The Troop

I apologize for the delay in posting. I’ve been doing a bit of beta reading. Side note- if anyone needs a beta reader, please contact me!

It is no secret that I love Stephen King. He’s just one of the greatest writers and I think doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he’s mostly known for being a horror writer. But he is so much more than that. He’s truly a master storyteller. So, when he recommends books, I make a note to read them at some point. For the 2017 book challenge, I had to read a book recommended by an author you love, so this was an easy category. I already had The Troop on my Kindle and just hadn’t gotten to it, yet. I have previously read another of Nick Cutter’s books, The Deep, and really enjoyed that one, so I was looking forward to another one.

Hoooo boy, this one was pretty intense. And gross. Like really gross, by my standards. I still liked it, but the grossness was a bit of a turn off. This is a personal preference, though. It says nothing about his writing or storytelling. The basic plot is that a troop of 14 year old Boy Scouts (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is…I forget exactly the specifics) and their Scoutmaster have gone camping on a deserted island just off Prince Edward Island when a sick guy in a boat comes along. The guy smashes their radio and the boat he came on no longer works. It’s clear the man is dying, and conveniently, the Scoutmaster is a doctor, but he can’t figure out what is wrong. As the story progresses, you get answers as to what the illness is, and unfortunately, how it spreads from person to person. Yep. It’s rough.

The boys (5 of them) have their own demons to face (one’s an asshole, one’s overweight, etc) which play into the dynamics of the situation. This book was reminiscent of The Long Walk (by SK under the Bachman name) where you wonder which one(s) will make it alive. It’s pretty clear from the onset that not everyone makes it home from the island. The story is also told after the event is over from the perspective of media reports, interviews, etc. These small bits are interspersed in the chapters.

But, like I said, you’ve been warned that this book is pretty gross in parts. I don’t want to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but if you are the least bit squeamish about the human body and illness, it might behoove you to avoid this one. I’ve read worse, yes, but I do want to just let you know.

Overall, I enjoyed Cutter’s other book, The Deep, more. That shouldn’t detract from this book though. It’s a great read. I truly couldn’t put it down, wondering who survives and just how horrific the story was going to get.

Lisey’s Story

It’s no lie that I love Stephen King. He is easily one of my favorite authors. I’m slowly working my way through books of his that I have never read, and one day, I will read everything he wrote in order. We are working on getting all his books in hardback, as well. I’m always excited to read one of his books, especially one that I know nothing about, like Lisey’s Story. I needed a book with a character’s name in the title, and I’ve had this book on my Kindle for awhile, so two birds, one stone.

Lisey was widowed two years ago and is still struggling. Her husband was prize-winning novelist with a vast number of secrets. I really don’t want to give too much away, because King masterfully reveals these secrets along the way, but let’s just say that there’s more to her husband that you would think. And although this book isn’t one of King’s true horror books, some unsettling things happen, but this one is pretty mild on the terror list. What it does provide is a wonderful example of woman empowerment. Lisey (real name is Lisa. Lisey rhymes with CeCe) has to solve a lot of problems in her life, from her sister’s destructive behavior to the man stalking her, demanding her late husband’s unpublished manuscripts.

The story is truly about the love between a husband and wife, albeit an usual one, considering the author. But Scott and Lisey love one another no matter what. Their story is very sweet and all-encompassing without losing themselves and their individual place in the world. Lisey is just a women, referred to as Scott’s “gal pal” at times, even, but her place in Scott’s life is solid and endures all trials. This is what I loved best about the book. No matter what craziness (oh and it is so very crazy) happens, they stick together.

The Deep

So, I’m a big Stephen King fan. He’s one of my absolute favorite writers. I am slowly but surely working through his entire bibliography. And thankfully, he is an avid reader and likes to recommend books to his Twitter followers. When I came across his recommendation of The Troop, by Nick Cutter, I did a little research and found that Cutter has only written a few books, and I figured I might as well read them all. Through my Kindle lottery, The Deep was the first of his to come up.

And wow. Oh wow. What a creepy book! Premise is that the world has been taken over by a disease called the ‘Gets where everyone forgets things, starting with small stuff, leading to forgetting to breathe and dying. Young and old, alike, are afflicted. However, a new discovery in the depths of the ocean leads researchers to a hopeful cure for the ‘Gets. Luke’s brother, Clayton, is the head researcher, but living at the bottom of the world has its drawbacks. The dark plays tricks on people. The noises are eerie and reminiscent of children’s laughter. Luke is summoned to go retrieve his brother, because no one has heard from him in quite some time. Once there, Luke realizes the discovery, called ambrosia, isn’t the magic elixir everyone thinks it is. And the other researchers have slowly but surely lost their minds.

The creepy factor ramps up the longer Luke stays below. Occasional flashbacks give us insight into Luke’s life, namely his childhood with his abusive mother and brilliant brother. And these flashbacks play cleverly into the resolution of the book. The book is much more suspenseful and creepy than outright graphic horror, which I think makes it better. There are some rather gross parts, but nothing that I would consider graphic, but I also have a strong tolerance. If you love animals and hate to see them in pain, then I certainly would avoid this book, though. There are some animal testing scenes.

If The Troop is anywhere near as good as this book, I will be really pleased. It’s rare a book holds the suspense for the duration, but this one certainly did it.

314 Trilogy

I’m not a big reader of graphic horror. I like Stephen King, and although his books are technically horror, they aren’t as pervasively graphic as some books I’ve read. There have been a few books that I had to skim because the writing was just too much for me to handle. American Psycho comes to mind. I had to skip several pages at a time in that one. And the dentist scene in A Million Little Pieces was quite memorable as well. But I can usually stomach most anything, and even if I can’t, as long as the story is good, I will stick with it and skim if I have to. This is how I made it through the 314 trilogy.

I read the first one for free from Bookbub and knew that I had to read the rest because the first was just so interesting. I skimmed¬† a lot, I’m not going to lie. But the story was captivating. People in the the town of Widowsfield are reliving the same day over and over again, March 14, and at 3:14 PM, tragedy strikes. The Watcher in the Walls and The Skeleton Man come for them and force some to do terrible things to ones they love.

I read the first two books quite some time ago, so I really don’t remember what happened in which book, but the story of Widowsfield unfolds nicely, with more information coming the more you read, and this is especially true in the last book. You learn the origin of the Watcher and where the Skeleton Man lives. And even though the story is impossible and not grounded in reality at all, you still get an answer that seems somewhat plausible.

I was pleasantly surprised how well the books are written. The language and characters aren’t spectacular or unique, but the story itself was quite clever. If you can get past the graphic violence, these books are a lot of fun.