THE TROOP Review, by The Horror Hypothesis.
“The universe can be a stone-cold asshole sometimes.” - Nick Cutter
Do you remember how old you were when you realized that adults, in general, don’t really know much about…anything? I was 7. My first grade teacher told me that negative numbers were not real. It was in this moment that it dawned on me that Mrs. Simpson, like so many adults, are full of shit.
George Carlin said something to the effect of, “think about how stupid an average person is. Now, realize that 50% of all people are dumber than that person.” Coming to this understanding, in my opinion, is a rite of passage in ones childhood. At its core, THE TROOP is about disillusionment - the terrifying realization that adults do not have the answers or solutions to our lives toughest situations and quite often, cause them. This knowledge creates a feeling of dread that eats at one from the inside out.
THE TROOP is also about highly contagious, genetically modified, parasitic tapeworms that eat humans from the inside out.
The setup is simple: while spending a weekend hiking and camping on a remote island in Canada, a group of five archetypal teens (the fat nerd, the confident athlete, the best friends, and the loner) and their scoutmaster unexpectedly encounter a hideously sick man who has been infected by viral, parasitic tapeworms. It doesn’t take long for the situation to descend into complete and utter chaos. If William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES, Scott Smith’s THE RUINS, and Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER had a child, and that child was disillusioned by the harsh realities of the human experience, the result would be THE TROOP.
This novel takes elements of survival, bug, and body horror and combines them into one insanely satisfying and gory package. There are long, very graphic sections of this book that made me squirm. There are also scenes of violence that are heartbreaking. There is one specific chapter dedicated to hunting that absolutely crushed me. Cutter makes every effort early and often to let the reader know that everyone is doomed. Like Thanos snapping half of existence into dust, their fate is inevitable.
My only issue with the novel is its structural homage to Stephen King’s CARRIE. Cutter breaks the narrative every few chapters to insert expository news articles, court transcripts, images, etc. While some of them do an effective job delivering important information while building the suspense, tension, and dread, I found that more than a few entries created jarring pacing breaks and included some ridiculously bad dialogue when compared to the believable banter between the scouts.
Speaking of the scouts, I mentioned that the main characters in this book are fairly traditional archetypes and while this is true, Cutter does a fantastic job humanizing them. THE TROOP’s fleshed out characters make all the difference when the characters start to lose their flesh.
I really, really enjoyed THE TROOP. It is the first book I’ve read by Nick Cutter (who also writes as Patrick Lestewka and Craig Davidson) and it certainly won’t be the last. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast paced descent into the unspoken madness that lurks around us all of the time, just waiting for a willing (or unwilling) host.
4 / 5 Stars
Major Themes Include: disillusionment, hopelessness, childhood/coming of age, friendship, hunger, and the ethics and morality of scientific progress.
The Horror Hypothesis - Night Worms Bio
Donnie Hypothesis is an avid reader, writer, and collector of horror fiction. He runs the Bookstagram page, “The Horror Hypothesis,” which advocates for the Horror literature genre as a whole. He currently lives in Central Virginia where he spends most of his free time reading, making music, playing video games, and watching movies.