The novel begins with the Hunter family arriving at a secluded mountain cottage for a brief summer vacation. Husband Keith had an affair months ago and the marriage is on the rocks. Thankfully, his forgiving wife Maggie is using this valuable vacation time as marriage therapy in an effort to re-create a harmonious bond with him. Along with Keith and Maggie is their teen children Brice and Toni, Toni's friend Lisa and Maggie's elderly mother Vivian.
The family's first night at the cottage proves to be an eventful one. An ominous cylindrical craft lands on the property and by morning the family packs up and attempts to leave and notify the authorities. But the Hunters find themselves seemingly trapped by a clear dome-like structure surrounding the property. After attempting to smash through the dome with the car, the family realizes they now must contend with whatever is inside the craft. By nightfall, the Hunters are attacked by colorful, winged aliens that seemingly can control their minds and actions. It's this struggle between creature and man that is central to Plante's storytelling. Or, at least it should have been.
Trapped had the potential to be a fantastic survival-horror novel. Plante easily could have fallen into a George Romero scenario where the holed up family members have to board up the doors and windows while supplies begin to dwindle. The author even could have thrown a weather element in to heighten the atmosphere and isolation. Instead, he attempts to be clever and ruins what should have been an entertaining horror novel.
While there are plenty of attacks and many futile attempts to escape, the story just doesn't make any sense. These aliens apparently only come out at night, but there's no plausible explanation regarding why sunlight is their weakness. Due to this, the family just lives and breathes normally during the day – lying around and attempting to be happy during the day. I didn't really feel any sense of urgency from the characters. They don't board up any windows or doors aside from a front window that was broken by one of the creatures. They don't block the fireplace or use any real weapons other than a lamp and a fireplace poker. I hated these characters so much because of the sheer lunacy they all possessed. Just when I could celebrate one of their deaths at the hands of winged demons, the author resurrects the characters all over again.
Then there's Keith.
Due to the alien's control over Keith, they make him concentrate on sex. Because of Keith's dilemma, he immediately begins eyeing his daughter's best friend Lisa. I couldn't ascertain whether Lisa was being controlled or not, but she's begging for action, and Keith gives it to her twice – once while his daughter spies from the trees. Because of this (Keith's sex with a teen, not Toni's voyeurism), there's even more friction between Maggie and Keith. As a reader, I became so frustrated with their family drama.
Due to the author writing entire chapters from the perspective of the “mother alien”, there was no suspense or mystery to the attacks. The reader is just forced into a boring family drama with no real direction or urgency. At 344-pages, the sheer horror of this book is the likelihood that someone like me could be seduced by the intriguing, albeit terrible, cover. I was conned out of $2.95 for this pile of trash and I pray that this review serves as a warning to others: Judge a book by its cover. Trapped is terrible.
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