Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Trapped by Michael Northrop


The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....


The Short Version:
Suspenseful and innovative, Trapped blends a high school world with a fight for survival mindset in a great way. With an easy to like narrator and a small but well defined cast of characters, the steps these teens go through trapped at school is a mix of both funny and endearing. A strong voice, plenty of intensity throughout, and even the lingering threat of death, Trapped gives a whole new meaning to a blizzard.

The Extended Version:
Scotty is a relatable protagonist, kind and thoughtful while still having plenty of teenage boy qualities about him. Loyal to his friends but still able to stand on his own two feet, Scotty is in a good place at the start of the novel. His character development is fueled at a strong pace, and some great strides happen, both in response to small events and big ones. There is a clear but understandable change in him by the end.

There are six other students trapped with Scotty, two of whom he's friends with. Though the reader does get better insight into Jason and Pete because of this, the full supporting cast is well developed. Both Scotty's impressions of the other students with his explanation of their social standing, and later his true understanding of each is portrayed and developed. Krista and Julie are the only two girls caught there, adding in some intensity of their own simply by being girls trapped with five guys, but also for the different way they handle the entire situation. Les is the loner with the bad boy rep, also bringing his own manner of trouble. Closing it out is Elijah, a quiet kid who doesn't have many friends at the school. Despite how different they all are, they actually get along reasonably well, at least at first. As tensions increase with each passing day, they start to rub each other the wrong way, but it has a very realistic element to it.

The plot is centered around these students trying to survive, and though it isn't face paced or necessarily action packed, it is very character driven and Northrop puts plenty of intensity and tension throughout. The characters come up with some very creative ways to survive, both in looking for food and warmth initially, and later as they have to face unexpected problems. Both things readers would expect and ones they wouldn't are thrown at these kids, and with each new blow, the full range of reactions beyond Scotty's is shown. While there was one lingering question that came up several times in Scotty's mind that went unanswered, Northrop overall ties everything up and ends the book in a great way.

There is a very strong voice in Trapped, having a smooth readability and fleshing Scotty out completely. He is very clearly telling the story of what happened, relating it after the fact, sometimes with lines aimed directly at the reader thrown in to really get his point across. He comes across as a very average teen boy, even in his internal dialogue, smart without being a genius, but also having his less than stellar moments. Northrop's writing really gives life to Scotty's mindset, holding just the right amount of description for the reader to full understand the brevity of the situation while still making it come across in a way that Scotty would explain.

From the beginning of the snowfall to how rapidly it starts to build up, the initial hope that someone will come to the final dawning realization that they are trapped, and to the final real push for survival, Trapped covers the entire several days in a very smooth manner. Fantastically described and explained, and even taking into accounts things readers might not consider under the conditions until it's presented, there is no shortage of realism in this one. Holding nothing back in terms of consequences, including the kinds of deaths that could be expected in something like this, Trapped takes a basic premise and plays it out in a great way.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 1, 2011


  1. I really enjoyed this book. Glad to see you liked it as well. It definitely kept the pages turning for me.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  2. This is one of the books on the top tier of my TBR list! Thanks for the review!

  3. Great review - this sounds like a good read.

  4. I love the sound of this book. In some ways it reminds me a little bit of The Breakfast Club lol. Thanks for the great review, I cna't wait to read it.