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 naïve 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