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The Troop

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2014)
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 bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected…or one another.

Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written, edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.

355 pages, Paperback

First published February 25, 2014

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About the author

Nick Cutter

12 books5,609 followers
Hello Everybody!

I've been asked to set this up by The Powers That Be, and I'm more than happy to, although I can't really say much about myself seeing as 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!

If you have any questions or want to know more, please shoot me a question. I'm pretty good about responding.

Nick Cutter
(but not really)

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5 stars
20,026 (28%)
4 stars
27,709 (39%)
3 stars
15,904 (22%)
2 stars
4,849 (6%)
1 star
1,830 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,636 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,612 reviews10.7k followers
July 18, 2023
The Troop was my first experience with the work of Nick Cutter and I was so impressed.

Oh baby, was this one good!!

Cutter can write some splendid Horror and this book easily placed him towards the top of my favorite authors list.

Well played, Mr. Cutter! Well played.

Every page was a splendid discovery, evoking feelings of nostalgia for the Horror of my youth.

The Troop follows a group of boys who are taken on a weekend camping trip by their Scoutmaster, Tim Riggs, to an island off the coast of Eastern Canada.

When a very ill stranger stumbles into their cabin, a horror is unleashed that is beyond anything the troop could have prepared for.

Just a wee bit of advice, I wouldn't recommend eating anything just prior to picking this up. Things get nasty!

The characters were very well done. Their relationships and inner thoughts so well expressed, that in spite of being a horror novel, this can be appreciated as a true character piece.

In a way, it reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies.

With this comparison I am thinking of how each character is sort of placed into a stereotypical societal role and then we see how those roles play off one another once the adult supervision is removed.

Among the group of boys we have the tough guy, alpha male; the nerdy, know-it-all; the golden boy, who excels at sports and gets along with everyone; a wiry, cagey little guy with an absentee father and a bad temper; and finally the sociopath, whose inner thoughts are a horror story unto themselves!

I was so impressed with Cutter's writing style and his ability to simultaneously gross me out and chill me to the core.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the incorporation of mixed media sources; I believe I read in the Author's Note that he was inspired by Stephen King's, Carrie, which is very cool.

I am so happy to have found another Horror writer who I can enjoy for many years to come!

I'm very much looking forward to reading more of Cutter's work.

Profile Image for Stephen King.
Author 2,529 books828k followers
April 9, 2014
The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 23, 2018
best premise for a book ever.

i know people have been a little coy with details in their reviews for this, but i'm not going to be, because i think that its strongest selling point is what people have been all shy about mentioning.

so - imma just say it: tapeworms. genetically-modified, kick-your-ass motherfucking tapeworms.

the setting is falstaff island, which is a tiny uninhabited island off the coast of ANOTHER tiny but inhabited island, prince edward island, in beautiful eastern canada. a scoutmaster has taken five boys out on a wilderness survival weekend, blissfully free of pesky technology like cell phones, and everyone is going to be roasting marshmallows and earning merit badges and responsibly putting out their campfires and everything is going to be just peachy.

until a man crashes a boat on the shore and staggers onto their island looking… unwell.

turns out, science has been hard at work meddling with tapeworms for two very different clients, things have gotten out of hand, and their new island-visitor is infested with something determined to find new hosts.now it is going to be a true test of survival, as the boys and the scoutmaster have to contend with something unprecedented and way virulent. is there a badge for this situation??

maybe like that, only evil!

the best thing about these "oh, no science has run amok" narratives is how frequently these scientists fail to consider the imperatives of nature. nature is a methodical and tenacious bitch, and if you're gonna go monkeying around with genetics and getting all dr frankensteiny in your free time, you should know that nature's just gonna one-up you.

this is a very graphic book - resplendent gore all the way. it will make you squirm. there are unpleasant things that happen to animals (this is science after all) and also to people. if you are squeamish, trust me, it's not for you. i am not the squeamish type, but there was a scene with a turtle which i will never ever forget.

and, honestly, the whole time i was reading this, i was so profoundly hungry. i was devouring everything in sight. i was reading this on my bed, hoovering pb-and-honey sandwiches, dripping honey all over my bedspread, thinking "dude, i had better have a tapeworm, or this book is going to make me gain twenty pounds."

it's so much fun, and so, so horrifying.


this is where i zip my review-lips and let you make your own decisions. i freaking loved it, and i think by now, you know if you and this book are meant to be.



pre-read "review":

i think it is so cute that this is "a pseudonym for an acclaimed author of novels and short stories," and then he went and put his real name next to the copyright information.

okay, that's just good-natured ribbing. i read a book by this mystery man before and loved it, so this is just all loving-snark.

but seriously

come to my blog!
November 6, 2015
Actual rating: 2.5. If there's one thing I've learned from this year's crop of books, it's that you should be aware of what you put in your body.

In Japan, they have a specific type of manga and anime called "shounen manga," meaning "young men's manga." The category is specifically targeted towards adolescent males, around 13+ years of age. it generally contains little to no romance, few significant female characters, and is exemplified by constant action, humor, guts and glory, and focuses on the (purely platonic) camaraderie and relationship between the male characters within.

That's the best category into which I can fit this book. The characters are very juvenile, very clichéd. Their behavior and personality were extremely predictable, and I had no trouble guessing what would happen to each. There was little in this book that surprised me at all, there were no unforeseeable twists. Everyone falls solidly into their cookie cutter mold. I can definitely see where the Lord of the Flies comparison comes into play.

