Book Review: Crank

Title/Author:  Crank by Ellen Hopkins
(Crank #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Poetry, Realistic Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Published:  October 1st, 2004 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Paperback, 537 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I have only heard great things about this novel and Ellen Hopkins as a writer, and as she is visiting YALLFest this year, I wanted to read her stuff!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “This is a story about a monster. Not a dragon or a mythological beast, but a very real, very destructive monster–crystal meth–that takes hold of seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow and transforms her into her reckless alter-ego Bree. Based on her own daughter’s addiction to crystal meth, Ellen Hopkins’ novel-in-verse is a vivid, transfixing look into teenage drug use. Told in Kristina’s voice, it provides a realistic portrayal of the tortured logic of an addict.”

My Review of this Work:

I had heard great things about this novel before I had picked it up.  But I was honestly not expecting the sheer brilliance that this rather fat paperback book held within its pages.  Crank is the lyrical story of Kristina Snow’s fall into the dark world of drug [ab]use and the development of her other side of the coin, Bree.

I cannot even begin to tell you just how brilliant Ellen Hopkins is.  This entire novel is told in verse form, which allows for a more emotional interpretation of the story by the interpretive nature of poetry.  From the craft perspective, her poetry is just mindblowing–it has interpolated poetry!  She crafts poems within her poems, and that honestly just blows my mind!  To be able to tell a story while creating poetry within poetry is just on a higher level than anything I have seen in a very long time.  The talent that it takes to structure verse in this way is off the charts amazing.  To give you all an example of what I am talking about:

(From page 2)

So you want to know all
about me. Who

I am.

What chance meeting of
brush and canvas painted

the face

you see? What made me
despise the girl

in the mirror

enough to transform her,
turn her into a stranger,

only not.

If you read it all, it is a poem.  If you just read the right hand column, it is a poem too.  THAT IS JUST CRAZY!  And all 537 pages exhibit this kind of unmatched talent! I am truly impressed with Ellen Hopkins’ ability to write.

This novel is not an easy read.  It is a quick 537 page read because it is all written in verse, but the subject matter addressed in this book is both emotionally draining and thought provoking.  Kristina/Bree goes through a lot in the months that this novel covers.  She tries drugs for the first time and gets hooked.  She lies to her family and abandons her friends.  She falls for the wrong guys.  She is raped.  She loses her sense of self, and her sense of reality is questionable.  This is not an easy read at all.  I feel like I have to warn readers extra because of the emotional intensity of this story.

Ellen Hopkins exhibits her talents at writing, at storytelling, and at invoking emotion from her readers, and that probably comes from her personal connection to this truth-based fictional story.  This is one of those books I would put on a special shelf for so many reasons:  The beauty of poetry, the emotional intensity, the poignant tragedy.  Crank is a magnificent example of brilliant, realistic literature.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Fourth Shelf Book!

An example of sheer brilliance in the craft of writing.  Ellen Hopkins has a talent for style and story.  This is an emotionally intense story that addresses very sensitive and weighty subjects and is completely written in verse.  A truly magnificent piece of literature.  Warning:  Emotional Triggers.

Love and Juno,


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