Trapped by Jack Kilborn (Book Review)
Plot: 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. 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. The group soon began to realize that this deserted island wasn’t so deserted after all. And perhaps Martin’s ridiculous story had more truth to it than anyone thought. What’s the most horrifying thing you can imagine? This is a hundred times worse…
My Review: This book starts off with a group of people on a boat traveling to an island to go camping. There is a couple with a baby who are the “leads” of the group. Honestly, I didn’t remember the “plot” of this when I started reading it other then a group of people going camping. But we come to find out this couple runs a shelter for teenagers who’ve lost their way and gotten into trouble with the law. Instead of going to Juvenile Hall, they go to the center that Sara and Martin run. Things aren’t going well for the center or for Sara and Martin’s marriage, so as a last hurrah for both they plan this camping trip. One thing that bothered me is that we never know how old these kids are, only that they are teenagers. Eventually its said that Tom is 16, but that’s about 60% of the way through the book, and I’d already envisioned the teens to be 18-19 or so. No biggie really though.
What I found I liked from the get-go was we get to learn something about each of the characters. Right before each one gets pulled into the woods, or killed, or the book switches to a scene in the present with a character, the author writes a couple pages about the characters past. I found it helpful to get to know them, understand them, and like or hate them, which made me have an “emotional connection” when that character was in danger or killed.
The group make it to the island and while sitting around the campfire, Martin decides to tell them a story about a group of people who got stranded on the island, and a bunch of Cannibals happen upon them. His story gets cut off, and he explains that he was going to scare them while getting “pulled into the woods” by something unseen, but he thought better about it. A few moments later, he gets pulled into the woods, and never comes back. This starts the part of the book where everyone gets split up because everyone thinks Martin is joking. When he doesn’t come back a long time later, Sara and one of the teenagers head into the woods to look for the prankster. When they finally catch up with him they discover him bound and gagged. He’s bait. A bunch of crazy cannibals have done this to him. They get lost on their way back to the campsite and during this time that we read about what happens to the other teenagers. Some are attacked by the “ferals” who chase after them with forks, knives, and salt shakers. Yes a salt shaker. Its only mentioned twice, so its easy enough to forget about.
There is a story for why the ferals are there (stop reading here if you don‘t want to know anything about it, its really just a mild spoiler), and how they became the way they did at the hands of a mad doctor and his “sidekick” serial killer. Its not a “disfigured mutant cannibal” family like so many other horror books and movies. Thank god! Sick of those. And I was very glad there was a plausible reasoning for all these crazy people being on the island. I wasn’t thrilled by the forks and salt shakers. I don’t care how crazy these people are, it just seemed hilarious to visualize. I also wasn’t so keen on the idea that Martin and Sara brought their baby along. He just seemed out of place and it just didn’t flow right with having the baby attached to someone during fight scenes or flinging it across a room, or various other things that happened with it.
There were a couple parts to the book I loved, the one part where one of the boys discovers dinner cooking on the campfire. Great squirmy scene. I could totally picture that playing out in a movie.
I had read a couple non-spoiler 1-2 star reviews as I started this one, and the top complaints were: Bad writing due to dialogue and silliness with the salt shaker & forks. I can agree with the latter. The former however, well quite frankly I thought the dialogue was actually really decent. But if you are a 50+ year old person who doesn’t know the way that teenagers have spoken for the last 15 years, well then you aren’t going to like this one. There is a lot of dialogue between the teenagers. They are all “gangbangers”, reformed druggies or from the wrong side of the tracks. They speak with urban slang, and well, they ARE young teenagers. So if you don’t think you can follow that, then you should stay far away from this book.
I’m not too sure how I felt about the ending, it became predictable at one point, but I guess everything for the most part was clean and tidy.
Now the Amazon.com Kindle version I had (it was offered for Free at one point so I nabbed it) has two versions of this book on it. The released version and the first draft which wasn’t allowed to be published the way it was. The author decided to release the uncut version at the end. I did not read that version. If you read this review, and you end up with that copy of the book and you wish to read the “uncut” first draft, you should skip to the 55% mark because that’s where it beings. At some point I might pick it up again to read that version, but I can’t reread it after just finishing it.
Overall: I had a hard time putting it down when I needed to because I didn’t want to, it was really that interesting for me. It felt a little harder to get back into once I did so I wish I had read it a little faster. I’d definitely recommend this book to people who like horror movies (or books) where people are trapped somewhere, being chased, or camping stories or cannibal stories, or all of them combined *wink*