Scouts vs Worms (The Troop by Nick Cutter)
Do you like body-horror? Honestly, I don’t. But book “The Troop” came out with strange reviews: from “Disaster!” to “Masterpiece!” And, as is often the case, the truth, my truth, is exactly in the middle – not as bad as they say, but also nothing special or groundbreaking or anything like that. I will try to answer the question “why”?
In a nutshell, the plot of the book is the next: on a secluded Canadian island, a group of scouts are fighting against worms. And, of course, against each other. And there’s not much point in going into any additional plot details.
Genre and Atmosphere
In case anyone doesn’t know, I should probably start with what a body-horror is. In simple terms, it’s a subgenre of horror where the main theme is changes in the human body. “Frankenstein,” for example, or “The Fly.” I don’t like this offshoot for one simple reason – very often, instead of building up the atmosphere, the authors use the easy way – they throw in more nastiness. And, unfortunately, “The Troop” is no exception. Yes, there is a creepy atmosphere in places, but here literally before “The Troop” I finished “Flies” by Max Kabir, and they seemed to me much more creepy. And probably from page 100 or so, the author just stupidly throws in more all sorts of descriptions of slime, worms and other nastiness. I can’t say I’m thrilled with that. Oh, and I don’t recommend reading the book while you eating.
Who is Nick Cutter?
Speaking of the author. Nick Cutter is the author of horror novels (already four was published). Patrick Lestewka – writes thrillers. There are five of them. And Craig Davidson writes short stories and dramas, for which he sometimes even wins literary prizes. And before you ask me what I’m talking about and who all these people are, I’ll tell you: all three are one person. In fact, it’s Craig Davidson, who, clearly inspired by King’s “The Dark Half”, writes under different pseudonyms in different genres. And that is perhaps the most entertaining fact in this review.
The characters are nothing new, everything is predictable, everyone behaves stupidly. Of course, Cutter-Davidson has made sure to generate children as the main characters, and their lack of logic is at least forgivable. But kids are characters you’ve seen 100500 times in books or movies like this. This is the dream team: a brainless big guy, a hidden leader, a sadist, “nothing interesting” guy and a genius fatso. With a cast like that, it’s probably not hard to predict the outcome after the first description of each of the characters. Personally, I only misjudged the number of survivors by 1 person, but I guessed exactly the order in which the characters were cut out.
The structure and book problems
The book is easy to read, though. Here we have not so lengthy chapters, the number of which in the three parts of the book is strictly the same, not a bad syllable and a lot of interludes with flashbacks. By the way, the inserts from the “case” after each chapter, although it adds dynamism to the reading, but often were not quite on point. Understandably, Cutter-Lestewka wanted to get the backstory right, but it got a little lost and broke the atmosphere. Then, in fact, the retelling of the references went out of place, without any structure. That is not to say that directly confused, but deprived the work of some integrity.
The biggest problem with the book is the fact that it is nothing more than a novella, unwrapped into a novel, thanks to the structure and the huge amount of unnecessary details that do not really affect the plot. It’s like a fireside story. A long long story. For about 10 hours.
Can’t tell that there is some great ideas. Yeah, at the end it says there’s too much violence in the world. Okay, no one denies But I wouldn’t say that one line is too much of an idea load for a whole novel. And you can draw that conclusion from absolutely any horror book.
I got what I expected. I didn’t count on a mega cool horror novel, and, honestly, I did not get one. Standard characters, standard story with standard twists and turns. It’s easy to read, atmospheric episodes are in place, sometimes it is creepy. Personally, I would put it in the category of “read and forget”. Although again, this is my personal perception. I am sure many people will like it much more than me.