Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Crank
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank, Book One
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published Date: 1 October 2004
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank. (summary from Goodreads)

Crank is a powerful and disturbing story, made all the more raw by its being told in verse.

I'm always impressed by verse novels, especially those by Hopkins. There's such talent here, where every verse is like a piece of art, and it awes me. The way the verses flow into something like a picture sometimes, or how words separated on the page from an entirely new sentence - it's truly amazing. After a little while though, I often stop noticing such things as I'm completely drawn into the story. That's another great thing about verse novels, they get right to the heart of the story, into the nitty gritty stuff. There's such focus to these beautifully lyrical words. Crank is a very quick read, fast paced the entire way through and able to have a massive impact still.

The emotion of Crank is brutal. It's an honest and frightening portrayal of drug addiction, and it'll play on your mind after you finish. I rocketed though so many emotions reading this book, and very few of them were good. I was at times sad, scared, disgusted, and so very angry. Despite the flourish of the verses, this is ultimately a shocking and terrible story and it's often hard to read. The descriptions of drug use, its effects, of withdrawal, of the things Kristina is willing to do to score, of rape - this is a confronting read in all ways. Knowing that Hopkins' family actually went through something like this is the saddest. What made it harder for me to read Crank is that I rarely felt sympathy for Kristina. Her choices and her attitude frustrated me and so much of the anger I felt is geared toward her. I do feel for some of the awful things she goes through, but I still couldn't get past that fury. Every time I felt even a little hopeful Kristina would stomp all over it. In this way, Hopkins has really evoked that feeling of being on the outside looking in, being a family member or friend losing someone to this destructive monster.

It's truly terrible, and Hopkins portrays it in such a moving way. Crank is an impressive and haunting read. 



  1. Awesome review. I love Ellen Hopkins. I read Smoke a few weeks ago, and I’m going to read Tilt sometime this summer. I’ve been avoiding Crank because I usually don’t like books about drug addiction, but I’ll probably end up reading it eventually.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks, AJ. I've only read a couple of Hopkins' books previously and quite a few years ago. It's amazing what she does. I avoided Crank too for the same reason, but a challenge I took part in required a book about drugs, so it seemed time. I'm not sure if I'll be able to bring myself to read the last two in the series though. I'm looking forward to reading her other books instead! :-)