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Parasites By the Dashboard Light

The Troop by Nick Cutter reveals the ultimate weight loss diet. No, not the parasites, reading this book before lunch.

Parasites By the Dashboard Light

BOOK REPORT for The Troop by Nick Cutter

Cover Story: Island in the Stream
Drinking Buddy:  Six Pack
Testosterone Level: MEAT!
Talky Talk: Do Not Take With Food
Bonus Factors: No One Can Hear You Scream, Canadian Maritime Province
Bromance Status: Sole Survivor

Cover Story: Island in the Stream

The whole story takes place on a remote island off the north coast of Prince Edward Island (it's an island off the coast of a different island. Did I just blow your mind?). And there's an ominous island on the cover. So that's nice. The title is kind of misleading, you'd expect a military theme, not a Boy Scout troop.

The Deal:

Five Boy Scouts and their scoutmaster head out for a weekend of camping on a remote Canadian island. Just a relaxing weekend of smoking, cussing, and hotdog roasting. Surely nothing horrible will happen.

Until someone else shows up. A stranger. A creepy, deranged man who's almost ungodly thin. He wanders into camp begging to be fed. Food. He needs food. He starts to eat everything in the cabin, including the couch. He destroys the boat engine and smashes their only radio.

The scouts wisely decide to leave the cabin. But then...he passes out. Is he dead? He's still moving. Or...something inside of him is moving. Something alive. Something that's hungry. Something that needs a new home.

Now the six survivors must find a way to survive the weekend. Who's infected? Who can be trusted? Is something moving under your skin? Are you infected? Do you feel...hungry?

Drinking Buddy: Six Pack

There are no red shirts in this book. There's Tim, the medical doctor/scoutmaster who was not expecting the weekend to turn out like this. There's Kent, the alpha male and bully. Ephraim, the the violent loose cannon. Max, his steady sidekick. Newton, the overweight, intelligent nerd. And Shelley...who's going to be on the news one day. And not for something good.

Testosterone Level: MEAT!

Now it's not as if the outside world has forgotten about the scouts. Oh no. The authorities were quick to realize the danger that Mr. Infected has brought to the island and place the area under a strict quarantine. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. The military patrols the waters, making escape highly unlikely. When Kent and Max's fathers attempt to run the blockade, the Canadian Coast Guard intercepts them and politely breaks their bones.

Back on the island, things are quickly going to hell. Tim is losing his place as the authority, Shelley has gone mad, and the others are just trying to find food--some more urgently than others. Still, there are a lot of introspective moments. Ephraim's father is in prison and he worries he's going down the same path. Kent starts to break down when he realizes he can't punch the parasites into submission. And in one of the most intense scenes I've read in a while, Newt and Max kill a sea turtle for food, and then are unable to eat it when they realize the pain they've caused it.

Also: BRAINS!

Talky Talk: Do Not Take With Food

Okay, this book is gross. Uncomfortably gross. And this coming from a guy with a shoebox full of Garbage Pail Kids in his attic.

Think of every nightmare you've ever had. Think of living things crawling out of all the bodily orifices. Think of living things crawling into all the bodily orifices. Think of what it's like to have something living and growing inside you, and it's not a baby. Feel it moving in your intestines? Can you glimpse it behind your retina? Bulging around your thigh? It lives. It thinks. It's hungry.

The pure disgustingness of the book doesn't take away from some sloppy writing, however. Helicopters do not have wings, for instance. And one shouldn't flip from standard measurements to metric in the same sentence. This was an advance reader copy, however, it might not have been proofed.

A good book for boys who like splatter movies and such. Otherwise, read on an empty stomach.

Bonus Factor: No One Can Hear You Scream

The Thing. The Shining. Alien. And Then There Were None.  Ah, the great books and movies where a small group of people are trapped, cut off from the outside world, fighting an malevolent, faceless force that's determined to destroy them.

This book follows that grand old tradition Not only that, but no one knows who's been exposed. There's a lot of finger-pointing and accusations by people who are not entirely sure they're free from infection. It doesn't take long for society to break down, especially when the worms start crawling out of people's eye sockets.

Bonus Factor: Canadian Maritime Province

Prince Edward Island: Canada's Delaware. It's nice that this obscure little province is the setting of a book. And if you like this one, be sure to read the humorous novel Rare Birds, set in Newfoundland.

Bromance Status: Sole Survivor

Look, I don't want to talk about it. I'm the only one who survived reading this book, and it wasn't a pleasant experience. I'm so...so....HUNGRY.

Disclosure: I got this free from Net Galley. And according to his Amazon author page, Nick Cutter isn't a real person, it's a nom de plume. The real author is someone we've probably heard of. Someone famous. So why can't he use his real name? Who the hell is this guy? Should be we scared?

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.