The Troop and Misery Spoilerish Thoughts

The Troop

I have several thoughts regarding Nick Cutter's novel The Troop. Unfortunately most of them are negative. It's the story of five Scouts and their scout master who are on a camping trip on a small uninhabited island when a man suffering from a gruesome infestation appears. The scout leader, who is a doctor when he isn't scouting, is torn between his responsibility to the teens and his perceived doctor responsibilities. (I'm not entirely sure that he remembers the “first do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath.)

The man who stumbles ashore is extraordinarily thin, but also extremely hungry and eating everything in sight. (At one point I think he eats the stuffing from a couch?) His belly looks like he is going to explode but the rest of him is barely even skin and bones.

Written in traditional horror film format, (people vanish or are changed or murdered one by one, until x number of people remain) The Troop has been compared to Lord of the Flies, but aside from both of them having boys on an island, I can't see it. Lord of the Flies is fairly subtle and is about the long-term degeneration of the boys as their veneer of civilization peels away. Conversely The Troop shows us people panicking and seeing what they can get away with when there is no supervision. It's quite graphic and explains every little thing as though we readers are expected to be dunderheads. One of the boys is a sociopath and his mental process is described in excruciating detail. Really anyone who reads horror or watches shows like Dexter has a basic understanding of what being a sociopath means. (Or at least the common pop culture definition, which or may not have any real grounding in psychology.) Anyway, my point is that the book bogs down in places because the author is over-explaining.

So I would call this novel okay. It's not terrible and it's not great. If you have some time to kill and you don't have any better prospects then go ahead and read it. Or if you just don't want to think at all and want the comfort of a tried and true story line, The Troop fits the bill. But be warned, it has a lot of cruelty to animals, told in much too vivid detail. It kind of made me sick.

And speaking of making people sick, the effect of the book reminded me of The Science Fiction Weight Loss Book, a collection of short stories that if I recall correctly (it was published in 82, which is when I read it) was designed to make you lose weight by grossing you out or scaring you.
I'm guessing if you read that, then The Troop, then follow it up with Jeff Goldblum's version of The Fly, you won't eat for at least a week.

You can read an excerpt here:

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Misery With Spoilers; Commenting on the Very End of the Novel

I just finished my reread of Misery by Stephen King. This is a novel that when I originally read it and came to the hobbling scene I flung the book across the room. It was just too much for me. Even when I decided I was going to go on reading, I kind of circled the book staring at it like I thought it was going to bite me.

This time around wasn't as bad because I knew what was coming. On the other hand I knew what was coming which made the whole thing sort of a cringing, panicky experience where I was just waiting for horrible, horrible things to happen.

At the almost end of the book when the two cops arrive and rescue Paul, (who has really already rescued himself ) the cops he calls David and Goliath, he warns them that Annie is locked in the other room and that she's extremely dangerous.

That's when they inform him that the room is empty. There's broken glass and the window is open or broken I can't remember which one. But there's no one in there. She is gone

At that moment I had a horrible idea. I thought oh man, what if none of it happened/ What if he did it all to himself, and there was no Annie Wilkes? That would make a book that is already extremely painful to read into possibly a book that would have to come with a helpline that you can call when you finish. A person with a very soothing voice would talk you down while someone came over and fixed you a nice cup of tea.

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Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is for sure not safe for work. It's a gent who is very puzzled by a peculiar doll. It's pretty funny.