Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

i know i said i'd get this out on saturday. yeah. well. i forgot i didn't have a life. (or maybe i did, this weekend, and that was the problem?) anyway, here it is! and without fail, the fault in our stars will be out tomorrow. 

also, if you've left me a comment in the last four or five days, i have read and loved it.  and i will reply to it soon.  now that my life is less of a mess. 

title:  Crank

author: Ellen Hopkins

pages: 544

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-0689865190

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for: Fans of poetry. Teenagers.  Lost people.  Teachers.  Parents.  Those looking for a unique take on fiction

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina -- she's fearless.

Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul -- her life.

the basics
I loved this book.  Then I became bored with it.  Then I was sucked in and couldn't stop reading until the abrupt, haunting end.  I've never read a book in blank verse.  Or in verse, unless you count things like Beowulf.  The style made it difficult to keep the story at first.  However, before I realized it, the writing had wrapped itself around my brain.  It was beautiful, detailed, layered with so many meanings that I feel I'd learn more on a second, even third, read.  And I kept up with the plot much better when I read in one sitting instead of in pieces before bed.  This is a fantastically realistic book, gritty and dark.  It stays with you.

plot . 5/5
There are cliche elements.  Or so it would seem.  Girl gets hooked on drugs and bad boys?  Yeah, I've seen it before.  What I haven't seen is the authenticity with which Hopkins portrays these issues.  I could believe this exact story had happened, somewhere.  There's no moralistic tragic ending; no perfect fairy tale redemption.  The consequences are real; the happenings are severe, but you can feel them building for so long that they don't feel cheap.  Hopkins tackles very sensitive issues (drug abuse, suicide, rape, etc.) with a raw honesty that neither belittles nor sensationalizes them.  It's just true.

concept . 5/5
Holy cheese and crackers.  I've never read a prettier depiction of terrible, terrible events.  The addition of poetry to young adult fiction is absolutely brilliant.  More on that later.  It seems like a very straightforward drug story; it's anything but.  The addition of the Kristina / Bree dual personality is a great twist.  It makes this story unique.  It personalizes the drug self as Bree, perfectly showing how divided Kristina is.  How shattered.  It also allows for complex relationships with the other characters.

characters . 4/5
I think I would have liked a little more background on Kristina.  I just couldn't see the girl in my head as someone who would try meth, even if a really cute boy offered some to her.  At least not so quickly.  However, as the book went on, I grew to understand her more and she made more sense.  I loved Chase.  Ironically, he was one of the most caring characters in this book, even though he was enabling her.  Even the side characters feel realistic--even the pretty typical ones like Brendan.

style . 5/5
It took me a while to love it, but once I did, it was forever kind of love.  (Aka, I need to get my hands on the other Hopkins books because I am addicted to them!  Too soon?  Yeah, I know, I'm going to hell.)  The verse is such a clever form.  My favorite pages were those where the final words / phrases were separated from the main sentences.  So basically, you could read those words with the other parts and get one meaning, or read those words by themselves and get another, related meaning.  It added so many layers to this story and made it a really fun read.  I can't gush enough about what Hopkins does with language.  I'm not a huge blank verse fan, but she makes me love it.  Great sound sense.  Great internal rhyme.  Love love love.

mechanics . 5/5
Sometimes the voice felt a little too flowery, but mostly it worked.  Oh, and the cover is perfect.  Very few covers match their subject matter so perfectly.  I think "monster" as a metaphor was just used too many times.  I got it.  I'd like a little variation (or minimizing) of euphemisms.

take home message
A harrowing tale of one teen's struggle to reclaim her life from the "monster" crystal meth, and the dark path it has shown her.

Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


  1. This is one of my all-time favourite books. I read this back in grade 10, and have been hooked on Ellen Hopkins writing since. The way she brings these issues to life is amazing!

    1. It took me ages to read it, but I'm so glad I did. I can't wait to read more! I agree completely.

  2. In verse? Anyway, I really am loving this social relevant trend that most YA Contemporary books are now about. I think she's the one who also wrote Tilt? That book came highly recommended and I'm waiting for my turn at the library to read it.

    Love your review.
    Talk Supe
    Reader Tribute

    1. Yep, the whole book is a story in poetry. She did write Tilt, but I haven't read it yet. I agree on the trend...this month I'm featuring almost exclusively socially relevant books. thanks for stopping by!