I am not saying that GIRLS SHOULDN'T READ BOYS' BOOKS, no, I am not a traditionalist like that. However, in the sense that you probably wouldn't catch a guy reading chick lit-type of books written by Danielle Steele or Kristin Hannah, I would venture to say that this book would probably appeal more to a younger male audience. There is cursing, a lot of "fucks" flying around all over the place, there is adolescent swearing and toilet humor, but honestly, it's nothing younger kids have heard these days; if I had a little brother, he'd enjoy this book considerably more than I did.

This book didn't really do much for me at all. There was a lot of very graphic scenes that were specifically designed to be gory and bloody and appealing to a certain type of audience. I was not disgusted, I was not rendered squeamish; there's a lot of (literal) blood and guts, but it didn't horrify me in a visceral sense. It was just...matter of fact. I was warned that this book would make me want to lose my lunch: that was not true. I do a lot of reading while I eat, and let me assure you that during and after the reading of this book, the contents of my stomach remain solidly (or rather, liquidly, in the literal sense) in its proper place.

I am not a froofy girly girl: I absolutely love blood and gore in books, movies, games. In fact, what bumped this book to the very top of my reading list was the promise of a deliciously revolting book. It just didn't deliver on that sense for me. I was never scared, I was never thrilled, I was never horrified. I was never particularly creeped out by anything within this book. I was drawn to it initially because it was a book that claimed to have scared Stephen King. I loved Stephen King when I was younger; IT rendered me sleepless for two weeks after reading the book, so this endorsement was a promising one. I had hoped this book would deliver the frights. It didn't.

I have a feeling I might have enjoyed this book a leeeeeetle bit more had I not read Mira Grant's Parasite beforehand. There were so many parallels between the two books. The premise, even the style, to some extent. Much like in Parasite, in front of some of the chapters, we are given bits and clues as to what is going on. News articles, interviews, bits of confiscated evidence in the forms of letters, diary entries, court transcripts, etc, from both the past and the future.

I just felt that overall, Mira Grant does a better job of building us up and giving us a more realistic picture of what was happening behind the scenes, leading up to this point. The premise was also far more believe and well-executed than in this book. I also didn't really find these pre-chapter interjections particularly intriguing: they were rather juvenile, and some parts of it like the "interviews" were particularly awkward. Their structure, presentation, and speech patterns were lacking in flow, so that I didn't feel like they could actually have happened. The only thing this book does better is the descriptions; they may not be sufficient for me, but they are quite graphic, and I'm sure other readers with less of a steel-clad stomach as mine would enjoy them---or not, as the case may be.

I didn't have a problem with how the story flowed. The plot progressed along in a good manner, and I was never confused. It did drag on in place, especially in the beginning, when we were being introduced to the boys and their squabbles and I just found myself wondering "IS THERE A POINT TO ALL THIS?" The writing is good...but it leans towards purple-prosy in some points, and I had a lot of problem with the overwrought and overextended use of really strange metaphors. They were seriously all over the book, and they were so weird. From moons like bone fishhooks, to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone, to dewy fields spread with dead crickets, to warm dough studded with busted lightbulbs...I was left shaking my head. The writing in this book would have been fine if it didn't sound like it was trying too hard. It's supposed to be a horror book, leave the strange attempts at poetic writing out of it.

The plot: um, this book would have been over a whole lot sooner (like at the very beginning) if not for some extremely stupid decisions made at by the sole adult and Scoutmaster, Dr. Tim Riggs. Honestly, for a doctor, he's a real fucking moron. The rest of the plot hinged upon his idiotic decisions, and so it was pretty much ruined for me from the beginning because of my sense of disbelief. I will not reveal what the idiocy entails, even if it takes place at the beginning of the book, but along the scale of idiocy, it's roughly the equivalent of a book's Big Reveal hinging upon something that you could have solved with a 5-second Google search.

The other characters within the book, the boys, were so utterly banal and clichéd. We have 5 characters, who are essentially tropes.

Kent: the alpha male. A bulky, idiotic, simple-minded gorilla of a brute.

Ephraim & Max: the polar opposite and highly unlikely pair of best friends. Ephraim is the perpetually angry, short-tempered son of a jailbird, he's stupid, barely literate, and explodes at the drop of a hat. Max, the gentle, introspective, calm and even-tempered guy to whom everyone turns.

Shelley: the creepy guy who blends in like a shadow, whom nobody expects to do much, the devious, manipulative little asshole that nobody ever notices.

Newton: the nerd. The overweight, perpetually bullied, overly sensitive, very intelligent, "nurturing," gentle boy.

Spare me. The majority of the book comprises of them squabbling and fighting and generally being little shits to one another. It got to the point where I felt like their character were caricatures of pre-adolescent boys, because the stereotypes were so bad and their behaviors were so exaggerated. Were it not for the fact that I know the author is male, I would have guessed that this is a female author's overextended and melodramatic view of how teenaged boys behave. The characters did not feel real to me at all.

Recommended for a younger male audience with ample suspension of disbelief.

This book was given to me for review by Netgalley.
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,412 followers
November 8, 2014
The Troop was this year's big horror debut - the vast majority of my friends here have given it rave, recommending reviews, and it has received a push from Stephen King himself who called it "old-school horror at its best", and "a perfect gift for a winter night". While I can see definite throwbacks to classic popular horror, I'm genuinely puzzled at all the praise and good reviews that this book has received.

Perhaps I was simply expecting too much, as The Troop doesn't bring anything even remotely new to the horror table. The plot is very basic: a group of young scouts and their scoutmaster are camping on an isolated Canadian island somewhere near Prince Edward Island, when they're surprised by an unexpected stranger. The man is pale and ill-looking, thin, and very, very hungry - he's infected with flesh-eating tapeworm, which also happens very contagious. Can you guess what will happen?

