DNF Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

Monday, July 15, 2013
Title: The Troop
Author: Nick Cutter
Genre: horror
Series: N/A
Pages: 370 (ARC edition)
Published: expected January 7 2014
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: DNF

Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.

Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.

“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.

This book is not for me. I had inklings that it wasn't going to work early on - the narrative starts very slowly, andthe characters are uniformly either awful or bland. I'm not a huge horror reader - especially outside of the YA genre for it. Adult horror is often not for me, and The Troop is a perfect example of why. The comparisons to The Lord of the Flies have merit, as I was beginning to really see with the five boys..... before The Troop went too far off the rails for me to follow.

For the first ninety pages, I was just plain bored.. and then in the middle of "The Infestation" (aka around page 160-170) I was really, really grossed out. It turns out that this was just not the type of book for me. I can handle some varieties of horror fine. Gorey zombie novels? Sure. Hand them over. Creepy psychological stories with stalking and murder and general unpleasantness? Give them to me. But just plain gross-out medical experiments consisting of <SPOILER> awful, extended animal testing </SPOILER> are not something I can read and keep going.

Once the recorded animal testing segment was introduced, I was out of there. The scene is very graphic, and extremely disturbing. The scenes on the island had been becoming more and more out of hand as the situation devolves and the contagion spreads, but were far from the level of depravity shown in the mixed media with Dr. Edgerton and Dr. Erikson. This is totally a personal issue; I think more seasoned horror readers will feel squeamish but will be able to continue reading. However, I can't.

The author seems to be trying to show how far humanity will go for science, or to capitalize on a dangerous, unethical scheme. I'm not sure how well he carries either theme off (or even if those emerge as core themes), because 46% was as far in as I could make myself read. I'll just get someone made of sterner stuff to fill me in on the details later. Much, much later.


  1. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW! That'd make it a DNF for me too. :(

  2. Bummer to hear about this, it's one I've been looking forward to (though I'm a bit more forgiving with adult horror). I'm even more curious because I want to know who the real writer is - the author is a pseudonym!


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