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The Trap by John Smelcer
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The Trap

by John Smelcer

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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 wonderful writing made up for a lot of the negative opinions I have towards the plot and underdeveloped characters. ( )
  charlottejones952 | Sep 2, 2013 |
I don't like it because its boring and its very draged out. ( )
  kdenis | Sep 29, 2010 |
The Columbus Metropolitan Library offers recommendations by the librarians on its web site and that was how I heard of The Trap.

The chapters alternate between Albert and Johnny. Johnny is around seventeen years old and is faced with the dilemma of trusting his instincts and listening to his elders. He recognizes he will have to decide whether or not to use his instincts later when deciding what to do about his future but the cold winter dictates a quick decision.

The reader gets caught up in the story and wants a happy ending. Details make it easy for the reader to imagine how cold it is. It can get quite cold in Ohio but never -60. Smelcer uses many interesting facts throughout the story such as different coping methods for getting transportation to start when it’s cold. Though the novel is geared towards a teenage audience, it’s appropriate for adults too.

Full review available at http://www.amberstults.com/?p=1444. ( )
  astults | Jul 6, 2009 |
Thought this was an excellent read.
  nzlibrarygirl | Sep 28, 2008 |
This is the story of Johnny Least-Weasel and his grandfather Albert who are Native Americans living in Alaska. When Albert doesn't come home from checking his traplines, the responsibility of finding him falls on Johnny. The characters in this book are multifaceted and the situations are very dramatic. This book is the perfect subject for a book discussion on themes such as survival in the wild, family relationships and responsibilities, Native American culture, and tradition versus change. ( )
1 vote stefferjo | Apr 18, 2008 |
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Book description
Seven-Teen year old Johnny and his stubborn old grandfather Albert live up in the north. He keeps checking his traplines even though everybody else stopped checking them years ago. But Albert has been setting out and checking his traplines for years by himself out in the wilderness. Nothing has ever went wrong on that path that he knows so well. When Albert sets out on the trail to check his traplines, he doesnt come back home. With the temperatures steadily plummiting, Johnny doesnt know whether to trust his grandfather Albert or trust his gut instinct!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805079394, Hardcover)

A gripping wilderness adventure and survival story
 
It was getting colder. Johnny pulled the fur-lined hood of his parka over his head and walked towards his own cabin with the sound of snow crunching beneath his boots.

"He should be back tomorrow," he thought, as a star raced across the sky just below the North Star.

"He should be back tomorrow for sure."
 
Seventeen-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel knows that his grandfather Albert is a stubborn old man and won't stop checking his own traplines even though other men his age stopped doing so years ago. But Albert Least-Weasel has been running traplines in the Alaskan wilderness alone for the past sixty years. Nothing has ever gone wrong on the trail he knows so well.

When Albert doesn't come back from checking his traps, with the temperature steadily plummeting, Johnny must decide quickly whether to trust his grandfather or his own instincts.

Written in alternating chapters that relate the parallel stories of Johnny and his grandfather, this novel poignantly addresses the hardships of life in the far north, suggesting that the most dangerous traps need not be made of steel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In alternating chapters, seventeen-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel, who is better known for brains than brawn, worries about his missing grandfather, and the grandfather, Albert Least-Weasel, struggles to survive, caught in his own steel trap in the Alaskan winter.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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