This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

02 April, 2014

REVIEW: THE TROOP



THE TROOP
BY
NICK CUTTER

ISBN: 978-1-47671-771-5
Pages: 368
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
Published: 25 February 2014

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)



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. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.


And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another.


   Comparisons with Stephen King, and especially Carrie are pretty much unavoidable with this novel. Not because you have to look at it from that angle, but because the author actually references Carrie in the acknowledgements. Even without that, you would be hard pressed to avoid thinking about King as you read this novel, it's certainly done in a style anyone who has read King will recognise.
   Since the link to King was so obvious while reading it, (the acknowledgements are in the back,)  I will credit Cutter for admitting it so openly. However, being open about your inspiration doesn't necessarily lead to your book feeling more original. And there is a problem in that this feels pretty stale even when taking the inspiration into account. There is little suspense here, the story deviates very little from what I expected it to be.

   I usually avoid comparing what I review to other works, but my hand has been forced here. Unfortunately this book doesn't come out very favourably when compared to King. The influence is very clear to see, and structurally this is not bad. But what King is really good at is making you feel for the characters, and I felt this novel failed to make me to that. 
   There is an emotional distance from the characters you are following that makes you not care very much about them, this greatly lessens the tension when they are in danger. We are told how the characters feel about what is happening, but it feels distant and clinical. I never felt close enough to them to feel the level of empathy needed to really get the emotional impact of the story.

   Several times as I read this book I found myself wondering if this was really a movie script. There are several things that you can see working on the silver screen but that doesn't quite work as a novel. This certainly has some good filmic qualities, the pacing is very good at times and Cutter writes action well. And when it comes to horrific descriptions they are very well written, I'll even go so far as to say they are the highlight of the novel.
   The novel's main letdown is how uneven it is. There are some great passages here, but they are drowned out by the rest of the book. The story is slow and meandering,  and it never quite manages to create enough tension for this kind of Horror.

   I never really got into this book. It was too familiar, without giving me enough of something new to enjoy. There are glimpses of something better here though, but that just suggests that the flaws here are unnecessary. I get the distinct impression that Cutter's attempt to homage Stephen King is what is letting this down, and I have not been discouraged from checking out further stories by this author.
    This is a novel for someone who wants the familiar in their Horror. There is little originality here, and if you are at all bothered by the feeling of having seen it before this isn't the novel for you. If you are not that bothered by the originality and appreciate a good Body-Horror description, there is things to enjoy here.

NOTE: I was given an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher/NetGalley.


And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717715#sthash.EGnVqUhJ.dpuf
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. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717715#sthash.EGnVqUhJ.dpuf
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. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717715#sthash.EGnVqUhJ.dpuf
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. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717715#sthash.EGnVqUhJ.dpuf
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. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717715#sthash.EGnVqUhJ.dpuf
9781476717715
9781476717715

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