Friday, April 27, 2012

The Trap - John Smelcer

Title:  The Trap

Author: John Smelcer

Publication Information: Anderson (2008)

This novel is about an old man who is on his way home from a hunting trip and accidentally gets his leg caught in one of this own traps. It accounts his struggle to survive and his grandson's journey to rescue his grandfather. This story is set in an Alaskan winter, adding to the threat of the grandfather's life and also the worry of Johnny back at the village.

As far as a survival story goes, this novel wasn't very captivating. Although the level of danger to the grandfather, Arthur, was quite high, I wasn't able to empathise with the character because I think that the style of writing, and some of the things that were mentioned distracted from the main plot.

Overall, in my opinion, the premise of the plot initially seemed very interesting, and reading the synopsis on the back of the book, I was intrigued. However, reading this book all the way through was difficult for me despite how short it is due to the plot going on a lot of tangents, telling the readers stories of the Indians surviving cold winters and older traditional tales that the author put in the narration in very unusual places, breaking up the flow of the main plot.

We, as readers, didn't really get to know any of the characters very well and I feel that they could have been developed a lot more. Johnny is a 17 year old boy and apart from his love of reading and school, you don't really get to know a lot about him as a person. Likewise, the grandparents were not described very much either, although the grandfather, Arthur, was shown the most through his struggle and his attitude, which made him, overall, a strong character.

The writing was something that I absolutely loved in this novel, and was the main reason I kept on reading. Smelcer's beautiful fluid descriptions of the Alaskan landscape and the pain that Arthur is going through adds to the cold atmosphere of the novel and really helps you visualise the environment in which these characters live.

Overall, I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars because the writing made up for a lot of the negative opinions I have towards the plot and underdeveloped characters.

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