Thursday, January 02, 2014

Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

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Review: Crank by Ellen HopkinsCrank by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 6th 2013 (Paperback)
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Buy on Amazon

Life was good
before I met the monster.

After, life was great,
At least for a little while.

Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.

Then, Kristina meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul, and her life.

An immensely powerful book, Crank brings us a heartbreaking downfall into drug addiction. Knowing Ellen personally experienced much of this story gives it even more of an emotional pull, as we learn that this is based on Ellen’s own daughter’s story.

I’m still quite new to verse novels so it did take me a good 100 pages (which took like 20 mins to read, really – you can fly through verse books in no time) to get comfortable with the writing style. Before that I kept concentrating on how I was supposed to read it: vertical first or not? For instance. I soon realized it didn’t matter. Plus, by then, I was so into it I wasn’t even paying attention to that at all, it had me completely engrossed. Deciding to write such a story in verse was brilliant, however. It turns it into an even more tragic tale, seeing as it leaves no room for sugar coating or frivolous sidetracking. It gives us a blunt, ugly, and completely raw foray into addiction. If you’re hesitant to read verse novels, you should force yourself to give one a try. No one is less of a poetry fan as I am – when we studied it briefly in high school, everyone seemed to find such complexity in the meaning of a single verse when I was staring at it wide-eyed thinking for sure they had not read the same thing I just had. With that said, I’m glad that I went outside my comfort zone to try a verse novel. Crank being only my second. They offer something entirely potent from the candid nature of their storytelling. Furthermore, some of the poems in Crank are stylized in such a mesmerizing way, it makes reading it an experience like no other.

Crank is not a pretty story; it’s very much the opposite. No addiction of any kind is ever pretty. This novel portrays the decent into a drug infested haze in the most realistic of ways. We have a protagonist, here, who becomes captive of what she refers to as the monster. She even develops an alter-ego, kind of as a way to separate herself and stay in denial. We see her delude herself into believing that she is still in control, that she is not imprisoned by her addiction. She will piss you off to no end, yet you will likely still feel sympathy towards her. We see the downward spiral she is running towards, while helpless to stop it. It’s heartbreaking, really. She’s blind to its impact on her own mind and body, not to mention her family. Addiction affects much more than just the person affected, and this book also portrays how, more often than not, friends and family are just as much in denial as the addict herself. Thinking up excuses for them, not wanting to admit that something is seriously wrong.

Poignant and completely unforgettable, Crank is an eye-opening story that anyone touched by addiction should read. It shows us the monstrous, but entirely realistic, road to drug addiction.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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22 Responses to “Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins”

  1. Pili

    I guess this one would be a very tough first verse novel, but I am quite intrigued about the idea of a full novel in verse.
    Addiction is quite the most dangerous monster and it can take many faces, some addictions can be more harmful than others, but any addiction taken to the extreme can be equally bad!

  2. Kendra

    I absolutely love Ellen Hopkin. Crank was my first introduction to her and I am hooked. I love that she deals with real topics and doesn’t shy away from them.

  3. June @ Sunshine Reviews

    I’m not really keen with verse novels, the first one I read was The Weight Of Water by Sarah Crossan, and I didn’t really like it because it didn’t pull me in since it was in verses. But I might give this one a try 🙂 Great review Giselle 😀

  4. Kate- Midnightbookgirl

    Prior to reading Ellen Hopkins is only read one verse novel- Sharp Teeth. I had really enjoyed that book, but I wasn’t sold on verse yet, but Hopkins completely won me over. I love that she uses such a beautiful format to tell stories that show the worse situations of life.

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m not much of a verse reader either, but I’ve heard fantastic things about Ellen Hopkins’ stories.
    Books about drug addictions are always hard to read and it seems like the author really did a good job with it. Plus, since she herself went through such issues must have made the book even more realistic. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Giselle.
    Lovely review!

  6. Maya

    I think I’ve only read one or two verse novels before but I liked them and I’d definitely read more. I hadn’t heard of Crank before but I’ll look it up, and thanks for the review!

  7. Kristie

    I love this book! It’s such a sad beautiful story. I read the trilogy one weekend at the cabin. Like you said above it doesn’t take long to read them. She’s my first verse author. I am not sure if I’ll explore other authors, but I keep going back to her when I need a fix.

  8. Ellen Hopkins

    Many thanks for the thoughtful review. So happy you’ve given verse a try. It can be quite a powerful storytelling format. I’m currently writing an adult novel in prose, and I can tell you that writing in verse is much more exacting.

  9. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    I’m not much of a poetry fan either, and I enjoyed Crank. I liked that it was so emotional. You’re right that there wasn’t much sugarcoating, it was just the essence of what was happening. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

  10. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I rarely ever read verse books, and I totally agree with what you said about poetry. I can never really get the true meaning behind each line; it’s usually one of those things where I get the general idea but can never dissect an individual line as deeply as everyone else can. However, it still sounds like I would really enjoy this book like you because of how tragic the story is. The verse aspect of the book also seems to add to the overall reading experience. Fantastic review, Giselle! I’m glad that you loved this one so much <33

  11. Nova Lee @ Out of Time

    I’m so excited to read this book. Ahem… once I clear out my TBR shelf. I have an oddly deep connection with all books with these kinds of themes. Even though I haven’t experienced this stuff, I connect with the feeling of addiction as self-hatred and just wanting to stop. I really want to read this and knowing you liked it is even better! <333

  12. Abbe Hinder

    Oh man! I knew it was a great book once I put it on hold! I’ll have to pick this one up again because of your review.I just love verse books. Lovely review!

  13. Chel

    The reasons why I want to read this book are the very reasons why I’m hesitating, meh. I’ve always wanted to read novels in verse format but I always feel like I’ll never like them. Also, I’m not fond of heavy drama but I’m curious about this since this is somewhat based in real life. But like you said, I’ll need to force myself into reading this if I really want to try those things out.

  14. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    This series sounds really gritty but a necessary read! I think I may try it in a few years time. Going out of your comfort zone and reading a book can sometimes lead to discovering some really good reads that may even be your favourites!

    Fab review as always, Giselle! <33

  15. Bonnie

    This one was an extremely tough story (the whole trilogy is really) and I think doing it in verse made it a lot easier for me, personally, to swallow. Love, love, love Hopkins writing. So glad you enjoyed this! Although I think that’s probably the wrong word choice. 🙂

  16. Chelsea W

    I really don’t know why, but I feel like I’m…cheating myself?…when I read any other verse book. With Ellen Hopkins, I feel satisfied. More than satisfied, obviously, since I’ve read all but once of her books and have enjoyed most of them. They are sometimes gritty, but the books’ issues are dealt with by a strong hand and a beautiful voice. That’s why I recommend them to YA readers–especially the books dealing with drugs. Crank especially resonated with me because I live in an area that deals with a lot of meth, and there are people important to me who have either dealt in the past with addiction or still do. I think this was actually on the Banned Books list at one time, if I’m not mistaken? To me, that just shows how real it is…