characters are compelling, especially once we REALLY get to know a few of them (that’s an added wrinkle to an already twisted story), and the use of interviews, articles, and testimony adds an extra layer to the story development that I thought was particularly engaging.
The Troop may not be the best book to take on a summer camping trip (or maybe it is if you’re a glutton for punishment) but it’s certainly one any hardy horror fan will not want to miss.
7/14 Becky Lejeune
THE TROOP by Nick Cutter. Gallery Books; First Edition edition (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-1476717715. 368p.