As an avid fan of Cutter’s classic horror style, I had read “Little Heaven” years ago, followed by “The Deep.” The only of his mainstream novels that I hadn’t explored was “The Troop.” Sadly, I felt it to be less compelling than his other texts and in need of an editor.
“The Troop” tells the story of a Scoutmaster and his group setting out on an expedition. The group adventures to a remote island, hoping to enact some of their survival skills to earn badges and improve their knowledge. Little do they know, Patient Zero is about to come aboard their brigade. Tom – the human on which scientists experimented — arrives and brings danger. The stranger, Tom, brings a bioweapon: a version of tapeworms that destroys the human body and anyone near with a heartbeat.
The novel is quite reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies,” but doesn’t go as into the literature genre as I’d like. Many concepts could be addressed here: mortality, grief, innocence. Cutter focuses almost solely on the gore and guts. While we all like quite a bit of this, it causes a detriment to the novel. The boys are faced with a situation that would make any child cower. Show us — make us feel. Cutter doesn’t exactly do this.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the graphic nature of the novel, but felt it lacked the humanity and depth of Cutter’s other two novels. This is probably the result of the publication years on Cutter’s texts. It is evident that Cutter has grown as an author throughout his writing. “Little Heaven” and “The Deep” explore horror as it relates to humanity and human nature in a more nuanced and intellectual way than the gorefest of “The Troop.”
If you are looking for a gory, mind-numbing tome, “The Troop” isn’t a bad choice at all. I just desired something closer to Cutter’s other novels. “The Troop” is also extremely long, but for no reason it seems. The novel doesn’t compel the reader to the next page as standard horror does. I felt the novel could have a quarter of the length shaved off and produce a better reading experience.
I give this novel a solid three stars. This novel is forgettable in the scheme of things and you’re better off picking up one of the other two Cutter books, unless you’ve already read them.(3 / 5)