Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"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."
The Troop is a standalone horror novel by Nick Cutter.
Going into this, I went in blind as I didn't look at the synopsis. All I knew was that a lot of people both liked this book and were disturbed by it. So, with that in my mind as I delved into this book...I ended up being a bit disappointed.
I don't know if it was just me and my tolerance for body horror is higher than I think (thanks to Junji Ito), but I didn't mind myself overly uncomfortable. If anything, I was more pissed off because of certain content warnings (and someone who was a whole content warning themself).
I think this is the kind of book where usually if you don't end up liking it, that means that it is a good book because it was effective at eliciting the appropriate emotions out of you. You are supposed to feel grossed out because that is the point of the book. The problem here was that I felt more pissed off due to character actions than disgusted.
I want to give this 2-stars, but I will give it .5 more because it was well-written.
Let's get into the details.
I wasn't sure initially whether or not I liked the writing because the way some sections were written were a bit odd. There, for some reason, were capitalized bolded words, as you would at the beginning of a chapter, in the middle of one.
There was also a spelling mistake that I noticed, and it was a pretty noticeable one. Josef Mengele was mentioned, but his first name was spelled as Joseph instead.
This is mixed-media, as it contains news articles, reports and interview transcripts. For the most part, I don't think these sections were particularly interesting or helpful to read, as they only gave some context as to what happened post-story.
What this story does do well though, as it should, is imagery. Due to the nature of the story, there is a lot of gross imagery and body horror in this, and it made for some unsettling moments.
I thought that this was going to be darker than it ended up being, but that all depends on your individual tolerance levels.
I was able to pick up rather quickly what the story was going to be about, but in that meantime, all I was left with was 'boys being boys.' That is to say that a good amount of this book follows a group of 14-year-old boys acting rather immaturely which...wasn't great to have to read about.
Once the story did start to pick up in intensity, I still found myself to be disappointed, because the premise was far simpler than I was expecting it to be. In theory, the premise is interesting and can be terrifying to think about in reality, but in execution, it was just missing something for me. Or maybe it wasn't missing anything and it all came down to the character we were following, who weren't the greatest.
There was some content I found to be a bit much, but not because it was disturbing per se. There were situations with the teen boys that were not comfortable to read due to the content, and the fact that these are minors we are reading about in this situation.
As for the ending, well, I was left with a whole lot of questions. It just wasn't a satisfying end, and I wish the story wrapped up fully and gave me the answers I needed in regard to the future.
I liked one character...one. Now, granted, most of the characters are not supposed to be likable because they are teen boys with bad personalities, but I just can't deal with unlikeable characters. Did the author nail the characters though, yes? The only person I ended up liking was Newt.
Another issue with the characters though, and by extension, the story, was that there was no introduction. You are just dropped right into them camping out on the island, with no initial time to get to know them.
I can see why people would enjoy this book, or well, maybe enjoy isn't the best word to use considering the content. It is effective writing, but it wasn't necessarily for me.
You may want to figure out what you are getting yourself into if you are someone who is squeamish. There are also content warnings for animal torture and death which I also ended up skipping over those sections.