Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crank by Ellen Hopkins - Book Review

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.



I have reviewed a lot of books since starting this blog.  In 7 short months, I’ve managed to read and review 50+ books.

Not one of them was as difficult as the review I’m about to write now.

This book was…intense.  There was not one page in this novel that made me smile and think, “Gee, this book is fun!”  But neither was there a single page that made me think, “I’ve read enough for now”, or “Why is this book so hyped up?”  I finished Crank in two settings, and my reaction to it is a combination of admiration, fear, and depression.

Allow me to get personal for just a minute here.  In Crank, Kristana/Bree meets Adam.  She falls for him quickly, and he influences her in such a horrific way.  This hit me like a punch to the gut because not too long ago, I dated my very own Adam.  His drug-of-choice wasn’t crystal meth, but heroin.  I won’t get into the specifics of why I’d date a drug-addict, my low self-esteem and his functioning addiction playing huge roles in it, but the fact of the matter is, this entire novel read like a Could have been me warning.  If I hadn’t been warned away, if I hadn’t dug deep and found the strength to end a destructive relationship, I have no idea where I would be today.  How can you say what you’ll do until you’re put in that situation?  If he had pressured me, would I have caved?  Without people seeing what I was too na├»ve and stubborn to see myself, where would I be right now?

This novel, to put it bluntly, scared the living shit out of me.  But it did so in the best possible way.

While reading, it’s quickly obvious that Ellen Hopkins is drawing from her own painful personal experience, Kristina being inspired by her own daughter.  The emotion, desperation, and dark realism were bled into these pages, so each one cuts like a knife.  As we follow Kristina’s quick downward spiral, there is not a false line or forced scene.  This could be someone you know.  It could be you.  And that’s where Crank shines, because it’s a painful warning, a glimpse into a dark mirror of what you never want to become.

I feel like I’m doing this novel an injustice, writing an inadequate review, so I’m going to finish this with a plea to every person who knows someone who uses or is considering using recreational drugs to read this.  For all parents to read this.  For all teens to read this.  For anyone susceptible to peer pressure to read this.  Everyone should read this book.  It won’t be a fun journey, but it will be an important, and potentially life-changing, one.

Crank - 5 out of 5 stars

8 comments:

  1. Definitely a strong book! I don't have any personal connection to the story, being someone who never even smoked a cigarette, but even for me it still was a huge story. It's so easy to get sucked into things you thought you would never be apart of, especially at a younger age! That's part of the reason why I like books by Ellen Hopkins. They also cover tough issues that I think we can all sort of relate to in some way, even if we haven't been through the situations ourselves. And if we have, like you, it sort of paints a real picture of what could happen, like you said. I'm sorry that you had to go through anything like this, but I think it speaks volumes about you as a person that you were able to get out. <3

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    1. I don't smoke either, but I've met a lot of people who do a whole lot worse ha. I agree with this book, even if I didn't have that old relationship I'd probably have been able to relate to it just because of the way it was written. It's such a powerful novel.

      Aww, thank you so much, Asti! <3 It actually didn't feel like such a big deal at the time - he used, I didn't, so what? - but after I ended it, I started to realize just how lucky I am to have that out of my life. I'm never going to let those kinds of people in my life again, though, so I learned from it.

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  2. I like books that cover the darker issues, not pretty and fun but these scenarios exist and no point pretending they don't. I'm glad you are out of that situation now and sharing it in your review made the whole review more powerful for me. Its on my must read list now.

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    1. Exactly. I'll always advocate dark realism in books, especially YA. Ignoring the issues doesn't make them go away. And thanks so much, Trish, I am too. I'm glad I was able to push this book on your TBR list!

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  3. I remember feeling very similar feelings after I finished Crank. It's been years since I read it, but its dark realism is something that has stuck with me. Congrats to you for getting out of a similar situation before it was too late; I can't imagine how much deeper Crank might have resonated had I had a similar experience!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! It was actually really hard for me to read because of what introduced Kristina to Bree. It could so easily happen to anyone. I loved it for that reason, though. You know a book is good when it hits you like that.

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  4. Wow Kelly, that review gave me goosebumps! Sounds like an amazing story and kudos for you to getting out of that difficult situation yourself. It must have freaked you out to have read someone else going through a similar situation and being able to relate to it.

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    1. Thank you so much! It did, but in a good way. I think it kind of put things into perspective for me more, because I've always been quick to defend myself by saying I'd never have actually done it with him, but after reading Crank I had to admit to myself that that was bullshit. In a way, this book made sure I never let myself be in that kind of relationship again. It is just such a powerful read.

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As you may or may not know, life is eating up way too much of my spare time right now, so pretty please don't hate me if it takes me a few days to get back to your wonderful comments. I read each and every one from my phone, and they always make my day. <3