The Troop by Nick Cutter
When Troop 52 take to the small uninhabited island of Falstaff it should have been just a regular three-day trip for the boys to earn their hiking and survival badges. On the first night there the troop leader and doctor, Tim Riggs makes sure the boys are settled in for the night and as he peers across the dark ocean that surrounds him he sees a boat. He follows it’s course as it pulls up onto the island and he watches as a creature, barely human stumbles towards him. Every instinct in Riggs body tells him to run but the doctor in him tell him this skeletal man is ill and needs help. As the man begs for food and shovels dirt and plants into his mouth Riggs agrees and without realising it puts the entire troop’s lives at risk.
As a fan of both epidemic and monster stories this novel ticks all my boxes. The man that stumbles onto Falstaff Island contains a contagious biological threat (trying to avoid spoilers isn’t easy here!) and turns the island into a bubbling hotpot of tension and claustrophobia. Taking massive influence from Lord of the Flies the book doesn’t just look into the contagion but also in the power struggles and personalities of boys turning into men and battling for dominance. Add to that stomach-churningly graphic details of the physical effect of the disease, nail-biting tension and a plot that will keep you up all night reading ‘just one more page’ and it all adds up to one of the best horrors I’ve ever read.
Buy The Troop by Nick Cutter