The horror which ensues in The Troop is very pulpy, and relies entirely on gore and shock value. You'll find no unsettling atmosphere and feeling of dread in this book, only one gross incident happening after another. And the worst thing of all is that it's never scary - just disgusting. Even elements which were included to shock the reader are common tropes in popular horror, such as cruelty towards insects and the abuse of small animals.

As horror fiction, The Troop is completely generic. Although the setting is specified to be somewhere near P.E.I., there's nothing to indicate it - it's completely generous wilderness that could be located in any part of the world with a similar climate. All characters are very cliched and stereotypical: the bulky and brutal jock, the manipulative creep, the overweight and docile nerd. Although the author includes back stories of the boys between chapters, they ultimately remain what they are, stereotypes - there's no surprise to their behavior and fate, and each of them acts exactly as expected, without deviation from the norm. This is the largest flaw of this book - the absolute lack of surprises. Everything progressed exactly as I expected, and in the end the book could have easily been titled The Trope.

Comparisons to Stephen King are obvious - the author mentions being inspired by King's own debut,Carrie while writing The Troop. I'm surprised that he didn't mention King's later novel, Dreamcatcher, which could be considered a much stronger source of inspiration. Dreamcatcher features the exact same plot crux as used in The Troop, with just slight changes - King's protagonists are all adults, and the book is set in the woods of northern Maine instead of a Canadian island - with the same stylistic devices: extended backstories and flashback sequences for the characters, inclusion of news articles/interviews/reports as to give the book a degree of realism.

Even though Dreamcatcher has received mixed reviews at best and continues to polarize the audience, I'd argue that it's a much better book - although both novels use similar devices and plot basis, Dreamcatcher contains a twist that's unique to itself and which elevates it slightly above the standard horror novel. The Troop contains no such twists and experiments, and ultimately ends up to be a disappointing reading experience - especially on a winter night.
Profile Image for LTJ.
125 reviews72 followers
January 22, 2022
After reading “The Troop” by Nick Cutter, I can honestly tell you it was a brilliant horror novel that ended up being a genuine page-turner. From the creepy descriptions to some insanely gross situations, I legit made all sorts of freaked out faces while reading as I could not put this book down.

Cutter has an amazing writing style that you can relate with thanks to all the unique characters, what makes them stand out, and have everything be instantly relatable. The thing that truly freaked me out was how detailed the various encounters were as you read. Besides the main story that is taking place, you’ll find everything from lab research reports, trials, and other unique aspects of an insane backstory that was a very smart way to deliver what is truly going on.

I’ve read a ton of horror novels in my life but this one takes the cake for being scary, disgusting, and well, one frightening read from start to finish. The way it was built up literally came out of nowhere as things unraveled to the point where it started to actually be believable because of how realistic things ended up being. That’s very hard to do in a horror novel and added a nice dimension of reality to keep things even scarier.

I give “The Troop” by Nick Cutter a 5/5 because it’s absolutely fantastic. It takes a lot for a book to freak me the hell out on top of grossing me out and this one does it ten-fold. The ending left me satisfied as it’s definitely one rollercoaster of a ride with many emotions throughout. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror but a bit of advice before I let you go. Please don’t read this while eating or even drinking, you’ll thank me later!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,304 reviews27.9k followers
April 26, 2020
This was so fucking disturbing. Body horror really scares me and this book literally made me cringe in disgust so many times. It’s probably the best horror book I’ve read so far in this genre, I loved it so much. This is EXACTLY the kind of shit that scares me.

Trigger warning: graphic animal abuse

Here’s the reading vlog where I read this book: https://youtu.be/J2LyhHZvGo4
Profile Image for Joey R..
268 reviews391 followers
June 17, 2023
5.0 stars — “The Troop” was a book that I have had on my ‘want to read’ list for a while. I like to dabble in horror books, and I saw many ‘best horror books lists’ with this book on it. After reading it, I can tell you it definitely lives up to the hype. The afterword of the book makes reference to Stephen King’s “Carrie” as an inspiration for the style the book is written in. You can definitely see King’s inspiration in how the book is told in how the main storyline is interwoven around the investigation documents detailing the entire event from the law enforcement perspective. But, I also felt like the plot itself was an amalgamation of two other Stephen King books: “Stand By Me” and “Thinner” sprinkled with a dash of “Lord of the Flies.” Whatever, the inspiration was for the book, it was a great read. “The Troop” tells the story of a small Boy Scout troop on a camp out which has the misfortune of being on an isolated island that is put in a restricted military quarantine after a man escapes a research facility infected by an incurable parasite. After the scoutmaster makes contact with the infected individual, the book takes a turn to the interesting as the scouts have to decide how to handle this life or death situation without an adult’s input. The way the author developed each of the scouts and the scoutmaster as characters was brilliant and caused me to be much more invested in the book and the outcome for each of the scouts. I flew through the book on my recent cruise vacation which caused me to miss a buffet or two (which based on my cruise pictures was an absolute blessing).
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
June 3, 2015
In Danse Macabre, Stephen King wrote: "I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud."

This book is the embodiment of that quote. It didn't terrify me. It didn't horrify me. But it did gross me out and disgust me.

*Sigh* I have heard so much greatness about this book, and about this author, but this book just didn't do it for me. I wanted so much to love it, but I ended up just counting down the pages until it was over.

The format was clearly, and admittedly, influenced by Stephen King's Carrie, but it didn't work for me here. There were a few moments when I could see that Cutter was trying to build up a sense of dread with a little foreshadowing, but on the whole I think that all of the excerpts would have worked so much better as an epilogue. I would have been much more invested in this story had I NOT known what it was that the boys were up against. We find out so early in the story that it's almost like we're not meant to be frightened of an unknown danger. Is the communicability supposed to make up that much of the horror aspect? For me it didn't. It just simply wasn't enough of a threat.

