Review of Trapped – Visual Adaptation

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Trapped is the first visual adaptation of a story by Dean Koontz written in 1989. Published in 1992 by Eclipse it is a short story adapted by horror writer Edward Gorman and illustrated by Anthony Bilau. Think comics with a glossy card cover and brightly coloured glossy pages and you might be able to picture the effect.

Caught in the pool of light from my bedside lamp I could see the creature staring at me. The malevolent expression on the big white rat’s face was enough to make me shudder – or was that caused by the cold I wondered as I snuggled further into my bedcovers. On further inspection I could see that the rat on the front cover of the book looked cute rather than scary, especially as it’s red eyes look crossed.

The story is quite simple. Meg and her 10-year-old son Tommy are driving home from the doctor’s office in a snow blizzard. Tommy has broken his leg and both are still mourning the death of his father. They pass the curve where a drunk driver crashing into and killed his father and you feel sorry for the widow and her son. They come to a road block and their car is checked over by men carrying rifles. Meg suspects that they are looking for bombs when really 8 white rats have escaped from a laboratory.

They reach their farmhouse unscathed but it isn’t long before they realise that they have aggressive furry visitors. These are not ordinary rats, they are very clever as Meg realises after baiting some traps with Warfarin. Not long afterwards she finds the traps sprung, no trapped rats and the Warfarin pellets have been moved. Deposited in a box of All Bran cereals, the rats have tried to turn the tables on them.

Meg and Tommy can’t escape in the car because the rats immobilise it and they don’t think about the telephone until it’s too late. They are alone in the middle of nowhere and the snow is deep. Tommy is wearing a pot on his leg and can’t get far under his own steam. Meg tries to pull him on a sledge but she has doubts that she will be able to reach the road. Will they escape or will the rats get them?

I haven’t read the original story but guess that chunks were taken out during the adaptation to enable the illustrations to work on the reader’s imagination. It didn’t work for me, the story wasn’t scary, not many twists and turns, little suspense and the ending was very predictable. Perhaps it was better in its original form, Dean Koontz isn’t usually so predictable.

The illustrations are good if you look at them on their own but I found them a garish distraction while reading the story. On some pages the story seemed disjointed making you rely on the pictures more than I liked to get the drift of the tale. I’m not used to reading comics so perhaps that’s why I found the pictures distracting rather than an enjoyable addition.

It was less than 30 minutes before I could snuggle down further in my bed, book finished and sure that I wouldn’t have any nightmares. I got my copy from the library but I doubt if I’d have been happy at paying the new price of £6.99 on Amazon if I had got it for the story alone. I was curious to see an illustrated Dean Koontz story and have spent quite some time poring over some of the individual illustrations since finishing the story, which has given me some enjoyment of the book.

As it’s hard to find much information about this book on the internet, unusual for anything of Dean Koontz I wonder if Trapped will become a collectors item in years to come and worth investing in a copy. I did find a site where the original artwork is up for sale by the page and for $60 each.

I’ll end by saying that I was disappointed in the storyline. Rare for something by Dean Koontz, but it is an adaptation by another writer and perhaps it might have been better if Dean had adapted it himself. Trapped is too predictable to read again but at least my curiosity has been satisfied.

If you would like to read this book click on Trapped

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