Pretty much since I first got an E-Reader, Kobo has been trying to get me to read Nick Cutter. When my E-Reader broke and I switched to the audiobook platform Kobo offered, it continued to push Cutter on me. My love of survival stories, post apocalyptic narratives, and zombie tales is probably what made the algorithm think I’d like this book, but this was not my cup of tea. Do I want to listen to the gory butchering of a cat, or two boys trying to kill a turtle, or the visceral wasting away of a man, or the desperation of children forced to fend for themselves on an island? Do I really want to listen to that while I’m trying to eat dinner or on my daily commute, or in quiet moments at work? No. No I do not. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not the book for me.
The Troop is about a group of boy scouts on a sleep away trip to Falstaff Island, just off the coast of Prince Edward Island. Their educational trip is upset when a man comes ashore needing food. Their troop leader, the local doctor, takes him in, suspecting something more is wrong with him, and slowly but surely everything that can go wrong does. In between this narrative we get glimpses of the aftermath in the form of a trill, magazine articles about the episode, and psychological reports about the boys themselves. We know this is going to end badly from the first chapter.
I will say that the audiobook narrator, Cory Brill, is fantastic. He has this way of making his voice quiver and waiver at the right times in the narrative, to really get you to feel how gross this whole thing is. I can guarantee you will not think of worms in the same way after Cory Brill has described them to you.
I like the premise, and the first third of the book was really exciting and fun. Cutter lost me when he introduced the sociopath element to one of the boys, and when he would describe things the kid did to local animals. I skipped an entire chapter because I couldn’t handle the in-depth description of the butchering of a cat. I don’t think Cutter needed to add this element, as the fantastical element of the super worms is pretty fun to begin with, and just gory enough to be horrifying in the right ways. He dips too much into torture porn with a few of his chapters, and for the casual horror fan like myself, that’s a step too far. I’m the kind of person who can visualize a well-described story, whether I want to or not, and I really, really didn’t want to visualize a lot of the things Cutter put in my head. It ended up reading like two stories mushed into one: on one side, we have the strange science of these worms that are eating people alive, and on the other side, we have a boy scout troop stalked by one of their own, who just so happens to be a psycho killer waiting for the right conditions to pounce. It’s like Cutter got into the first story, then realized he didn’t have enough ways to torture the boys, and decided to introduce the pyschopath to amp up the tension.
I don’t think its a bad book. It’s very well written, the characters are fully realized and three dimensional, and overall it does everything a good horror book should do- but Cutter could stand to leave a bit more to the imagination.