Let's put this into perspective: Less than a week ago, I was reading The Stand.
Both stories contain a contagious, bio-engineered, very adaptable bug that goes awry, and once infected, the outcome is death.
Both stories contain a rather limited cast of main characters. Granted, The Stand has probably about double, but it's also twice as long. So, it's even enough.
Both stories contain some rather depraved psychopaths, and some military folks, and a pregnancy (of sorts)... And you know, I could go on.

So here's the thing. With The Stand, the communicability is near perfect. It's airborne, and a single encounter is deadly. Someone sneezes, and you happen to walk by, you're a goner. In The Troop, contact with some sort of bodily orifice is required - which means that it's already less communicable than a flu virus. It must physically touch and enter your body somehow... so if you're smart and prepared, you could potentially avoid being infected at all. A 14 year old boy did just that, and without much going for him in the way of "being prepared". And, presumably, "Typhoid Tom" came into contact with several people before making it to the island, and it seems that none of those people were infected... (Speaking of which. Umm, Typhoid Mary was called that because she actually carried typhoid. People know this, right? Typhoid is not synonymous with "contagion carrier".)

What makes the communicability scary though, is the fact that nature exists. It's not just a case of "I know that is deadly, so I won't touch it, and there's no more threat" - it's an organism that can jump species and infect EVERYTHING it touches, potentially. And then the breed and feed orgy begins.

Which is one of the places that this story breaks down for me. If this is as hardy and adaptable as it was described, once it's in the ocean (THE FUCKING OCEAN, WHICH COVERS LOTS OF THE PLANET WE ALL LIVE ON), I'm pretty sure that we're all dead. It can survive in water, obviously, and there's a whole lot of live things to infect in the water. All it has to do is be eaten, and coincidentally, fish eat worms! But, yeah, I'm sure that dumping whatever fun chemical stuff they used in the water did the trick. Because water just stays right where its put and doesn't ever go anywhere else, and also all the stuff that lives in water is very well behaved and will stay inside the quarantine zone.

I have to wonder what the goal of the release was. Did they know there was going to be a troop of boys there? It seemed that the island was pretty devoid of animals (except skunks?) so, it seems like a huge risk to take just to see what would predictably happen to some different kind of mammal. Maybe it would be different because it's outside of a lab!! *Rolls eyes*

You'd think, that after experimenting and cataloging the horrific ways that various infected animals can slowly die, they'd be pretty confident that it works. I got the point halfway through the first transcript of the experimentation deathporn. But to make sure that I got it 100 million bajillion percent, there had to be more and more and more of it, and each one had to be more disgusting and depraved than the last.

And then there was Shelley. Because one type of animal torture just isn't enough for a novel, we needed to have even more to prove that he was a creepy son of a bitch. I'd already got that from my awesome powers of reading comprehension when we were told that. But no, a good author SHOWS. So we were shown. Again and again and again.

But then, just to contrast, we had to have just ONE more animal die, this time at the hands of kids who were doing it for their survival, but then felt too bad to eat the poor thing after it FINALLY dies, so they bury it.

This book was like a catalog of animal suffering. Not a fucking fan. I can deal with a bit, when necessary, but this was just ridiculous amounts of animal torture porn, described in fucking detail.

Finally, the nail in the coffin for me: I didn't care about any of the characters. They were so stereotypically cast that it was hard to feel like they were real, fleshed out people, as opposed to a set of boys with strategically picked traits who will be in conflict with each other. Maybe that conflict was supposed to be the real horror... but it just felt fake to me. I couldn't care and kept thinking how ridiculous it all was.

You know, when I started this review, it was a 3 star book. But the more I type, the more I realize that I like the book less and less. *sigh* I had really hoped that it would be great. And then it wasn't.
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
July 17, 2020
I'd been fittingly salivating over this one for quite some time now. The huge endorsement by Stephen King on the cover has the same effect as a Pulitzer badge or Oprah recommendation. One must just read it, & SHUT UP. And was Le grand buffet horrifique worthwhile? Hell yeah! Did it live up to its "The (add some Noun here... i.e. Stand, Mist, Ruins, Exorcist, Omen, Babadook)" ... preferred title for a work of the horror persuasion? Very much.

It's sickening, sad, & especially because it all occurs to 14 year old kids on the very cusp of attaining adulthood, of establishing their personalities. The 5 kids, the Troopmaster, they are all very real and what happens to them is lacquered in incredible realism. It is the proximity to them, from their past traumas to their very adolescent aroma (the writer has a strong proclivity toward the sense of smell), that attains for the work an immediate standing-ovation worthy response from the reader. The blood will chill, the book will remain in your white-knuckled hands. THIS is what a visceral tale of survival horror means... the foundations are nicely set & the adventure is a spectacularly bloody one.

Profile Image for Char.
1,681 reviews1,554 followers
February 1, 2022

See that picture up there? Do you know what that is? It's a tapeworm. Which is a nasty, (sometimes not so) little, parasite that can infest pretty much any living thing.

That said, this was a story about a Boy Scout troop that visits an island to do their yearly Boy Scout stuff. But this will be the last trip together, ever. Can you guess why?

I had a blast with this book. It was a quick read and I loved the format in which it was told. The only issue that I had with it is that some of the characters are almost cutouts of a sort...you have the bully, the quiet kid, the fat kid, etc.. I did care for a few of the scouts and that's what made the story compelling for me. That and the reasons behind the tapeworms. Plus, there is also the writing-I liked the style a lot. I submit this quote:

"His fear was whetted to such a fine edge that he could actually feel it now: a disembodied ball of baby fingers inside his stomach, tickling him from the inside. That's what mortal terror felt like, he realized. Tiny fingers tickling you from the inside."

