TITLE Crank (Crank #1)
AUTHOR Ellen Hopkins
PUBLICATION October 5, 2004 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
READ August 2012
In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.Crank is one of those books that I started reading with extremely high expectations. It was one of those books that everyone was talking about and when I heard enough high praise, I knew I had to start reading. One of the library assistants at my local library even left a note in my borrowed copy of the book, saying that she LOVED the book and told me about the other books in the series.
Soon, her grades plummet, her relationships with family and friends deteriorate, and she needs more and more of the monster just to get through the day. Kristina hits her lowest point when she is raped by one of her drug dealers and becomes pregnant as a result. Her decision to keep the baby slows her drug use, but doesn't stop it, and the author leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Kristina/Bree may never be free from her addiction.
Naturally, this meant that I had to read it NOW and I HAD to love it.
This was the second verse novel I’ve read (the first being I Heart You, You Haunt Me, by Lisa Schroeder) and I have to say that I feel like I’m getting hooked on the writing format. Whereas in a typical novel, repetition of a certain cluster of words would drive me up the wall, it’s okay in a verse novel. I find myself CRAVING it in a verse novel. I also love the fact that even though these types of novels are quite lengthy and thick (Crank is over 500 pages in length), they don’t take up too much time. Though, for this one, I found myself reading the pages slowly, digesting each verse methodically and carefully, trying to really understand the characters.
Character development is one thing that I loved with Crank. The main character, Kristina (who is mostly known by Bree), was a mystery to me at first. We see her development from the first page onward – not a lot of background, though. From the way I saw it, she was a good girl before she moved in with her dad over the summer and then it all went downhill. I wanted to yell and scream at her to stop hanging out with the wrong people. Stop! Turn around! Go back! Life was better before! And yet, I was dragged down into the story, my jaw dropping over how bad everything became.
The characters were well-written in this novel. Bree’s dad is one of those people that I absolutely hated – as were quite a few other characters. He was a terrible role model for her and I cringed whenever him and his bad influences came onto the pages. I could understand the downfall between Bree’s mom and dad instantly. I felt myself wanting to scream at Bree’s parents (much like I wanted to at Bree herself) for not realizing what was going on, for not realizing how bad things would and could get. I did find myself wanting more from Bree’s friends who were there prior to her starting to do drugs – I kind of felt like they dropped off the face of the planet at one point in the book and I wanted more from them. I think I expected more from them.
Even though the subject matter is extremely difficult to read, the writing was quite nice. While it’s not the best poetry I’ve read, I still loved the way Hopkins put her words together, describing people, places, and things so perfectly with great smatterings of words thrown together – something that would’ve taken PAGES in a regular novel. The images jump right off the pages and her language moves from being nice to not-so-nice – it’s raw and gritty and fits perfectly with the subject matter.
Though, in the end, while I loved the construction of this novel and the fact that it completely scared me (which is something you NEED in a novel, sometimes), I have my doubts on whether or not I’ll read the sequels to it. My reading preferences tends to lean towards books that make me feel GOOD in the end, books that leave me overfull with hope and love, and this one was NOT one of those kinds of books – it was heavy and dark and all-consuming, one that requires a major breather after finishing. Once I finished it, I had to take a walk and ask myself questions because I had no idea how to even go about rating this book – Did I like it? Yes. Was it well written? Yes. Would I recommend it to anyone? Yes and no – depends on the person. Would I read it again? No. Could I relate to the subject matter? No. Did I feel feelings while reading it? Yes. Major yes. Were they good feelings? No. Did the book make me think? Yes.
This wasn’t my favourite book – not by any stretch, but it was one that made me think and one that will stick in my brain. I would recommend reading this only if you are prepared for something that’s not pretty. This might make you feel things, but if happiness, love, and that overwhelming feeling of hope are some of the things you WANT to feel, then you may want to steer clear.
While Kristilyn looks for that feeling of hope and warmth at the end of a novel, I tend to like to feel as if I was just punched in the gut and need a stiff drink and a nap. LOL. So I have to say that this one does sound right up my alley. I've been gravitating toward the gritty contemporaries lately, though I have never read a novel in verse, that kind of scares me. Have any of YOU read Crank? What did you think?