Received a copy of The Troop By Nick Cutter through the First Reads Giveaway
The cover page of The Troop has a quote from Stephen King saying how the book scared the hell out of him. From my perspective The Shining is one of the scariest books I have ever read. Making the case for The Troop I would say that the scariest aspect of the book is that a human being actually had these sick, disturbing, and gruesome thoughts floating around his head and had the fortitude/cement stomach to put pen to paper. That a man has this ability to write with this detail and seemingly first-hand experience is scary and makes the utilization of a pseudonym apropos. Hiding behind a shroud of mystery, okay I get it, but I will be watching you...whoever you are. The story has scary elements, but for me this is pure gore at its core.
Children using tweasers to rip wings of insects, setting up a canibalistic stag beetle duel in a shoebox, the use of animals for science, burning rodents eyes out, and the real kicker the drowning of itty bitty kittens. Recipe for an incorrigible, sociopathic, sadistic psycho-killer. As you can tell from my account display image I am a devout animal lover. Cat's and dog's have been a fixture in my life since the day I was born. The reasoning of their inclusion in this novel is certainly not lost on me. It paints a clear picture of the disturbance found within the characters and aids in the development. The treatment of these excerpts for me were comparable to the proverbial "car crash". I will read until the "cat's out of the bag" (pun intended) and use my peripheral vision to skim through the parts associated with the torture of animals. For anyone who wants to read this book with the same sort of ideals, I suggest this technique, try not to let this hold you back from reading an otherwise good story. With respect to the reaching into of liquefied rib cages and faces oozing apart from the skull, that's like potatoes and gravy for me, but animal torture is a bit like durian fruit or canned luncheon meat. It really has a lot to do with the exposure level and my desensitization of violence against humans to that of animals. Lucky for me this was not a predominant feature of the book and did not influence my overall feelings towards it.
The author does a great job of putting you on Falstaff Island with the children as well as with the environmental conditions and variables. Being situated on an island makes it all the more isolating with a potential force-field effect to deal with where you have nothing to save you but the mental/physical resources you have to "play" with. He takes time to give each character his own identity and place in the group dynamics. To me the makeup of the Troop was a tad cliche and somewhat dated. First off the ever-scrutinized overweight nerdy child, the strong and strapping son of a cop, the short-fused imbecile child, the wise-beyond-his-years child, and the master manipulator aloof child. My foray into Boy Scouts lasted about six months and I will let you figure out that the types of characters found were not this dynamic. With this Troop the way they act makes it seem that this was an author that is remembering how he spent his childhood and is oblivious to the way children actually act today. If it weren't for the token references to the present technology, social media and other mentions it would been more apparent that this story was set decades ago not present day.
The fact that the story did not sway from the original premise and maintained interest from beginning to end was a tribute to the author's ability to engage the reader. You may not like the book, but you will remember it. I would recommend this story to adolescents that have not been exposed to many horror media and will find the premise refreshing rather than redundant.
"Do you know how hard it is to kill something? 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, 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."
***Confession*** I was a child that bit his nails and like John Deere I enjoyed playing in the dirt most of my early life. If you read this story then you know what followed for me was the worst, most curious week of my life. Kids please don't follow in my footsteps and thoroughly wash your hands after playing in the dirt.