Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

(Yeah, I'm going to normal titles now. The corny ones cause my brain much pain when I try to think them up and they're just plain silly. I'm nearly seventeen now! I suppose it's time to grow up. I apologize if you liked them.)

Title: Crank
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 5th, 2004
Pages: 537 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Borrowed it from my Newspaper teacher

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.


Kristina Snow has only ever been a good girl. Good grades, good behavior, never associated with the wrong crowd--she doesn't take after her drug addict father at all. Or does she? When she goes to visit him due to a court order, her alter ego Bree, a girl who is fearless and her own person, comes out to play and together, they take on the monster: crank, or meth, or any of the million names you can call it. When she returns home to Reno, the addiction she picked up in Albuquerque comes back with her. School, her old friends, and her family suddenly become unimportant to her--all that matters is crank: the connections she must make to get it, the rush she gets from it, and the people she meets because of it.

Before August, I had no idea who Ellen Hopkins was and had not heard of her books. At that time, I heard about the incident where she was uninvited from the Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Texas because a librarian and some parents protested it. I wanted to see what they were fussing about, but it took me until now to get ahold of one of her books because it lingered in the back of my mind. I can now say I have read an Ellen Hopkins book and plan to read many more.

The verse prose of the book could put a reader off at first, but the story takes hold fast and the form it comes to the reader in no longer matters. Personally, I believe that this story has more impact written in the poetic form it appears in than in the conventional form of most novels. The reader is forced to pay attention to exactly what they're reading because the form changes all over the place. This unusual form (which takes up much less page space than the usual novel) and the fast pace make Crank a novel someone can dive right into and not surface from until they read the last page.

Not only is Ellen Hopkins a wonderful writer, but she is also a wonderful storyteller: using experience gained in her own life from when her daughter was addicted to crank, she tells the tragic story of a girl who lost herself to drugs in about six months and makes the reader care. Her descent from good child to drug user to drug dealer is a terrifying one and despite not ever being an addict herself, Hopkins captures Kristina's thoughts perfectly and if I am to believe other reviewers, accurately; I have seen many readers who formerly used crank/meth comment on just how realistic the text is. It appears that Hopkins had many talks with her daughter about what her experience was like.

People who demand that every little thing is detailed, down to the stains on the carpet and the poster on the wall in a room, might be annoyed by this book. All of the detail is concentrated inwards on Kristina's experience with crank and what it is turning her into. Despite the lack of details in most situations (one of the few settings detailed well is Kristina's room), the scenes are easily pictured within the mind. Kristina spouts just enough about what is around her for the reader to put the picture together and that is it. Little else is said because why would she care about that? She's more concerned with the drugs.

Reading Crank, I wondered what this kind of novel might have done for a former friend of mine named Shelby. We were best friends when we were younger and then she went away to a private school for eight years. The next time I saw her, she was hooked on all sorts of drugs due to her family, all of whom are a special kind of messed up. I heard her talk about doing ecstasy, just as Kristina does in this book, acid, she smoked marijuana at our bus stop (which is pretty much my mailbox) one morning before school... She even overdosed at school once and was in the hospital for a few days. Sixteen years old and a drug addict, just like Kristina. She recently moved away and we haven't kept contact. How many children has this author and this book helped? Who knows. Maybe if she'd had a book like this, it could have helped her too.

Now I'm wondering what took me so long to read an Ellen Hopkins book. I wish I could go pick up the sequels Glass and Fallout right now, but it's Christmas and I don't exactly have the money at the moment. Good thing my birthday is so close! After that, I'll advance onto Ellen's other novels, written in the same prose form and tackling the same issues. Even if books about drugs make you uncomfortable the way they way they do me, get your hands on this book and read it if you haven't already done so. The time you spend reading this book with be nothing but worth it.

5 stars!

What am I reading next?: I have no clue. I have no new books left and I don't plan to start any old ones since I'll be getting more books in two days. My next post will be about what books you can expect me to review in the future.