What’s the most horrifying thing you can imagine? This is a hundred times worse…

Today’s review: Trapped

Author: Jack Kilborn (A.K.A Joe Konrath)

Front cover of Jack Kilborn's Trapped

Front cover of Jack Kilborn’s Trapped

Publisher: Joe Konrath (JK Publishings)
Number of Pages: 321
Number of Parts: 5
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Tagline: No One Here Gets Out Alive

It was supposed to be a harmless camping trip. Six wayward teenagers who’d run into trouble with the law, and their court-appointed guardians, Sara and Martin Randhurst. Three nights on a small, deserted island off of Michigan’s upper peninsula. A time to bond, to learn, to heal.
Then Martin told a campfire story about the island’s history. Of the old civil war prison hidden in there, and the starving confederate soldiers who resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Everyone thought it was funny. They even laughed when Martin pretended to be dragged off into the woods.
But Martin didn’t come back. And neither did Sara when she went in search of him.
Then the laughter stopped.
The group soon began to realise that this deserted island wasn’t so deserted after all, And perhaps Martin’s ridiculous story had more truth to it than anyone thought.

I don’t usually read many gory horror/thriller books, so the cannibalistic motif surrounding this book shook me to the core. It seems cruel and even inhuman that a person might have to endure the amount of pain and suffering that the characters of this book went through.

Trapped does not contain any chapters, but is sectioned off into five parts; Campfire Stories, The Frying Pan (probably not the kind of frying pan you’re thinking of), The Fire, Sowing, and Reaping. During each section, each of the characters takes their turn to tell the story from their eyes. These characters include Sara and Martin Randhurst, the guardians of the kids sentenced into their care by the courts to rehabilitate them, Cindy Welp, a recovering meth addict, Tyrone Morrow, an escapee from one of Motor City’s worst street gangs, jewellery store robber Laneesha Simms, Meadowlark Purcell, a Detroit street gang runaway, Tom Gransee, a high-speed driving carjacker with ADHD, and Georgia Dailey, a mentally disturbed girl who abused the children she was meant to be babysitting.
As well as telling the current events as they happened, each character delved into their past, revealing to the reader how they ended up at the rehabilitation centre and what drove them to commit the crimes that they did. By doing so, the reader gains a better understanding of each character and allows them to sympathise with the hardship that the characters had to endure previous to their arrival at the centre.

The story provokes questions related to what lengths ordinary human beings will go to when is comes to surviving the most dangerous and hostile of situations, and when danger presses in on all sides, how will they react?

Although Trapped was mostly very action-packed, the further I read, the more I felt like the story dragged. It seemed as though in some parts Kilborn was simply trying to pack as much gory details in as possible, instead of focussing more on atmosphere and audience impact where it was needed. Some of the slang that characters like Tyrone and Laneesha used did become a little annoying after a while, likeable as their characters were, and on the subject of characters, I think Kilborn needed to do some more research where babies are concerned. During times of great crisis and screaming cannibals, Sara’s baby Jack, instead of crying like any normal child, would doze off or “gurgle happily”. Also, although with his mother for the majority of the book, he wasn’t really taken care of properly. Babies of Jack’s age need to be fed every two or so hours and changed regularly. Over the timespan of the book, which amounts to a couple of days, feeding and changing occurred maybe twice tops. I still don’t actually understand why the baby was a character in the first place. He had no outstanding contribution to the story, past or present, nor did he draw any feelings out of me save for the fact that it would have been unfortunate for a baby to die.

I also hope that this book is never considered to be turned into a movie, simply because it would turn out to be a very obvious hit-and-miss. Trapped is  adequate as a gory and shocking horror story, but any attempt at a movie would just ruin the suspense and atmosphere that the story created.

Overall, Trapped indulged my curiosity about how ordinary people manage the extraordinary situations they are unwillingly thrust into. It explored the horrors of cannibalism and violence and the way certain people are drawn to the concept of death and pain. I ultimately enjoyed the book and it gave me a good two days’ worth of reading. I have gathered from other readers that, although Trapped was satisfying, it is not one of Kilborn’s best books; the preferred being Origin (published under J.A. Konrath) and Afraid. I think I will move onto one of these before forming a final opinion on Kilborn’s writing.

Rating: 7.5/10

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