If you have a strong stomach and this story sounds like something that would interest you, I say give it a shot. Recommended for fans of creature features, coming of age stories and those horror fans that like a good gross out!
Profile Image for Zain.
1,457 reviews153 followers
March 4, 2023
Not The Deep.

I have to think about Lord of the Flies as I write this review. Not because the stories are identical, but I just can’t help thinking about it.

A bunch of boys abandoned on an island and are left to their own devices.

I won’t say the story is predictable because it isn’t, but you notice who is the author’s favorite character so you already know who’s going to be the “final girl.”

Since just about everybody on Good Reads has read this book, I won’t tell a synopsis of this story.

I’ll just say that the reading is fast. It moves right along.

Four fabulous stars. ✨✨✨✨
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,824 followers
April 12, 2017
**DISCLAIMER: So, to be honest, I worry that when I rate a horror novel at five stars, people will actually read them and think I'm a psycho. Please don't read this book unless you've read A LOT of horror and you know what you're doing. In the genre of horror, this book is ACES! Top tier.**

Okay. So. You read horror? You enjoy it? This book is on the top shelf. When you're in the horror VIP lounge and you want to order premium, top shelf horror, you order a Nick Cutter and if you want the most bang for your buck--a SERIOUS book hangover that will last you for the rest of your natural born life, you order the Troop.
This plot was handcrafted to be the most imaginative, blow-your-mind plot that starts off full speed and manages to go 120 mph in seconds. SECONDS! You think you know what's going on? You think you know the terror that Cutter can bring to the table? You don't know shit.
First of all, Cutter has a billion descriptive words in that head of his.
He can describe something to the point you SEE it in your mind. You know exactly what he was seeing in his mind's eye when he wrote it because he's showing you in full technicolor.
Secondly, Cutter reminds me of Stephen King in the way that he can make you fall in love with his characters through in depth, detailed backstory and character development. He's brilliant at it. But all of this character development creates risk for you the reader because you don't want what is happening to happen.
It's painful.
This book is painful. It gutted me several times over. (turtle! *crying*)
Also, Cutter crawled into the mind of a calculating, emotionally void, psychotic individual and poured the contents of this mind into the story. It is sheer and unadulterated terror at it's finest. This character horrified me.
Was this person scarier than the biological terror? Maybe. I'd have to say there were multiple layers of horror going on in this book--competing for my fear.
There were scenes that caused me to put my magnetic bookmark in place, close the book and bury it under my clothes--just to take a break.
I love the way the story played out in real time but there were chapters of information that happened in the past and also transcripts and such that happened after the events. Those informational portions have reveals and tells that assist you in your real time events--if that makes sense. It's a very, very effective way of telling a story without huge, awkward info dumps or major perspective jumps like in Jurassic Park. Very clever. Clever Nick Cutter.
And yes, I read it on a camping trip. Did this elevate the creep factor?? PROBABLY! But this story doesn't need any outside help-this is a fear bomb waiting to explode in your brain right now and you'll never look at the genre the same. This pretty much holds the gold standard five stars for me right now. It doesn't get any scarier than this. It just doesn't. I can close my eyes right now and relive scenes that are forever burned in my mind.
Am I selling this to you yet? Are you curious? Read it. Read it right now and tell me you don't agree.
Nick Cutter, you're a legend.

Profile Image for Matt.
936 reviews28.6k followers
October 8, 2021
“Nothing wants to die. Things cling to their lives against all hope, even when it’s hopeless. It’s like the end is always there, you can’t escape it, but things try so hard not to cross that finish line. So when they finally do, everything’s been stripped away. Their bodies and happiness and hope…”
- Nick Cutter, The Troop

Horror is not really my genre. If I want to be scared, it’s enough to turn on the news, get on the internet, look out the window, or check my bank balance. Nevertheless, as the weather starts to cool, the leaves turn, and Halloween approaches, I usually try a book or two or three, simply in the spirit of the season.

Having maintained this tradition for quite a few years now, I have actually managed to read a decent number of horror novels, mostly by the acknowledged master of the field, Stephen King. I doing so, I’ve come to an understanding of what works for me in this type of book, and what does not. I prefer realism to the supernatural, characters over plot, and the leadup more than the actual bloodletting. Atmosphere is also important, and I often find that location – more than any other aspect – allows me to dwell in that wary, looming dread that the best horror evokes.

With that said, Nick Cutter’s The Troop checks off the boxes on my list. It is a lean, mean, and graphically disgusting story of death and survival, pitting a small group of Boy Scouts against a ravenous evil that appears out of the darkness.

As with many spooky tales, it’s hard to give a summary without giving away too much. Suffice to say that instead of sharing ghost stories around the fire, the boys in The Troop become a part of one. It begins when a stranger stumbles into their camp. He is is thin and feral and really, really, really hungry.

Things go downhill from there.

It’s tough to recommend good horror because the definition of “good” shifts drastically depending on the reader. The things that give me chills might not be the same for you. Perhaps it’s best to broadly explain what I thought worked here.

To begin, I love the setting. As I mentioned above, where things are happening in a horror novel is just as important to me as what is happening. I like my locales spine-tingling and visceral. Cutter achieves that, using a deserted island off the Canadian province of Prince Edward as his stage. He makes the craggy island surrounded by the sea into an entirely separate character, one that is morally neutral but equally unforgiving as any other threat. As William Golding well knew, an island and a pack of boys is a good start to a novel.

