Friday, February 7, 2014

The Troop

The Troop
Nick Cutter
Gallery Books
Simon and Schuster

New York, New York
February 25, 2014
ISBN: 978-1476717715
368 pages

Many scouting troops have camping traditions.  Taking five boys in their teens onto an island in the Canadian wilderness is an annual event for Tim Riggs who is the scoutmaster as well as the local doctor of this close-knit community.   He realizes the value of taking the boys away from their families for a weekend to an uninhabited nearby island with a cabin.  They can camp outside or use the cabin if it rains.    What could possibly go wrong in three days?

For Kent this trip is tolerated.  He is accustomed to being a leader among his peers being both popular and athletic.   At the other end of this small social hierarchy is Shelley who is strange along with his nerdy friend, Newt.   Ephraim and Max are likable and get along with almost everyone.  As expected the relationships between these five is teasing with sometimes a streak of meanness from Kent.  

Tim Riggs is accustomed to their pranks.   As a bachelor, his life is fairly dull and he looks forward to this time each year.

During their first night, a stranger lands on the island in a small boat.  He is pale and ravenous.   He acts as if he has never eaten.  With his extreme thinness, the voracious hunger pains seem to move under his skin.

Dr. Riggs immediately suspects that the man might have a tape worm.  He chooses to examine the stranger within the confines of the cabin as a precaution while having the boys camp outside.   He makes it very clear that the boys are not to reenter the cabin until he allows them back inside.

Reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies", The Troop explores the conflict of doing what is best for everyone and doing the best for yourself.   

For Kent, he sees himself as the leader of the group.  In school he is popular and athletic.  He is the top of the social hierarchy of this group.   At the bottom is Shelley who is just a strange duck.   He relies on Newt for friendship.   Newt is the nerd.   Somewhere in the middle are Max and Ephraim who are both easy-going and likable.  They attempt to be the peacemakers, somewhat mediating Kent's comments.

The characterization in The Troop is phenomenal.   As a reader, you can visualize each person throughout this page-turner.   Each event is well-described while maintaining a terrifying pace in the story.   Even the setting of the island is visually descriptive perfectly matched with the pacing of the story.

The Troop is one book that you will want to read in one-sitting.  You do not want to leave the story as you hope for the best for each character.   What is most horrifying in this thriller is the realism!   This is a story that could be a possible situation.

The author Nick Cutter is the pseudonym for Canadian author, Craig Davidson.  His other published books are Sarah Court, Rust and Bones, Fighter, and Cataract City as well as many short stories.
The Troop is a wonderful book to read on these cold winter nights inside a house which is not on an island in the Canadian wilderness.

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