Sophomore and rising basketball star Scotty Weems is going through the motions of a typical school day when the first signs of a blizzard appear in southern New England. As seven lingering students wait for a ride home from Tattawa High School (“in the boondocks, the sticks, the butt-end of nowhere”), readers of Michael Northrop’s nail-biting Trapped learn on the first page that some of the kids “weren’t going to get picked up, not on that day and maybe not ever.”
The nor’easter stalls over three states, gaining strength instead of weakening and dumping nonstop snow for days. There are no warm Breakfast Club moments as students from all social levels are forced together. Marooned at the school with Scotty are his best friends Jason, who’s secretly building a go-kart in the shop wing, and Pete, an all-around “normal” guy; school thug Les; strange, antisocial Elijah; and attractive freshman Krista and her good friend Julie.
What starts out as a novelty—a night at school with no adults, with the most annoying aspect being the inability to access Mafia Wars via cell phone—turns to sheer survival as one by one they lose communication, light, heat and food. With boredom, fatigue, fear and desperation mounting as fast as the snow, Scotty and readers alike begin to wonder if and how they’ll die, especially when some of the students begin getting injured and disappearing.
Readers will continuously change their minds about potential suspects as Northrop spins a series of fast-paced twists and turns. They’ll also want to make sure they have plenty of time to read this thriller, because once they sink into it, they won’t want to surface until they reach the dramatic ending.
Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Seven high school students find themselves trapped at their isolated, rural school for nearly a week when an unrelenting blizzard dumps upwards of ten feet of snow on southern New England. The first-person narrative immediately captures the claustrophobic atmosphere; it loses a little steam as it navigates the requisite obstacles for survival and the evolving group dynamic to an abrupt resolution. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 January #2
When a nor'easter stalls over New England, the resulting blizzard strands seven teenagers at school for a week.Â The stage is quickly set for an edge-of-your-seat experience as Scotty, a sophomore varsity hoops player, narrates with a chilling nonchalance even as he makes it clear that at least one person didn't survive. Telling them, "I'll be sort of like your guide through all of this," Scotty lulls readers into an ordinary morning at school, during which his biggest concern is whether the evening's game will be cancelled, then hints at the horrific things to come with images of "black smoke and blue skin." Scotty and his friends Jason and Pete hang out in shop class after early dismissal, sure that Jason's dad will pick them up. Cell phones die, parents don't arrive and the snow keeps rising, leaving the marooned students to fend for themselves. Scotty narrates from a slight remove, lending a deceptively one-dimensional feel to the cast of characters, a Breakfast Club assortment of various stereotypes from jock and goth to bad boy and hot girl. Just as he did in Gentlemen (2009), Northrop gets at the core of human nature through masterful pacing. The characters rise above their seeming limits, as the dawning realization of their worsening situation leads to acts of desperate bravery. Gripping. (Adventure. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #1
Northrop (Gentlemen) offers a gripping disaster story that, for its reliance on luck and coincidences to set things up, is no less exciting. Although Tattawa High School in rural New England closes early for snow, basketball player Scotty and fellow sophomores Jason and Pete stay late to work on Jason's go-kart. By the time they realize that the storm is too strong for their parents to pick them up, they're trapped along with four other students (and a teacher, who quickly leaves to seek help). They're already out of cellphone range, and when the power goes out, all hope of communicating with the outside world is lost. As the snow piles up to over 10 feet, the captive students do their best to survive and wait for help. The problems are expected--darkness, infighting, jealousy, illness, hunger--but conveyed with a tight sense of realism through Scotty's narrative voice. He tells readers early on that "not all of us made it," so the surprise is less that things keep going wrong than how they do. Northrop's solid storytelling should keep readers rapt. Ages 15-up. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 7-10--High school sophomore Scotty Weem's narration reveals immediately that he survives southern New England's worst nor'easter ever recorded, but also that others in his group will die. The chilling story begins innocently enough as the snow starts to fall early in the day. When an early dismissal is announced, Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason finagle their way into the shop to work on Jason's project, a go-kart, until their rides come. But they soon find themselves stranded in their rural high school building with five others: pretty Krista and her friend, Julie; thuggish Les; weird Elijah; and one gruff teacher. Their cell phones don't work. Their rides don't show up. The teacher goes for help and never returns. The power goes off. As hours, then days, pass, the water stops, the heat goes off, and they get increasingly hungry, cold, and scared. Readers might speculate about what they should have done, could have done, if stuck in their place, but the author does an admirable job of keeping the tone and plot appropriately sophomoric, i.e., they don't always do the right thing, but do the best they can with knowledge and skills even they recognize are inadequate. The climax is propelled as much by the teens' interpersonal conflicts as by Jason's improbable deus ex machina from the shop. Teens should enjoy reading this survival story with their feet up in front of a toasty fire.--Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA[Page 116]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.