(Sidenote: Nick Cutter is the author’s pseudonym. The book flap acknowledges the pseudonym, provides a picture I believe to be the author – based on ten seconds of Googling – and the copyright gives the guy’s real name. I’m not sure why this thin veil exists, but it does).

I also appreciated Cutter’s characterizations. At first, only Scoutmaster Tim – doctor, Glenlivet lover, and font of bad ideas – was the only person given a sharp definition. The kids sort of merged together. As things progress, however, Cutter does a good job giving each boy his own personality. If he does not necessarily plumb their psychological depths, Cutter at least finds unique layers and allows some characters to take surprising turns. To that end, he utilizes internal monologues to put you in the characters’ shoes, giving you their thoughts and feelings, filtering your fear-response through theirs. Though not a deep study of humanity under duress, The Troop does enough for you to be invested in the outcome.

Finally, Cutter is an extremely talented writer. He writes with precision and specificity, so that you “see” what he is relating. His descriptions are extremely vivid, and at times, extremely graphic. Seriously, this is not for the fainthearted. For example, a brief description of the hungry man whose arrival catalyzes all that comes next:

A quivering string of drool spooled over his lip, hung, snapped. His skin was stretched thin as crepe paper over his skull. Capillaries wormed across his nose, over his cheeks, and down his neck like river routes on a topographical map…The skin was shrink-wrapped around the radius and ulna bones, giving his elbows the appearance of knots in a rope.

Structurally, Cutter employs an omniscient third-person viewpoint for the bulk of the narrative. Interspersed throughout the central storyline is a variety of post-island “documents,” including testimony from a governmental tribunal, psychological reports, and a magazine article that purports to cover the island aftermath. This epistolary conceit fills in certain gaps, gives you minor foreshadowing about what’s coming next, and generally creates a secondary mystery appurtenant to the island story.

This framework is familiar in horror, and called to mind Stephen King’s Carrie. Honestly, I’m not totally sold on this aspect. Certainly, it’s nice to have a breather from the relentless intensity on the island. It’s also a way for Cutter to more fully realize some of his characters.

Of course, the main purpose of these cutaways is to explain what’s happening, and they do. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Indeed, Cutter comes close to over-explaining, providing a pedantic conclusion, rather than a thrilling one. It’s not a deal-breaker, to be sure, but it would have been nice to have an organic resolution.

Part of The Troop’s success comes from Cutter’s simple realization that the interplay between the boys is as rich a drama as the external threat they all face. This dynamic has generated the obvious and inevitable comparisons to Lord of the Flies. But really, the book this most reminds me of is Scott Smith’s The Ruins. Both focus on trapped young people. Both know how to derive tension from a creeping menace. Both seem ridiculous when you attempt to explain the plot aloud. Both work extremely well because they are grounded in pungent details and solid portrayals of humans under ultimate distress.

Generally speaking, I am a realist, which is why I don’t read a ton of horror. It’s just hard for me to open myself to the possibilities of the supernatural. If I don’t believe it can happen in real life – as I understand it – it’s hard for me to get goosebumps over it. Usually, my enjoyment has an inverse relationship to the preposterousness of the proceedings.

Yet The Troop worked for me, even though it is quite preposterous. Partly, this is because Cutter executes so well. He has absolute confidence in his macabre tale. There is no hesitation here, no self-doubt. Cutter came up with a concept and went with it, right to the hilt. His belief in what he was doing made me a believer as well.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,987 followers
May 5, 2015
Creepy and gory - not to be read while you are eating. However, after reading this, you may hope to never be hungry ever again!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,951 followers
November 30, 2020
My peeps probably wonder why I even tried reading a book that was going to have graphic domestic & wildlife torture/abuse in it. I thought those parts would be a quick skim over which I did but it wasn’t your (this happened goodbye), it was graphic, so eff this book! 😃 I fell into the hype & wanted to read what the hell was going on.

Besides that, I was bored to tears almost. I was waiting to see what was going to be the outcome and I wasn’t too happy with that either. I liked two of the boys in the beginning but not much else. I wanted more with the creepy man too.

Anyhoo, we can’t win them all. And if you leave some bullshit comment, I’ll delete and block your ass. I’m already working on that, I just want to be my sweet loving self with my peeps on here and in the world. 😘

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,455 followers
April 17, 2015

First of all, when Stephen King goes out of his way to blurb a book, I pay attention. About The Troop he says:
"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."
I'm a sick puppy! Right away, I perk up like one of those Pointer dogs on the scent. Secondly, the book description refers to The Troop as Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins. Oh yeah! You just pressed two of my book buttons right there. I'm lighting up and going off all over the damn place.

So yeah, Stephen King is not lying or exaggerating. This book IS NOT for the faint-hearted. It's for the sick puppies -- it will make you squirm and gag and cringe and hold on for dear life. It will also creep you the fuck out and make your skin crawl off in self defense. Your skin may never speak to you again actually.

I usually run an image free zone in my reviews, but for this book, I'm hoping a picture speaks a thousand words.

Here are some of the faces this book made me make:

Get the picture? I'm a horror veteran, and let me tell you, this book scarred me. There are scenes I will NEVER forget. If they invented brain bleach tomorrow, it still couldn't erase the shock and ewww and WTF? from my mind.

Five stars for totally creeping me out and giving me a raging case of heebie jeebies. I could not put this book down and I will be recommending it to other sick puppies. Plus, I actually CARED about the characters. Newt!!! And perhaps

Nick Cutter is a great pseudonym for a horror writer. Let's hope we hear more from him in the future.

A free copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.

