Tuesday, January 3, 2012

DUAL/GUEST REVIEW: Trapped by Michael Northrop

Allison's Rating: 4/5 Stars
Tracy's Rating: 3/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Suspense

Summary: Seven high school students are stranded at their New England high school during a week-long blizzard that shuts down the power and heat, freezes the pipes, and leaves them wondering if they will survive.

Allison's Guest Review:
I really enjoyed this one. Narrated by the main character, a boy who sees himself as a normal teen, this book takes us into the mindset of teens lost in a crisis. At first, the reader feels like the characters don’t give the situation its due worry, but as the characters develop, the reader realizes that the nonchalant attitude displayed by many of the teens trapped in the school are simply avoiding admitting the danger they face, even to themselves. There are a few scenes which introduce some humor, and many details given to enthrall the reader and keep him/her moving along with the story. It was refreshing to read a book with no clearly defined hero/heroine; just a telling of the story with points of drama where they are needed.

Tracy's Thoughts:
I was very impressed by Northrop's debut novel, Gentlemen, and after reading the blurb and reviews for Trapped I had high hopes for his sophomore effort. As in his first book, Michael Northrop does an excellent job of building tension. Not only is there a growing awareness that this is indeed a life-threatening situation, there is also tension as the 7 teens—many of whom are mere acquaintances—must pull together. I liked that these are seven typical teens, although they do tend to represent the usual cliques (popular girls, jock, outcasts, the school bully). This lends the book a sort of  Breakfast Club-meets-Christopher-Pike vibe (I'm thinking Weekend). The characters often misread one another, allowing their own preconceptions to get in the way. For me, this was the real drama of the story.

However, the characters, particularly the narrator, just didn't have the same zing that I expected after reading Gentlemen. What I enjoyed so much about Gentlemen was Tommy's voice—sharp, biting, and darkly funny. Scotty, the narrator of Trapped, just didn't have that something special that made me truly invested in the story's outcome. I needed more character development. The ending, too, was a bit abrupt for my taste and doesn't really do justice to the excellent premise. But despite my quibbles, Trapped is a quick, enjoyable read and a solid choice for a cold, snowy day's read.

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