My Catchphrases

Monday, 21 June 2010

Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Synopsis: From Amazon

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: a gifted student, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is a total opposite to Kristina - she's fearless. Through a boy she meets, Bree is introduced to the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul and, ultimately, her life.

I pushed this one up to the top of my reading pile after the amazing interview with the author Ellen Hopkins that Jenny at Wondrous Reads did (please click the link to read the interview).

For those of you that aren't aware this is a verse novel, it is visually dynamic with an intense pace and powerful imagery.

Written in 1st person narrative but from a split personality persona. The 1st being the person that is Kristina (without drugs) the 2nd is the person she becomes, Bree (with drugs). I could totally relate to this, I have seen addiction within my own family (alcohol not drugs but I am assuming that addiction is the same no matter the substance) and it really is as if that person has been inhabited by someone else. Generally a much nastier person than the one they are at heart.

It gives a brutally honest depiction of addiction, I could actually feel my stomach tightening as I was reading it, literally my stomach dropped and my heart ached. As a parent this is one of the things that you worry about, for me this was super scary stuff. It showed how easy it is for one 'little' decision to affect/change the rest of your life. I did actually sympathise with Kristina, without the drugs she realised that her father wasn't the person he should be, the grass is not greener on the other side, the decisions her mother made where in the interest of the whole family and not an act of selfishness, and that rules are there for a very good reason. However, the addiction takes hold so quickly that the lucid moments were less frequent, the need for a 'fix' was all consuming.

The portrayal of Kristina's father left me wondering as to whether there is a predisposition to addiction if it is already in the family.

The writing is rhythmic and compelling, it literally makes pictures on the page. I have to admit I didn't actually notice this until about half way through the book as I was too engrossed in the story.

The imagery can be interpreted in a number of ways within the plot adding depth without having to write it out word for word. The plot has multi-layers dealing with some very sensitive subjects (discovering sexuality/rape/drugs/depravity) all with amazing insight and frightening reality.

I found the religious parallel with naming the initial male protagonist Adam and the story of the Garden of Eden with references within the narrative to the book of Genesis truly ingenious. While the amazing use of irony with the reference to The Jerry Springer Show made me LOL.

What really stood out for me is how truly easy it is to become addicted. I think this book should be given to drug/guidance counsellors. I would even go so far as to say that it should be required reading for older teens in order to prevent them even trying drugs. An amazing (if frightening) book that really stays in your mind long after you have closed the pages.

The BookDepository


  1. I have heard of this, but not in detail before. Now I am really interested!

  2. I loved this book when I read it a few years ago!

  3. Wow Emma, brilliant review! I'm so glad you liked it, and I agree it's a scary but powerful novel.

    I hope you'll read more by Ellen Hopkins - Glass is especially good, and is still my favourite. :)

  4. Ooh. Sounds amazing. Wish her books were more widely available :(


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