This review has been posted at Busty Book Bimbo where you can also find my Q&A with the author Nick Cutter.
Profile Image for Larry.
76 reviews8,738 followers
January 17, 2020
Excellent! Loved the horror aspect, lord of the flies feel, didn’t even mind the gore - couldn’t stop reading!
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,156 followers
September 29, 2016
This book REALLY creeped me out......and not just because it's gory though (it REALLY is) and not just because it had contagious icky-creepy-crawling things (it REALLY does), but for the simple fact that you can visualize the fear of it actually happening......at least partly.

It's October and Scoutmaster (Dr.) Tim and his five Eagle Scouts from Troop 52 have been dropped off in the Canadian wilderness at terror (my word) island for three days of fun and hiking. The boys are a mixed bag of tall & intimidating (Kent), calm & collected (Max), brave & strong (Ephraim), fat & nerdy (Newton...my favorite) and cruel & weird (Kelley).

All is going well with campfires and ghost stories until the stranger from hell appears.....delirious, obviously sick and obviously starving with the look of a walking skeleton. Of course, Dr. Tim tries to help him which leads to disaster, the beginning of the end, and a terrifying fight for survival.

......readers beware, besides the descriptively disturbing visual effects of the parasite, our cruel & weird boy flashes back memories of his wickedness toward animals (which I admit skimming through)......Thankfully though, other scouts were actually kind to animals or felt remorse for what they felt they had to do, but there was a bit of tough going for us animal lovers......

Anyway, this super creepy, super disgusting, FREAKFEST of a sci-fi/horror read with a super ominous ending would be a perfect frightening October read....if you can take the tickling from inside and don't mind the deadly insatiable hunger. My advice.....stay away from Them and......Run!

Profile Image for Peter.
2,780 reviews500 followers
December 12, 2018
A trip to Fallstaff Island with their scoutmaster Tim turns into a nightmare for 5 boys. Absolutely shocking tale Great style with blending in interviews with officials and scientific statements. The print advertising for the cure to loose weight was brilliant too. I was absolutely absorbed by this fascinating story and its ending. The worst thing is a story like this can come true anytime. If you are looking for a really disturbing book with masterly crafted characters and personalities this should be your choice. Okay, some passages were extreme and definitely not for the faint hearted. The concept let me think about Golding's Lord of the Flies. Highly recommended pageturner!
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
528 reviews262 followers
September 29, 2020
Wow...what a twisted, gory, disgusting tale this was! I'm not ever going close to a worm again, that's for sure! At some points it was so gory I thought I'd be sick! With all that being said, I felt this very much read similar to a Stephen King tale, and it was an excellent horror novel. Pure entertainment throughout, without any slow parts. Think Stand by Me, or It, with disgusting worms that take over a human host's bodies, creating an insatiable, sinister hunger. I enjoyed each of the troop members, and was even shocked by the violent actions and sociopathic tendencies by one of them (won't spoil who!). If I had to give any critique I just wish that there had been a little bit more depth to the plot, but outside of that this was one of the better horror novels I've read! This was my first Cutter read, but will definitely not be my last!
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
August 19, 2013
When a scoutmaster takes his troop of five boys to a remote island, he has no idea the horror that is about to befall them in the form of a mysterious starving stranger that can't stop eating and the parasitic worms ravaging his innards...

I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!

I initially dismissed this book because of the boring cover. It almost looks like a stock photo someone found for a DYI cover on Createspace. However, the Netgalley newsletter touted it as being pretty horrific so I gave it a shot. I'm very glad I did.

The Troop, as the publicity blurb says, is part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later. This is a very apt description. Tim, the Scoutmaster, takes his troop of five very different boys to Falstaff Island, fifteen miles off the coast of Prince Edward Island, setting of Anne of Green Gables. Anne of Green Gables has nothing to do with this, I just wanted to show off some trivia.

Anyway, a stranger in a boat shows up, starving yet ravenous, and pretty soon everything is circling the drain. The Scoutmaster gets infected by the worms, and then the infection spreads. Good thing they're on an island, huh?

The scouts are an interesting mix. Newton is the brain, Ephraim is a hothead who barely stays out of trouble and Max is his bestie. Kent is a jerk but possibly doesn't realize it and the leader of the boys. And Shelley is the oddball.

Once the scoutmaster died, it didn't take long for everyone to go Lord of the Flies on one another. I wasn't sure any of them would survive the worms or one another. Aside from getting infected by the worms, most of what they did was understandable given the lack of food and rescue.

The book could have easily been a three but Nick Cutter (aka Craig Davidson according to the copyright notice in the front) brought home the bacon. Cutter supplied horrific detail after horrific detail and also had a lot of nice character moments, like the incident with the sea turtle and Newton's and Max's feelings about it in the aftermath. Shelley turning out to be a sociopath really gave the horror that personal touch. Parasitic worms that devour you from the inside while making you ravenously hungry are scary enough but the sociopath in the midst made it even creepier.

Interspersing the narrative with post-game interviews and news clippings from the scientists responsible for creating the worms and the military personnel responsible for cleaning up the mess added a lot to the narrative and did some nice foreshadowing and misdirecting. Again, thank you, Mr. Cutter.

That's about all I have to say. Four creepy writhing wriggling stars!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ginger.
788 reviews373 followers
January 22, 2022
Gory, a bit shocking and very disturbing!

As a reader, if you’ve heard of The Troop, you’ll have an idea this book is not for the faint of heart or squeamish.

