The Trap

The Trap by Alan Gibbons

MI5 agent, Kate, receives a tip-off about an asset, who seems too good to be true. Amir and Nasima are trying to make friends at their new school but struggling to keep a terrible secret. A group of jihadists are planning something. And behind it all stands Majid. Brother. Son. Hero. Terrorist.

Spanning Iraq, Syria and England, THE TRAP grapples with one of the greatest challenges of our time.


Amber (Chailey)

28th November 2017 at 8:39 pm

Amber (Chailey):

The trap was very fast paced which I enjoyed as it suited the subject of the book. However, it was difficult to understand at times and at those points I lost track of the story line which made me confused. For young people I also believe that it was quite heavy in the way that it was described and the language that was used throughout the book. Overall, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed the others but that was only my opinion and others could definitely enjoy it.

Annabel Bassett- Sir Robert Woodard Academy

27th November 2017 at 5:42 pm

Annabel (SRWA):

I thought that The Trap was an action-filled book. It had lots of different scenes taking place: some in the past and some in the present. It was a good book because it was very current to what is going on today(e.g: racism, terrorism and war). I thought Majid was a very brave character who took risks throughout the novel. Overall the book was very interesting and helped me to understand what is going on today.

Jess, Year 10 (Causeway School)

24th November 2017 at 10:39 am

Jess (Causeway) Year 10:

A really good book. it gives you an insight to how terrorists think and sometimes why they do what they do. Powerful. Really enjoyed it.

Sam W (Chailey)

21st November 2017 at 8:17 pm

Sam (Chailey):

My feelings on this book are quite mixed. On one hand, I found the story and the idea behind it very interesting because the of way the author made Muslim extremism into a book about a family whose life had been vastly influenced because one of the brothers became a Muslim extremist. I found this clever because when people think of who is effected by Muslim extremists they normally think about the families who are killed or injured, but the subject the author chose is not often thought of as a big problem.

However. i found the book lacked in information and background detail on the characters which meant that the book felt slightly incomplete at parts. I found that at the end of the book it rushed slightly and what had high potential was let down a bit by the lack of information and rushed chapters. On the other hand, some people may like the book if they are not a great reader, or they just want a quick read.

francesca (srwa)

13th November 2017 at 10:55 am

Francesca (SRWA):

At the beginning of this book, I thought it was boring because it was hard to read. But, as the story went on, I realised how the chapters worked and I enjoyed it more. It is a fast-paced, thrilling story that is fun to read.


16th October 2017 at 5:40 pm

Khadijah (Ratton):

The Trap is a great book including events that happened in terrorism. It goes on about Majid’s past and how he changed when he realised what he was doing was wrong. It shows how people are lured into terrorism believing they’re doing something right when they’re not but shows how they can get out of it and change. I rate this book 8/10.

Sam (Ratton)

15th October 2017 at 4:01 pm

Sam (Ratton):

Shedding light on why poor souls go through with acts of terrorism and how it rips apart families, Gibbons creates convincing characters and realistic scenarios. It’s powerful and fast paced, hardly giving you a chance to breathe, much like the characters presented.
Gibbons accurately represents Islamophobia and racism in Great Britain’s not-so-great streets. Gripping and thrilling, I totally recommend this book (8/10)

Elisha – Year 9 Casueway School

13th October 2017 at 1:25 pm

Elisha (Causeway) Year 9:

In my opinion ‘The Trap’ was a very confusing book due to the fact of everything that happened. For me, near the end was the best part because it was very dramatic.

The Trap is just one of those books that have a slow start to them and then it gradually gets better throughout the story.

If you ask me, I would recommend this book to people with a lot of patience and who can wrap their head around disgusting things.

    Sarah Todd (Chailey)

    4th November 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Sarah (Chailey):

    I agree. I found that I had to concentrate very hard, in order to understand the story line of The Trap. There were parts that interested me, but it was definitely the end of the story that captured my attention most. However, I found the last pages of the book disappointing, although I understand that the reader was perhaps trying to portray what happens in other peoples lives. The descriptions in this book made me feel as if I was there with them, which – if you like this type of genre – is thrilling and exciting.

Caitlin B

11th October 2017 at 1:10 pm

Caitlin (Lingfield):

I much enjoyed reading the Trap as it addresses modern issues and explains why people would go to help ISIS, which I had never understood before. It is engaging and as long you keep checking back at the start for names but it did become more gripping and made more sense as you went through the book. However I did not feel the ending chapter was very realistic and was a tiny bit forced – we suspect he might make a sequel.


11th October 2017 at 1:08 pm

Hannah (Lingfield):

I thought that The Trap was a very confusing book. I personally didn’t like how the book flashbacked and alternated between the past and present. The last chapter, made more sense. The ending really disappointed me. I think that there could be a potential sequel. I think that it would make more sense if you knew more about terrorism. I would recommend this book to 11-14 year olds.


11th October 2017 at 1:06 pm

Sophie (Lingfield):

I found this book boring and confusing at the start but throughout the book it started to make sense I really liked the last chapter; however the last paragraph I feel was slightly anticlimactic.


10th October 2017 at 2:19 pm

Aoibh (Mayfield) Year 10:

This is a fast-paced thriller showing the indoctrination of a young Muslim man in a new light. Peculiar to `The Trap`, rather than showing Muslim extremism from a victim’s perspective, we follow two brothers Amir and Majid Sarwar who both struggle to do what is right, under different circumstances. I found this book very sobering, as hearing the stories of a minority who are often alienated especially in western society, gave me a whole new perspective on vulnerability and terrorists without over dramatizing a serious problem in our modern world. I found it a very immersive and powerful read because of how relevant the topic is and because ultimately, this book was about family, and how far people are willing to go for love. I rate this 8/10.

