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Trapped, by Michael Northrup

06 Apr

2011, Scholastic Press, ISBN 978-0545210126

Plot Summary: 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.

Critical Evaluation: 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.

Reviews: Booklist: “The pages turn like wildfire.”

Publishers Weekly: “A gripping disaster story.”

Awards: 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; StorySnoops “Best of 2011″ pick.

Reader’s Annotation: When school lets out early because of the snowfall, Scotty and his friends never expected it would get that bad. Now, the snow keeps falling, and they can’t get in touch with their families. Will they make it out? 

Author Information: Author Michael Northrop ‘s website offers links to his blog, his books, and event information. He also has pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Genre: Adventure. Subgenres: Suspense, realistic fiction, disaster, siege

Booktalking Ideas: Scotty and his friends find themselves trapped in their school during a snowstorm. Would you have left the building when school was dismissed and taken your chances on the school bus? Would it be better to be stuck in the school building or take the chance on the bus getting stuck in the snow?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 13+

Challenge Issues/Defense: I don’t see anything that would cause this book to be challenged.

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?

After reading Hatchet, I found I enjoyed the adventure/survival genre and wanted to read another book in a similar vein.

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