In fact, if you’ve been meaning to lose a few pounds and can’t seem to quit eating, go ahead and pick up this twister of a book. You might have some success finally losing those last 10 pounds! 🤣😂

The Troop is in your face with descriptive scenes of gross and survival of a group of scouts that take a camping trip to an isolated island off the coast of Prince Edward Island which is in Canada.
While the boys and their scoutmaster are setting up for the weekend, something comes aboard on a boat that will dramatically change the lives of one man and 5 teenagers.

Is this horror? I thought so.

The main theme in this book is something that creeps me the fuck out. It would be a nightmare for me, and I might mentally snap like one of the teenagers.

I liked the news articles and interviews after some of the chapters. It's a nice touch of immersing the reader into the story and making it feel more realistic.

If you are looking for a happy ending, this book will not give it to you. It’s about horror, survival and how dysfunctional we are as humans.

Definitely recommend this one to horror and splatterpunk fans!
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
283 reviews80 followers
November 1, 2021

"They'd made a pact to be friends forever, but forever could be so brief."

First Thoughts

As a huge Stephen King fan, when the man himself stated that The Troop by Nick Cutter scared the hell out of him that's usually enough to peak my interest. I'd heard a lot of talk about this one before I picked it up. Mostly about how brutal and bloody disgusting. But what I quickly found is that this a horror that is well written and developed and certainly not just cheap thrills.

The most obvious comparison for The Troop is without question the Lord of the Flies with the plot revolving around a group of boys stranded on a remote island whose survival instinct is tested to the limit when cut off from society. But it also demonstrates strong similarities with the original Alien movie when a parasitic organism wreaks havoc on an isolated crew.

Cutter spends the first portion of the novel doing what good authors do. Setting the scene, developing those characters and delivering some well timed foreshadowing of what's in store in the back half. All this groundwork certainly lulls you into a false sense of security for the bloody mayhem that ensues. Certainly not for the squeamish.

The Story

The story begins with scoutmaster Dr. Tim Riggs arriving on Falstaff Island for an adventure weekend with the scouts of Troop 52. Looking forward to camping, hiking and earning those badges what's actually in-store for this unlucky group is a harrowing experience that leads to a good dose of body horror.

When an emaciated stranger with an insatiable appetite arrives on the island begging for food, events take a dramatic turn for the worst. The guy looks near death and is obviously sick but he brings with him an unseen, wriggly gift for our intrepid group. And we all know we should beware of strangers who come bearing gifts.

Quick cut off from the mainland, the troop face a battle for survival that pushes each of them to their absolute limits. This is a horror that's far worse than anything dreamt up in one of those campfire stories.

The writing

You know I always like to discuss the writing. I'm a big fan fan of Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons and Peter Straub and am always on the look out for horror authors that can actually write. A certain quality is important to me and Cutter definitely delivers. His style is very concise but has a natural feel where I actually forgot I was reading as I was sucked in.

"Things cling to their lives against all hope, even when it's hopeless. It's like the end is always there,you can't escape it, but things try so, so hard not to cross that finish line. So when they finally do, everything's been stripped away. Their bodies and happiness and hope. Things just don't know when to die. I wish they did."

He uses a structure in this that is very reminiscent of Carrie by Stephen King using newspaper articles and court room reports to flesh out the novel. In fact he credits King in the acknowledgements for inspiring this style. It certainly adds some excellent foreshadowing to the proceedings and I really enjoyed it.

The Horror

I've heard the term body horror before and always thought it too narrow a definition to be used appropriately. However, if anything is body horror this is it. There's some stomach scenes in this one that will test a reader's limit for the depraved and the vile. You have been warned!

The Characters

If you're like me, then it's characters that make a story tick. The troop features a band of stereotypical boys in Kent, Newton, Max, Ephraim and Shelly. We've got the nerd, jock, loner and crazy dare devil. But while this could prove uninspiring, Cutter does a fantastic job adding those human elements that make this group work.

"I'm just saying that sometimes the more you care for something, the more damage you do. Not on purpose right? You end up hurting the things you love just because you're trying so hard."

During their time on the Island the group dynamics face some drastic alteration and the boys are forced into dire altercations. The author uses this to really flesh out his characters and add some much needed depth. There's some satisfying character arcs in this one and you begin to truly care for them...well most of them anyway. It's a key rule in horror that you've got to care about the characters for the resulting horror to have any real impact and Cutter definitely achieves this.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I really loved this book. It's unfortunate that I had just finished Necroscope by Brian Lumley and, comparing the two, its not quite as good as that one. Being so contained it lacks the epic scale of one of those blockbuster novels. But it is a very, very effective horror. My daughter Olivia is in the scouts and I certainly won't be sending her on any weekends away any time soon.

I'm certainly interested in reading more of Nick Cutter and it's interesting to note that he also writes under the pseudonyms of Patrick Lestewka and Craig Davidson. So well done Mr Cutter/Davidson/Lestewka. A very entertaining read and perfect for Halloween!

Nick Cutter
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,213 followers
June 3, 2022
4.0 Stars
This was such an entertaining survival horror novel. Cutter captured the horror of hungry so perfectly. The story was fast paced with a compelling plot that felt very reminiscent of Lord of the Flies. The writing was quite casual, yet very engaging with visceral stomach-churning details.This was a great example of grossout horror with intense, gruesome scenes.
Profile Image for ALet.
292 reviews240 followers
October 2, 2019
★½ /5

This was different, but not that scary. Mainly I read this book for a horror element because I heard from a lot of people that it is one of the most disturbing and scariest books they ever read. Sadly, for me, it didn’t meet the expectations. It clearly had huge horror elements, but there wasn’t enough contrast to properly feel the horror and really fast I personally become numb for all the terrible experiences which were described. In addition, the characters were not that interesting to actually carry out the story.
It wasn’t a terrible book, but simply the writing made it dull for me.
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