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Book cover I started reading The Troop after reading some amazing reviews on how creepy and scary it is, how well it is written and so on. I agree this is a good book, but not without its faults. It felt like a rollercoaster, because at first I thought it's going to be a monster body horror, which I like, then it turned out it could be a contagion story, which I love, maybe even a world wide epidemic, which I always hope for, but yet it wasn't. I thought it resembled a cross between King's Dreamcatcher and Golding's Lord of the Flies.

The best part is Nick Cutter's writing. He is careful with his characters, goes deep into defining their motivations, their inner thoughts. I loved that he would have filtered their previous experiences through a horror lens, so even their histories are aligned to the mood of the book. I know it's a common writer tool and he's a bit obvious about it, but I personally enjoyed it. Then there is the story, which happens on an isolated island and involves children being horribly killed by a relentless organism. I'm a sucker for those. Overall, the book was great. It felt like a Stephen King novel and the author paid homage to the writer in the acknowledgements section.

However, there were some elements that annoyed the hell out of me. One of them was the use of interviews and official reports and news stories about what was going to happen. It spoiled so much of the plot! Then there was the character dynamic. Such wonderfully crafted people seemed to not do anything of what they were supposed to do and the idea is that in terrible circumstances, our mettle is truly tested and the real person surfaces, but in many cases what the characters did made no sense. Even if well written, the basic archetypes were kind of obvious, too. And finally the technical aspects of the plot looked good on paper, but do not stand up to scrutiny.

Some notes: the horror of Lord of the Flies comes from showing how horrible ordinary people, children, can be. They are not psychos, they are people. Cutter overused psychopaths in The Troop. The tension in King's novels is growing and growing and is almost never released until the very end. Cutter spoiled what was going to happen and even if he described horrible things, he kind of did it in a constant way that got tiresome after a while. Worst of all, these flaws in the book made it predictable.

Bottom line: the book proves great writing talent and knowledge of people's character, however the author feels too nice to push the boundaries to do something truly brilliant. Well, he is Canadian...


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