Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank - Ellen Hopkins

It’s been eight years since Kristina Snow last saw her dad. When she is given the opportunity to spend her summer holidays with him, Kristina jumps at the chance to spend quality time with the man who she once considered the ‘Prince of Albuquerque’, despite her mother’s wishes. But on her arrival in Reno, she is confronted with a father who is totally different to what she expected- the strong, loving father she remembers from childhood has been replaced by a drinking, drug-taking layabout. Desperate to reconnect with her dad, and intensely interested in Buddy, the young man who lives in an apartment downstairs, Kristina finds herself embracing her dark side, going by the name of Bree and partaking in activities that shy Kristina would never consider. While in this state of emotional unbalance, fearless Bree starts taking crank- crystal meth- and quickly becomes addicted to the rush that it brings her. Soon, crank starts to take over her life, and before she knows it, good girl Kristina has receded into the shell of her body, and is ruled by the destructive Bree, in need of her next fix.
As Kristina/ Bree’s addiction grows, and she disassociates herself from her family and friends, she begins to realise why people call crank ‘the monster’, and struggles to find a way to get herself back on track. But the monster is always there, and it’s a difficult demon to ignore…

What I gained from reading this book:
This novel delves into the dark world of drugs, booze and sex, but what makes it all the more challenging to comprehend is that this is experienced by a sixteen-year-old girl. Crank is loosely based on real-life events that occurred in Hopkins’ daughter’s life as she became addicted to the drug, and turned into a virtual stranger to those who know and love her. The sad thing is, this is probably not an isolated story, with many teenagers facing similar concerns as their substance abuse grows out of control.
In the novel, the character of Kristina is a model student, and rarely finds herself in trouble. But on her trip to Reno to visit her dad, she unleashes her darker side- Bree- who is sitting on the sidelines and just waiting to cause problems. Living in a place where she is an unknown, meeting a sexy bad boy, and realising that she has glorified her father in her memories, Kristina recreates herself as Bree as a way of coping with all the sudden changes. When she is introduced to the monster, she is more than happy to jump right in and try something new- even if it is potentially risky- in order to gain respect from the new people in her life.
This sort of damaging behaviour sets the tone for how the rest of the novel plays out. Readers become aware, through reading the verses, that addiction to an illicit substance such as crank changes everything in a person’s life, and affects more than just the person taking the drug.

Although I’m not usually a fan of poetry, this verse novel had me hooked. Kristina/ Bree’s story drew me in and I found I couldn’t put the book down- I wanted to find out what she would do next to get out of her predicaments.

Kristina’s alter ego Bree- a strong and vibrant character- is also very destructive. As her addiction to the drug grows, Bree’s actions get progressively worse, resulting in a novel that is recommended for those aged 14 and up, due to its content. This book would probably not be a good choice for people who hold more conservative opinions about human behaviour, or for those who struggle to emphasise with a young person who has fuelled her own demons.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Genre: Teenage Fiction

Recommended for: People who are interested in reading a verse novel that is addictive as the subject matter.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:


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