Review: Trapped by Michael Northrop

by Michael Northrop

ISBN-13: 9-780545-210126
Published: January 2011 by Scholastic
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

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 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…

Living in a place that gets snow for a good six months, I often wondered what would happen if I ever got snowed in at school (back when I was in elementary and high school) with no way for anyone to come get me (almost happened at work, once. I had to walk halfway home!). Trapped takes my question and answers it in the most extreme way possible.

Seven students are stuck at their high school when a snowstorm hits. At first, they don’t think that anything is wrong – they believe they will be picked up and safe at home before the day is over. As the storm continues to rage on, and the power goes out, they come to the conclusion that their rides cannot make it through the snow, and will be spending the night in the school. The snow keeps rising, and the days start to add up. As they run out of emergency light, scavenge the cafeteria for food, and get progressively colder, Scotty, Pete and the others trapped in the school hear an ominous creaking from the roof, and realize that not only is no one coming, but it may be possible no one even knows they’re there.

Through Scotty, our narrator, you get to know the seven teens as much as possible. Divisions and friendships change up as the situation becomes worse, and tempers are quick to flare. For all that you do get character insight, I saw the book more as a survival story than a character interaction/development story. The draw for me was the challenges that the seven faced and how they dealt with their situation. I didn’t need a whole bunch of back story – the few bits presented throughout the story as they’re needed were perfect. Michael Northrop has great mood writing; I was drawn right into the setting and storm, and the descriptions of the cold, the dark and Scotty’s worries really stood out and added depth to the story. It was easy to imagine the anger and lack of hope they feel when they begin realizing that things are a lot worse than they originally thought. Their worries for family members that may or may not have made it home from other places just adds to the stress you know they are all feeling.

I was happy to see the attention paid to details, like lights, cold, needing food, finding a radio, etc. I would have liked a bit more to the ending, I thought it was rather abrupt, but it does work with the book. It’s more personal preference that I wanted to see more of the “after” of the storm. Trapped is a bit of a slower book, like I mentioned above, it is definitely a survival story. Not too much action but a lot of development and enough tension to keep the book going at a good pace. The decisions the teens eventually have to make in order to survive were heartbreaking, and I have to say – the book gave me chills 😉