TITLE: Trapped
Michael Northrop
Scholastic Press
PRICE: $17.99
February 1, 2011

By Lora Van Marel
Staff Writer, One-Woman Show

Trapped is best described as a combination of The Breakfast Club and I Shouldn’t Be Alive, which is a show on Animal Planet where people tell their stories about how they survived some horrific episode like getting lost in the Grand Canyon. The story follows seven teens trapped in a high school during one of history’s worst blizzards. All the typical characters are there: the jock, the rebel, the good girl, the hot girl, the class clown, the loner, and that guy that spends all his time in shop.

This book isn’t just about teen angst, but also strict survival skills. This blizzard deposits about 18 feet of snow and the high school loses power, including heat. These 15 and 16-year-old kids are terrified not only for their own lives, but for all of their friends and family who are also out in this blizzard. The kids are left on their own to scavenge for food and figure out if they should try and escape or wait for rescue. A week is long time to spend with the same seven people in a confined space. Groups start to form, suspicions rise, and tempers flare. Northrop writes a story not just about surviving the cold, but also about basic human emotion.

There are only seven teens in the book, so the character development is strong. The characters that are left in the dark and not developed as much are the ones who are supposed to be mysterious. Scotty, the narrator, is a bit afraid of them and wants to avoid them. By leaving some of his characters in the dark a bit, Northrop is able to create even more tension in an already compelling and page-turner.

Northrop. Image from michaelnorthrop.net.

Northrop uses other little every day things that teenagers experience to distract from the life and death situation. For instance, Scotty has a huge zit on his face and it causes him a lot of stress during the week. While that may sound stupid and disgusting, having Scotty obsess over it really made the character that much more real for the audience. What teenager doesn’t obsess about how they look?  Especially when they are in very close quarters with a crush.

The absolute best part about this whole story was the setting and surviving that the main characters had to do. Stuck in a two-story high school in the middle of the countryside, two miles away from any civilization in the middle of a snow storm might sound like an adventure. But when the kids wake up on after their first night in the school and the entire first floor is buried in snow and the heat stops working, it quickly becomes very frightening.

Northrop does a good job of foreshadowing, with Scotty giving away information about what will happen, hinting that not everyone survives.  hat really leaves the reader wanting to read quickly to determine who is not going to make it home. With such strong character development, the reader gets more and more connected, making the losses at the end of the book that much more meaningful. Northrop knows how to write suspense.

The only really big complaint about the book was the ending. It just…ends. The reader is left wanting to know more about not only what happened to the surviving characters, but also all of the family members and friends discussed in he book. Those parents on the way to the school to pick them up that never showed, all the kids in the buses that surely didn’t make it to safety in time, and the teacher that left them behind in hopes of finding help. The ending was decent, it didn’t leave too many big questions unanswered, but putting the book down was difficult because you just wanted there to be more.

RATING: 7/10

Front page image from rtbookreviews.com.