The first thing to say is that I didn't find The Troop especially scary or spooky, but I did find it thrilling and intense. And disgusting. Cutter's got a real flair for the wet stuff. Things might get a little spoiler-y from here on in, so if you want the short version without spoilers, read no further than this: a scout troop trapped on an isolated island with a hungry something. In all honesty, Cutter had me at 'trapped'. Throwing in hungry-somethings just confirms that I'm gonna love it.
So, the spoiler - the hungry something in this book is one of nature's best little eating machines, and a creature I can't remember coming across in a horror before: the tapeworm.
Or, in this case: genetically modified ubertapeworm :D
I love a little conspiracy in my horror stories, and The Troop has it in abundance, excellently delivered by interview segments that break up the narrative flow and lend a real sense of mystery and foreboding to the action.
The characters: five boys and their scoutmaster, are really well drawn, and believable in their slide toward Lord of the Flies-style chaos. The pace is pretty relentless, and mostly the actions of the characters are believable. Occasionally I found the characters' viewpoints a little jarring - for young teenage boys, some of these kids sure do ponder things in an eloquent philosophical manner. That pulled me out of the action a little, but it's a very minor complaint, and never stops the prose being eminently readable.
If there's one thing I absolutely hated though, it's the animal cruelty. That's a weird thing for somebody who routinely tortures his own characters in horrific ways to say, but something about cruelty to animals just makes me an unhappy reader. That's not to say the scenes involving animals are particularly out of place in The Troop, or even badly done-they're not-and they are very important to establishing a couple of the characters. In fact, those awful scenes excellently written, and two sequences in particular - involving a kitten and a turtle - punched me in the gut about as hard as a book can. So, I didn't *like* it, and it made me squirm, but I can't fault Cutter for that: The Troop is a horror that, at times, is heartbreakingly horrific.
Well worth a read, but if you like kittens, prepare yourself.