Nick Cutter’s The Troop, takes a group of five Canadian scouts with their scoutmaster and places them on island, not far from Prince Edward Island. The scouts go around doing their scouting things (never being a scout I am not quite sure what that is) earning badges along the way.
Until a mysterious stranger appears on the island who is somewhat hungry. Things take a turn a for the worse. (Now you would be forgiven of thinking a zombie story but cutter eschews that trap rather well) During the course the story we see how this event impacts the group and pulls them apart and what do they do to survive the things the scout hand book doesn’t cover.
Cutter’s style is reminiscent of early Stephen King and he crafts the story well with his descriptions and building of the story. The trouble is it becomes run of the mill, a cross between Slither and Lord of the Flies the book struggles to take off and only really becomes interesting around page 330, the problem with this the book is only around 400 pages long.
Cutter presents the familiar characters any gang of teenage boys would amount to through the book with the Scout troop being a fairly obnoxious bunch :
Kent the Jock and the son of the police chief
Eef the alpha male
Max the nice guy
Newton the nerd
Shelly the weird one
Scoutmaster Tim who couldn’t run a bath let alone a scout troop.
A cast of supporting characters and out of all the characters the only interesting character is Admiral Stonewall who only turns up twice.
In the end Cutter doesn’t engage the reader to root for or like his characters. Which is shame as all the elements are there. It just falls flat.
The troop does ask some interesting questions. The few versus the many, how far would you go to survive, could a 14 year old be that twisted and even the morals of war. The questions are never answered and with the last part of the book being the best, I think the trick was last to make a fine horror novel in the vain of King, Koontz et-al