Book Review: Trapped

By: Michael Northrop
Published By: Scholastic Press
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2011 (But some sites are already selling it according to Michael's website.)
Buy it at Amazon
Source: ARC borrowed from our friends, Page Turners

Trapped is a book best read under a cozy blanket with a mug of steaming hot tea. The novel revolves around seven teenagers who are stuck inside their high school for several days after a blizzard smacks their tiny town. The day begins like most others for Scotty Weems. He sits through his classes listening to his teachers drone on while watching an occasional snowflake or two dance past the window. Weems, as Scotty is often called, is preoccupied with the thoughts of the big basketball game after school and doesn't pay attention to the growing excitement around the snow. As the day progresses and the weather worsens, the school decides it would be best to send everyone home early.

As teenagers rejoice in their new found freedom and flock to the bus lanes and parking lot, Weems finds himself left behind. Jason, his best friend, wants to work on his project and insists that Weems and Pete, another good friend, stay behind to help him for a bit. Jason promises that his Dad will be along to pick them all up later in the afternoon. This choice will change the lives of all three boys forever.

The snow is relentless and a few hours later the drifts are a foot high. As the boys make their way to the front door of the school, they notice that they are not alone. They meet the eyes of: Les, the trouble maker, Elijah, the creepy kid who hardly ever speaks or leaves the library, Krista, the hot freshman girl, Julie, the cute freshman girl who happens to be best friends with the hot freshman girl. Getting trapped in the school with these kids shows Weems that appearances can be deceiving.

Trapped is The Breakfast Club mixed with a natural disaster. These kids have no desire to hang out with one another before the incident, but they will learn that who they were before doesn't matter much when you need each other to survive. I found it fascinating to watch how the relationships between these characters evolved as the story unfolded. However, truly connecting with the characters was difficult at times since the story is told from Scotty's point of view. I found myself wondering what was going through the minds of the others and what were they doing when Scotty was not in the room with them. I feel like this novel would have been much stronger if it had been told from rotating main characters or from third person point of view. I am sure the author had his reasons for limiting the perspective to what Scotty saw and did, but I think the story would have been much richer otherwise.

I was impressed by some of the strategies the teens used to stay alive. Food wasn't an issue as the cafeteria was stocked with enough to help them survive for quite some time. However, the lack of electricity posed a huge problem for the kids. Staying warm became crucial. I felt like this book did a good job of explaining the thought process of someone caught in a hopeless situation.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but there were some parts that were tedious. The reason behind this is there is not a whole lot for these kids to do while trapped. It is hard to make everything exciting when seven teens are basically sitting around waiting to be rescued or die. Northrop does an excellent job of making you feel the desperation the kids feel as each day passes. When I got to the middle, I was tempted to read the last chapter just to make sure everything was going to turn out okay. Books that have me that anxious are definitely doing a good job with pacing and plot. I had to know if these kids were going to make it out of this situation. I kept thinking the whole time that if I had been trapped in my high school I would have spent a lot of time in the library. Reading would have made the time go by faster for me, but only one character ever reads during this novel.

I also think Northrop did a great job of creating a strong male voice in Scotty. The YA market seems to be flooded with so many books marketed for girls these days that is refreshing to see something that would appeal to male readers. Also, this book would be a great one for reluctant readers. It is a quick and engaging read.

My biggest complaint with this one was the ending. It just felt flat and uneventful. I don't feel like I truly got closure. I don't want to say too much and spoil anything, but just be prepared to have many questions left unanswered. 

I gave this one 3 birdies due to the limited perspective and the ending. If those things had been fixed for me this would have been rated much higher.

One Last Gripe: I want to know what happened to the characters after the end of the book. What happened next?

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The description - I don't live somewhere that gets snow like this so I had no concept of any of the weather related things. Northrop did an excellent job of putting me there with the kids. His words helped paint pictures in my mind.

First Sentence: We were the last seven kids waiting around to get picked up from Tattawa Regional High School.

Favorite Character: Jason

Least Favorite Character: Elijah

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. . . . 


  1. This book definitely caught my attention. Seems perfect to read during a snow storm, warm at home of course :P
    Even writing this I'm imagining if this were a situation I'd have to go through: trapped at school, on the subway ? Panic inducing!

  2. @Laura - it is certainly worth the time. I had the same musings about it happening to me. I think if I had to get stuck somewhere I'd want to be stuck at Barnes and Noble - books and Starbucks!

  3. Love you review on this book. I have not written mine yet, but I agree with your take on the book.


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