- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 12
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545210135
- ISBN-13: 978-0545210133
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 159 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trapped Paperback – December 1, 2012
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“Compelling…Michael Northrop deftly describes teens who are tested by the endless snow.” -- USA Today
“A gripping disaster story…Northrop's solid storytelling should keep readers rapt.” -- Publishers Weekly
“An edge-of-your-seat experience…Just as he did in Gentlemen, Northrop gets at the core of human nature through masterful pacing.” -- Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Gentlemen :
“Northrop's first novel is creepy, yet it has what can pass for a happy – or at least satisfying – ending.” -- The New York Times
“A riveting thriller...This is a rare sort of book that may work just as well for reluctant readers as it will avid ones.” -- Booklist
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Scotty Weem and 6 other high school students, a mixed bag of people and personalities, are trapped for 5 days at the school as a blizzard rages throughout the northeast. This was not just any blizzard, and not just any nor'easter. "It was a natural disaster in the way the earthquakes and tidal waves are natural disasters".(p.2) Of course, none of the trapped students knew this at the outset. For them, rescue was just around the corner, until at some point, maybe when the snow covered the windows of the first floor windows, it wasn't.
The crew of 7 includes two freshmen girls; 2 male "outcasts," one labeled a Goth and the other, a delinquent. And 3 boys who had a long standing friendship; Scotty, Jason, and Peter. There was wariness, suspicion, and unfounded perceptions among the unwillingly formed group of teens.
The 5 days spent trapped in the old school building became one worse day after another. The worst day faded as the new worst day dawned. And the dawns faded as the school was encased in 18 plus feet of snow and the windows on the first floor were covered.
Food was found in the cafeteria at the cost of breaking into several locked doors and storage lockers. Peaches and chocolate pudding were the main items on the group's menu. Soon, the pipes froze making water a precious commodity. The lights failed and the battery powered backup lights soon faded leaving the kids in total darkness when they ventured off of the second floor. There was no heat, no blankets, no sanitation, and now, without lights, journeys to the cafeteria to replenish their food supply, became dangerous excursions.
A fascinating observation that was beautifully executed through Scotty's musing was the effect of having no communication with the outside world. This is a group of kids with computers, ipads, cell phones, video games, texting, facebook, and a myriad of communication channels available 24-7. Suddenly they were completely disconnected from their internet world. Scotty had left his cell phone at home that day, forgotten on his dresser. Others had phones but with limited charge in each and no way to recharge them. And, unbeknownst to them, the cell tower was destroyed by the violence of the blizzard. There was no way anyone could know that they were even trapped in the high school. And once anyone would be able to navigate the outdoors again, no one would know to look for them. A fatalistic theme enters the story, slowly, but pervasive.
Another compelling aspect of the plot was the relationship of the group members. Northrop presents a clear and believable picture of the inter-relationships among the members; notions and actions about one another that are both real and perceived. This is a group that never becomes a team; they do not bond, nor do heroic things for the sake of the group. In some ways,are so estranged that they d0 not even get together to use their numbers to help them survive. Even Scotty and his 2 best friends found it difficult at times to be supportive of each other.
So here we have the "trapped in a crisis situation" plot and 7 teenagers with few if any survival skills or even common sense among them. The tension does build daily as one disaster after another befalls this group, making their chances of survival diminish as the days pass. We have a brilliant depiction of a group that is naive, unskilled in daily living unless it is on the internet; a group that has no interest in the other members or their survival; a group that is basically disconnected from each other, and from the world. How does this all turn out?
Well, read the book - the ending is not generic nor does it result in happy days or dreams come true. Northrup continues the tension in his writing up to (and beyond, in the reader's mind) the very last page. He shows a keen understanding of teenagers as he presents this story through the eyes of Scotty Weems. He is the narrator. His observations, thoughts, and emotions, convey the unfolding of the plot in a believable manner. This is a well written book - something a young adult and even an older adult such as myself can thoroughly appreciate.
I am looking forward to more such writing from Northrop as I hope he is at work on his next compelling story.
I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the mega storm - made me want to put a sweater on. There were some pretty disturbing storm images discussed. This probably isn't a book you want to be reading in the middle of a blizzard.
Some good character development, although rather stereotyped. There were 2-3 improbable situations over the course of the book that I don't believe would have happened in real life, one being that a group of boys would have free rein over a shop class and all its tools without a teacher being there and being told to 'lock up' on the way out - not in this day of lawsuits. But the niggling details didn't take away from the story too much. More time could have been spent on the ending, too. But all in all, a good little story. Some adults like myself will enjoy it and I think that most junior high and lower high school kids will.