I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 26th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Verse, YA
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
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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.
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.
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