The Troop

December 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, )

troopThe Troop by Nick Cutter

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A year or so ago, I stumbled across a list of obscure horror novels I “Probably Hadn’t Read”. I was pleased to see that I had read most of them, but was also pleased to add a few other books to my list, including this one, written by the author of that list. (To be clear: He didn’t add his own book to the list. The overlap was enough for me to check out his own stuff.) I had high hopes going into it.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. It started off feeling juvenile and amateurish, both in its style and tone, as well as its content. The sentences are short and choppy, and it makes the story feel insubstantial. It winds up being all action, all plot, and while I can’t say it’s without theme, it does feel pointless.

The book is graphic enough to teeter on the border of splatterpunk, which doesn’t help matters. The central horror of the novel is body horror, and Cutter has an almost gleeful tone in how he portrays that horror. It’s effective in its own way, but it feels like it goes too far. It’s one thing to make the reader uncomfortable; it’s another to make things as gross, graphic, and cruel as possible. It makes it feel like a sadistic fifth grader wrote the book, wielding his own fears without subtlety or grace.

With that simile, I should point out that Cutter sure does love using them. They’re everywhere. At one point, I counted three on one page alone. He uses so many of them that he starts reaching for them, such as “… sweat squeezed from the skin of his brow … like salty BBs”, or “… withered like to halves of a cored-out squash forgotten for days on a countertop”, or “They washed [them] … carefully, the way you’d wash oil off a baby mallard.” They’re odd, jarring, and ever-present, so if you don’t like them, you’re out of luck, like a scoutmaster infected with a parasite.

It doesn’t help that Cutter populates the story with a bunch of kids, few of whom are sympathetic. Plus, they’re all stereotypes: the bullying jock; the fat nerd; the sociopath; the cool kid; and the angry one. It’s almost like The Breakfast Club meets The Thing, only without the subtlety or atmosphere of either.

This book is terrible. Its one saving grace is near the end, when Cutter finally makes two of the characters likable enough to care what happens to them. The writing style, the structure, the characters, and the plot, though? Those should have been tossed. I don’t even see the point of it.

Started: September 15, 2017
Finished: September 19, 2017

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