Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

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Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
Rumble
Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Contemporary, Verse, YA
Publication date: August 26th 2014
by Margaret K. McElderry Books

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“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada for review-

Having been introduced to the world of verse writing by Ellen’s Crank series, I was excited to read some more of her work. While the Crank series will likely always remain my favorite, Rumble was very emotional and touches on important issues.

Ever since his brother committed suicide, Matthew and his family seem like a lost cause. We’re introduced to this broken, angry teenage boy who, despite his flaws, burrows into our hearts from the very start. His brother’s death has made him extremely angry – angry at his parents for not accepting his brother’s homosexuality, at the kids that bullied him, at god for turning his back on him. It’s a very angry novel, and one that is miles deep with a level of maturity that would make this best for upper YA readers. As expected, Ellen has painted honest characters who feel incredibly authentic. There’s no sugar coating in this story. It’s raw, it’s dark, and we get a close, intimate look at Matthew’s fall into this depression brought on by guilt and blame.

One thing I was wary of when I read this blurb was the religious mentions – it sounded like an extremely religious novel which usually does not work for me, but I still had to try it anyways. For those feeling the same, don’t shy away from this book for that reason. There are religious themes in this story, yes, but it’s integrated so well in Matt’s character and larger-than-life questions that it becomes a natural part of this story. Mostly it comes from Matt’s essay that he wrote with anger in his heart, on which he denies the existence of a higher being – how can there be when there’s so much hate in the world? It does make you think, and I was really intrigued by his point-of-view, to be honest. It’s with the help of this essay that we really get to delve deep in his character and understand the rage he feels; as if he was betrayed by life itself, by his faith. And as with all good character-driven novels, Matt really grows throughout the story. He slowly comes to terms with the cards he was dealt in life. He’s a character who many will be able to relate with, and with a voice that makes you understand his perspective as well as his anger.

There are several layers of story in this novel. Aside from suicide, religion, sexuality, and Matt’s depression, we also touch on PTSD and the effects of war in Matt’s uncle’s story. This was maybe not totally necessary to the overall story, but it gave us a poignant side-story with a character who seemed to actually understand Matt. He became a sort of rock that was holding Matt together. It also ended with a sudden, tragic turn of events that I hadn’t expected. I do think the ending overall was a tad hurried, and things resolved a bit too conveniently for my taste.

I love how emotionally invested Ellen can make me with her fantastic prose and incredibly genuine characters. I also love how she tackles difficult, even controversial topics; she tells it like it is. If you see life through rose-colored glasses, this author may not be for you.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

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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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16 Responses to “Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Ellen Hopkins is one of those authors who has been on my TBR for ages.
    This book sounds really powerful and a book I would enjoy for how raw and honest it seems to be.
    I’m curious about Matthew’s character and how he would come across to me. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Giselle.
    Gorgeous review! 🙂

  2. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

    This seems like a really interesting book! As someone who definitely stays away from books with religious undertones, I’m surprisingly interested in this one. Thanks for the review!

  3. Soma Rostam

    Well, I was definitely holding off of this one because of the religious issues. But if they are not present that much, then I will definitely read this sometime soon
    GREAT review!
    Your reader,
    Soma

  4. ShootingStarsMag

    This sounds fantastic. I’ve only read one by Ellen Hopkins and it was her first adult novel, but she writes verse novels really well and I’m ready to read more by her.

  5. Fran

    I believe I am only read one book by the author and really enjoyed it. I think it was called Crank(?)
    That was obviously a while ago. I have a few different titles by this author that I had picked up from a goodwill, believe it or not. Very happy to score 4 titles by this author only one dollar a piece.
    I agreed with your comments at the end about rose-colored glasses. her subject matter may be a little hard for people to swallow. In the library by my house they took all of her books out of the young adult section and put them in the adult fiction section because a lady complained about them. They were too adult for her teenage daughter, she had said.
    Never a dull moment. Lol.

  6. Meredith

    I liked how you ended your review. I think a lot of people choose to look through rose colored glasses, because they are afraid to see the bad. I am always looking for novels that will keep my “glasses” as clear as possible so I can confront issues and say I live in reality. Awesome job with your review!

  7. Amber @ YA Indulgences

    I just heard about this book last night. Oh my gosh, the summary sounds so good. As a Christian, I like books that deal with religion and beliefs about God and such.

    I’ve never read an entire Ellen Hopkins novel, although I’ve had the chance. I never purchased the books for whatever ridiculous reason. 🙁 I have read part of Impulse though, which I really enjoyed.

    Hopkins is right up my alley, disturbing topics, Young Adult, and told in poetry? Yes please.

    I will definitely be giving this a read.

  8. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Woah, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading a Hopkins novel yet but it sounds really raw, mature, deep and emotional. I’m glad it doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of life, including suicide, sexuality and PTSD. And usually I don’t read novels with a religious undertones but here it sounds okay. Lovely review Giselle!

  9. Pili

    I still haven’t read anything by Ellen Hopkins yet, but I keep meaning too, cause of how real they seem and that I’ve already read a novel in verse and found it quite a wonderful experience! I will be sure to not discunt this one because of the religious undertones!
    Thanks for a great review, Giselle!

  10. Henrietta

    I’ve always thought Ellen Hopkins’ books are too raw and gritty for me but the larger-than-life theme here sounds really appealing… I think I’ll give this one a try. Thanks for sharing your view with us!