Second Look: TRAPPED by Michael Northrop

I think everyone at one time or another has imagined being locked in their school at night, or at a shopping mall after hours, or something similar. In a place usually filled with rules and proper conduct, you have the entire place to yourself to do whatever you want. Imagine being stuck inside, with the makings of the blizzard of the century starting outside. Everyone loves a snow day… unless the snow doesn’t stop, and you have no way out.

The Story: When the snow starts falling, Scotty and his friends are at school as usual, and are beyond stoked to hear the announcement for early dismissal. As Scotty waits with his two friends and four other classmates for their rides home, the snow is getting higher by the minute. And their rides never come. They decide to stay at the school for shelter and wait out the storm, but what they don’t know is that this is no ordinary storm. This is worse than a storm, because the snow is falling as much as a foot an hour and isn’t stopping. And then the power goes out. And then the heat. As food starts to run out, tempers start to flare, and it looks like all hope is lost, these seven teens need to figure out how to survive the storm… and each other.

The Low Down: Michael Northrop’s survival story reminds me a bit of what would happen if the cast of The Breakfast Club were trapped inside their high school amid a raging blizzard. The group of high schoolers from very different cliques (jock, nerd, outcast, pretty girl, etc.) is perfectly blended with a Lord of the Flies-esque scenario to give the reader enough suspense to ramp up the intensity, but not so much that it’s frustrating and unsatisfying. It’s a page turner for sure (I read the whole thing in one sitting) and every page left me eager to know what sort of disaster would befall these poor kids next. Which, by the way, reminds me of another mark of a good book…

I genuinely cared about these characters. They were well developed, and I found myself wondering who would get out ok and was saddened by the thought that some of them might not get out at all. More than once I thought, “NO! Leave him alone… that’s not what she meant!” or “YOU CAN’T SEND HIM OUT THERE! HE’LL NEVER SURVIVE!” Scotty’s relationship with his two close buddies was not just explained, but felt. The reader can easily sense the bond these characters have, no matter what was going on between them.

A major element in the story is foreshadowing, which was both a good and bad thing for this book. I LOVE when books ominously foreshadow things to come (see my review of 172 Hours on the Moon for a similar title that expertly uses the same device), and Trapped totally delivered in that respect. However, the actual result didn’t live up to the scariness of the foreshadowing. A few times, I found myself thinking, “Oh. THAT is the horrendous thing he was alluding to? That wasn’t THAT bad…” Of course, I can also attribute that to the fact that I’m a fan of Stephen King and horror movies, so if someone’s isn’t getting buried alive or having their head chopped off, I’m usually disappointed. Therefore, I was a little let down, but I’m thinking that has more to do with my desensitivity to the horror/suspense genre than the writing itself.

EXTRA GOODIES:

  • If you dig stories of survival and apocalyptic end-of-the-world type stuff, try Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (just released in June 2012) or, an oldie but a goodie, the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Both are guaranteed to satisfy.
  • If you live in or are able to travel to eastern PA in the next week or so, Michael Northrop will be in Easton, PA for YA FEST 2012 on August 4, 2012! Stop in, meet Mr. Northrop and over 30 more YA authors, get autographed books, and enter raffles for lots of fun free stuff including signed ARCs and swag!

The Bottom Line: Michael Northrop’s tale of survival is a fascinating look at what can happen when seven regular teens are left to their own devices during a disaster. It’s well paced with a satisfying ending, and is definitely a quick, page-turning read. This would be a prime choice for engaging reluctant readers.

OFFICIAL RATING: 8/10

Want to see more? Check out this excellent book trailer for Trapped, masterfully created by Naomi Bates over at YA Books and More:

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