Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Trapped, by Michael Northrup (2011, Scholastic Press)

Recommended for ages 13+

Seven teenagers find themselves trapped in a rural Massachusetts high school during an unprecedented blizzard. Scotty Weems, a 15-year old basketball player, and his friend Pete make the decision to stay, despite the early dismissal, to help his friend Jason work on a go-kart project in shop. Jason promises that his father will pick them up, and that his 4×4 can get through the snow and before the storm gets too bad.
By the time the boys finish, the storm is in full force. No one’s cell phones are working and a look outside quickly brings home the realization that no one can get to them. Seven students – five boys and two girls –are stuck in the school building with a teacher, Mr. Gossell, who is clearly annoyed at having to stay behind for the late teens. Frustrated, Mr. Gossell attempts to make it to his car and is never seen again, leaving the teens to fend for themselves as they wait for the storm to break and for rescue. Tensions rise as conditions worsen and the storm refuses to let up. The teens are faced with an difficult position: to stay in the school and risk running out of heat and food, or to try to venture out and get help, and risk freezing to death in the snow.
Trapped builds slowly, creating tension as the blizzard worsens and the teens’ sense of isolation grows. There is not a lot of character development, which makes it difficult to invest in any of the characters. Despite being the main character, the reader knows hardly anything about Scotty; his friends Jason and Pete appear to be there solely to provide scenarios for Scotty to react to. Elijah and Les are the “troublemakers” or “bad kids”, and Krista and Julie are there for touches of brief romance. Just as Mr. Northrop has built sufficient interest and gets the reader to commit to the story, it ends – while I wouldn’t call it a rushed ending, it definitely left me feeling like I’d been left hanging.
Trapped has received numerous accolades, including designation as an American Library Association/YALSA Readers’ Choice List selection (2012); ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (2012); Indie Next List selection (Spring 2011); Barnes & Noble “Must-Read for Teens”; TAYSHAS (Texas) High School Reading List selection (2012); Readers’ Choice List selection in Pennsylvania and Virginia; and StorySnoops “Best of 2011″ pick.
Author Michael Northrop ‘s website offers links to his blog, his books, and event information. He also has pages on Facebook and Twitter.

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