Review: Trapped (Northrop)

AUTHOR: Michael Northrop
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press    
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1, 2011 
ISBN:  9780545210126
PAGES: 224
SOURCE: My library
GENRE: Survival, realistic
OVERALL RATING: Not recommended

SUMMARY: Seven students are trapped alone in their high school after a huge snowstorm buries the school. When the electricity, phones, and heat go out, they find themselves stranded and shivering in the dark with no way to contact the outside world. 

WHAT I LIKED:  I love how each chapter begins with the snow illustrations rising higher and higher on the page. By the later chapters, all the pages are solid white, representing the view the kids have outside their high school windows. 

The storyline is pretty realistic. Weather can be pretty crazy, and it is entirely feasible that that much snow could fall and that kids might be trapped in their school without power or heat. 

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Trapped has a surprisingly slow-moving plot. For most of the book, very little actually happens. The idiot teacher leaves, the power and heat go out, they find food in the cafeteria, they argue, they sleep, Scotty obsesses over a zit (pretty gross there), the water goes out…you get the point. Ultimately, while the situation would not be any fun, the kids ARE relatively safe for most of the story. They have plenty of food and are in a very large building, better off than many people I would think. It is realistic–it probably would be pretty boring–but it doesn’t make for the most exciting story.

I have my doubts about some of the characters’ actions. Why are the three boys so hell-bent on staying after school in the first place? At least two teachers tell them to leave; I would think most high school boys would rejoice in the early release from school and clamor to get on the bus.

Why does the teacher leave? Does he really expect to return? I understand the story is better when it is the teens all by themselves, but why write the teacher in at all if he’s just going to be immediately killed off? Readers know the teacher will leave or die early because the blurb mentions only the seven kids. No mention of a teacher being snowed in with them.

Why do they decide to urinate in the can as soon as the water goes out? Aren’t there tons of bathrooms in that school? It’s only seven people, and it’s not like they are going to live there long-term. It’s a big leap to start using the can right after the water goes out.

The reason Pete attacks Les is seriously silly. Pete’s actions are impulsive and his motives understandable; it’s what the girl says that doesn’t make sense. Why would she just say “Les(s)” and nothing else? That explanation is a stretch at best. And how did her coat get torn anyway? Did I miss something there?

Lots of pop-culture references to music, movies, people will date this book quickly.

The ending is anti-climactic. I didn’t care about the characters enough to have any sort of reaction to the final events. I finished reading, closed the book, and went “huh.” I had no feeling for the characters, and the only relief I felt was the fact that I had finally finished the book. 


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; a few crude jokes
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none


STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. The storyline is easy to explain to students looking for a library book. I can explain this one with one simple sentence–“It’s about seven high school students trapped in their school after it gets buried in several feet of snowfall.” SOLD!

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