Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

The TroopFrom Goodreads: Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith. Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons. Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.


I’m sorry to say that this novel is just not for me.  Truth be told, I was not ready for the graphic, nauseating images that are released on readers in this one. Nor was I ready for the awful animal abuse described.  This is a very graphic novel, and it made me ill–especially in terms of the worms and the psychotic/sociopathic nature of some of the Troop (Shelley) that is brought to light before everything even begins to go downhill . Things go from bad to worse quickly in this novel, and while it was interesting in the beginning, it ended up making me physically nauseous at times, and turned me into a bit of a hypochondriac as I read. I really enjoyed the concept behind it, but didn’t care for any of the characters–they’re all kind of jerks–and absolutely hated the sections where the lab documented the test subjected on the animals. Wow. Animal abuse is not okay, and I had a really hard time reading a lot of these scenes.

For me, the novel wasn’t a scary read by any means—instead, I found it disturbing and, as I’ve said, overly graphic.  Because of this, I don’t have a set group I’d recommend this novel to.  I enjoyed Lord of the Flies, which is one of the reasons I picked up this novel to begin with (the other was the original cover, but it’s since been changed to this more drab, bloody one), so I can’t say that if you enjoyed The Lord of the Flies, you’ll enjoy this one, but perhaps you will.  Just go into this novel knowing that, while very well written, it deals with graphic blood and gore, animal abuse, and disturbing images. Two stars.

2 stars

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 25, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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17407237From Goodreads: The secret of having an adventure is getting lost. Who ever visited an enchanted kingdom or fell into a fairy tale without wandering into the woods first?

Well, Mary is lost. Mary is lost in the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and that is a cruel and murderous story. She’s put on the red hood and met the Wolf. When she gives in to her Wolf’s temptations, she will die. That’s how the story goes, after all.

Unfortunately for the story and unfortunately for the Wolf, this Little Red Riding Hood is Mary Stuart, and she is the most stubborn and contrary twelve year old the world has ever known.

Forget the Wolf’s temptations, forget the advice of the talking rat trying to save her – she will kick her way through every myth and fairy tale ever told until she finds a way to get out of this alive. Her own way, and no one else’s.


I’m sorry to say that this novel just isn’t for me. I originally wanted to read it because I usually enjoy revamped fairy tales, but Mary completely turned me off from this story. I was expecting a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a contrary heroine, which in my mind meant more assertive a deviating from the meek path of Red in the traditional stories. But in this story, contrary actually stands for vile, obnoxious, cussing, kicking, punching, and vulgar interactions that don’t really sit well with me, especially as our “heroine” is just 12 years old. From the very beginning, with her blatant disrespect of her mother, I had an inkling I wasn’t going to enjoy the story on a personal level, and when Mary began cussing at everyone and everything, it was basically over for me. Now, Mary does have a few redeeming qualities in that she really does care about people, but she’s hard pressed to show it, and she’d rather kick someone in their private areas first and ask questions later. Honestly, I think this was more of a “shock the reader” type of story where crazy situations evolve and Mary responds vulgarly to them. Which, truthfully, isn’t my type of story.  One star.


I originally requested this novel from Netgalley, but as a Kindle version was not available, I purchased it from Amazon, instead.

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