Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.
This week’s featured title is The Troop by Nick Cutter:
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Gallery Books (February 25, 2014)
- ISBN-10: 1476717710
- Source: Publisher
Scoutmaster Tom Riggs leads his scouts on an annual trip to the Canadian wilderness. On this trip, he leads a group of five young men to Falstaff Island, PEI. The boys: Kent, Ephraim, Max, Shelly, and Newton, have known one another all their lives. The camp out is relatively short; a boat will pick them up the following day to take back to the mainland. Or so they think.
Their peaceful tranquility is severed when a strange man shows on the island. Emaciated, he appears to be quite ill. Riggs attempts to keep the strange man away from the boys, for his medical expertise tells him there is something very strong with the man. The man’s body is emaciated, he begs for food with an uncontrollable hunger raging within him. This hunger is endless and Riggs is stunned as he watches the man pick up anything he can getting his hands on and devouring it. The troop is completely unaware that the military is hunting this man, aware of the bio-engineered horror residing within his body.
Riggs and the boys assume help will come the next morning. They don’t know that the military has established a no-fly zone over the island, the small island quarantined from the mainland just minutes away. Their hope for help is futile, only they alone have control over their survival. Yet as the sickness spreads and the hierarchy within their group begins to collapse, they are faced with unimaginable terror, fighting for survival from not only the parasite that ravages the body of victims but also one another.
Using journal entries, magazine interviews, and military reports, Cutter provides readers with insight that the scouts themselves don’t have access to. The reader gets a unique glimpse about what is going on on the mainland, off the island, while they are fighting for their lives. A great deal of time is spent relaying information on the science experiment gone wrong, the source of this terror, all at the hands of a Dr. Clive Edgerton. Combined together, a novel that is so gruesome, yet so thrilling and addictive, those that have a strong stomach won’t be able to tear themselves away!
While the plot of the story alone had me sold on this book, the added dimension of the crumbling of the boys’ social structure and hierarchy added a completely unique element. The reader is an observer, watching the boys lives fall to pieces. A true story of a survival of the fittest, the conclusion left me completely stunned.
I most certainly won’t recommend this to the weak of stomach (and it would probably be best to avoid eating pasta of any sort while reading this), I would highly recommend it to fans of classic horror. Stephen King himself said “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it’s a perfect gift for a winter night.”
In my opinion, the plausibility of such a scenario is what makes this novel so terrifying. Science is scary, people! Nevermind the fact the first time I read this novel, about six months ago, my own fourteen year old was away on a camping trip with his Scout troop. I don’t think I slept a wink until he returned!
If you are looking for classic, terrifying horror, this is the novel for you. Highly recommended…with warning