A group of boy scouts and their troop master set off for a camping trip on an uninhabited island just off the mainland. They plan on a weekend adventure spent earning merit badges and learning a few lessons on how to live off the land. However, when an emaciated stranger shows up on the island carrying a potential biological weapon in his system in the form of a tapeworm, the trip becomes a test of survival of the fittest.
It being October with a forecast of thunderstorms, I went searching for a scary book to read. "The Troop" popped up as a giveaway, but my impatience led me to NetGalley searching for instant gratification rather than waiting for the drawing (or, heaven forbid, the actual publication date). As I said, I wanted something that would potentially scare the pants off me. What I got was so much more than I expected.
Let’s begin with the blurb on the cover … (Okay, before we even get to the blurb, can I mention the actual cover? Absolutely GORGEOUS. I believe Mr. Cutter will see copies of this novel flying off the shelves for that photo alone.) Alright, back on track to the blurb – it calls "The Troop" "Lord of the Flies" meets "The Ruins". I haven’t read "The Ruins" (don’t worry, it’s on the TBR), so I kept calling it "Stand By Me" meets "Cabin Fever" meets "We Need to Talk About Kevin".
What could have been a simple coming-of-age story about a group of boys from different walks of life who have bonded over the years in the Scouts together quickly morphs into the grossest of gross horror novels with the introduction of the "worm". Please note, this book is not for those with weak constitutions. And by constitutions, I don’t just me you have a high tolerance for the ick factor. While it might be a good idea to keep a barfbag handy for many scenes in this book, the parts that describe the mental state of the troop are far more horrific and are the ones which will give you nightmares.
I don’t hand out 5-Star ratings often. To get a 5-Star from me, the book pretty much (i) has to consume my life, (ii) I have to run the gamut of emotions while reading it and (iii) there can be NOTHING I can nitpick (example: "XYZ was gooooood, but it would have been even better if it were 100 pages shorter"). I started "The Troop" assuming it would be a 3-Star read, max. Never did I imagine I would be peeling layer after disturbing layer of the onion off until the last page. The setting was eerie, the dialogue believable, the character development absolutely phenomenal and the pace was perfect. I could not tear myself away from this book (and according to my husband I had a look of absolute terror on my face for 90% of it). I have no choice but to grant it a 5-Star rating.