Sophia Clyde

24th September 2017 at 10:09 pm

Sophia (Roedean):

‘The Trap’ is a very intriguing book based on the story of a young man called Majid who meets a local gang member named Bashir. Bashir eventually manipulates Majid into becoming part of the ongoing Syrian war with the intentions of revenge rather than peace. Majid gets put in a position in which he risks his life numerous times and by doing this he discovers a lot about himself and about the people around him.

This book raises a very important concern in modern society as it relates to global issues of acceptance and diversity towards different cultures. Although the book covers topics such as racism and extremism, the author, Alan Gibbons makes the link between these issues and the experience off a character and his family. This puts into perspective what it’s like to be living in modern London, England as a Muslim and also creates a fascinating book about the lives of these people.

During parts of this book, I was captivated and couldn’t put the book down however; I felt the story line took a while before it got particularly exciting. I would definitely recommend this book but to older viewers as some of the imagery is a bit disturbing and would not be suitable for younger readers.

Issy (Roedean) Year 8

20th September 2017 at 12:17 pm

Issy (Roedean) Year 8:

The Trap is a well-written, fast-paced thrilling book. The book varies between the past, the present and flashbacks and has short snappy chapters.
The characters in this book are very realistic. It shows how police forces work with MI5 and Agents to stop terrorist attacks. It is about a religious family living in London who have been personally affected by terrorism.
I found this book quite confusing at the start; it is confusing if you don’t know much about terrorism, religion, racism, jihad etc. I think it is a very relevant book to read at the moment with everything happening in London, Manchester and Paris. It is a great book that will be enjoyed by teen/young adult readers.

Priya (Roedean) Year 9

20th September 2017 at 11:25 am

Priya (Roedean) Year 9:

The Trap is a short action novel that tells the story of the aftermath of a young man going off to Syria to join Islamic State, and the effect it has on his family, particularly his younger brother, Amir. But it is more than that, as we learn very quickly that this man, Majid, is in fact still alive and now working for MI5, as a double agent against his previous boss (who influenced him to join Islamic State), Bashir Mirza. But his family don’t know this, and still believe that he’s dead.

Before I review this fully, I would like to say that I have read books by Alan Gibbons before and was lucky enough to meet him at my last school where he came and gave a presentation and a signing, and I do not think that this book was as good as some of his others. The use of literary devices was lacking, and the vocabulary wasn’t incredibly exciting. Maybe I didn’t like this one so much purely because I can’t relate to what the characters go through in the book, whilst others who have experienced the sort of thing that this book deals with might find it more enticing as it is relatable to them.

The story switches between the past and the present. The present focuses on how the Sarwar family have been coping after hearing of their son (Majid) dying as a member of Islamic State, and Majid’s daring mission to prevent a possible attack in England, including the views of his boss, head of security at MI5, Kate.
As for the family, the Sarwars have moved from place to place since Majid ‘brought shame upon the family’ as Naveed Sarwar, father and husband of the family put it. We see how the younger Sarwar children, 16 year old twins Nasima and Amir have coped with this. Amir is far worse off, not trying to make friends at any new schools they go to, and being the subject of horrible teasing purely for the fact he is a Muslim. He reacts to this strongly, and who can blame him?

There are chapters set in the past, a few of which that give us insight to the horrors of the fighting in Syria between ISIS and President Bashar Al-Assad, and the slaughter of innocent men, women and children, and Majid’s realisation that this is not what he came for. We also see glimpses into him and his friends being manipulated by Bashir Mirza, who at first Majid is against, his friends more eager to drink up every word this dangerous man says, but eventually is won over and in these flashbacks we see him becoming more and more detached from his family before he finally leaves for Syria.

These switches between the past and present make the book more exciting, as every time we come across a chapter labelled ‘The Past’, we unpeel a bit more of the characters’ backstory, and come to a greater understanding of the story. Only by the very end do we fully understand the whole chain of events that lead to the conclusion of the story.

The book focuses on very relevant topics, such as terrorism, and the hostility and racism against Muslims in the UK. It is important that topics like these are discussed in books for young people like The Trap, as terrorism is always on the news , particularly the terrorist group Islamic State (the one that is focused on in this story). These stories about extremist Muslim groups have brought many misconceptions about Islam as a whole, and hostility towards Muslims in UK is now a big issue. It is important that young people from other religions understand the perspective of those affected by this stigma, which is why it is brilliant that writers like Gibbons are raising awareness of this through books aimed at the demographic that has the power to make or break the future of our world.

I don’t think the actual writing was particularly captivating (as I mentioned earlier). I think the emphasis was more on the plot line and character development. However, the punctuation used throughout the story and the way the pace quickens during fast-paced action scenes to display the speed of the scene conveys the mood and the theme of the story nicely.

Overall, I think this book is important in raising awareness of major issues and current affairs, and still has the action and excitement to be interesting to a young audience. However, although there is nothing very graphic, some scenes do involve violence, and even murder, so I would definitely only recommend this to older readers, as it could be quite upsetting.

Molly (Roedean)

6th September 2017 at 8:46 pm

Molly (Roedean):

It is interesting how the book shows the other side of this topical subject through this story about a family

Scarlett (Roedean)

13th July 2017 at 11:09 am

Scarlett (Roedean):

The Trap is a thrilling book featuring frightening real-life events like terrorism. It is sad yet gripping about how terrorism can ruin a family. Majid the main character left his family behind to become a follower of Bashir, an extreme Muslim. You will learn about Majid’s past and present and how he becomes a hero returning to his family. I recommend this book for 11-13 year olds and I rate it a 7/10.

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