V.E.'s Reviews > Impulse

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
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Mar 02, 11

Read in November, 2010

I started this book very excited. Firstly, the cover looked interesting, then I saw that the story was written in verse form and my excitement level went higher. Perhaps my expectations multiplied my disappointment. Halfway through the book, I was only reading because I had already started and wanted to finish what I had started. Now what to start with...

1. There were many times when I couldn't distinguish the voices of the three different protagonists. I would start a chapter from a new person's perspective but I would have turn back to check whose perspective it was because I could have sworn that somebody else in the book had just said the exact same thing. This is definitely a big NO considering the characters are supposed to be very different people. Trying to "figure out" was a phrase I heard too often.

2. The main characters were too judgmental. I almost started banging my head against the wall each time one of them commented about how everyone else in the institution was crazy. I mean, Justin was considered crazy because he had strong religious beliefs. And for someone who claimed to believe in God, Tony was not cutting Justin any slack. Dahlia was constantly insulted even though they didn't really know her story. Lori was derided for being moody when, HELLO, most of them were on anti-depressants anyway because they were mostly DEPRESSED. All in all, the only impression I could get was that these were just regular kids with problems but the main characters were too concerned with forming weird love triangles and figuring each other out that they only took the time to gossip about everyone else. Vanessa didn't seem at all special or kind per se, so I don't understand why Tony and Conner were both so fixated on how pure and perfect she was. All she did was act anti-social with everyone else. And the only time she actually socialized was when she was insulting Dahlia.

3. Their stories ended up not being very interesting. Only Tony's story seemed even remotely engaging. And for all the internal whining they did, and all the times when the story was cut off before some "big revelation" Conner didn't seem like anything more than any regular rich kid with not-overly-affectionate parents. It was never really addressed why he felt depressed enough to try to commit suicide over Emily, neither was why he hated Cara so much and called her a b***h. Vanessa didn't have much to tell either, and much of what was going on with her could be explained away because she was bipolar. And the way she would describe her dad as if she hated him, then as if he was the greatest person in the world was just very confusing.

4. There were just too many oversexualized references in the book. Especially in places that they were not really necessary.

5. The love thing was just strange. How can Tony, Vanessa, and Conner be sitting together in a bus full of people, and Tony starts kissing Vanessa and expects NO ONE to see. And no one actually sees? Except Conner. And for all their friendship, Tony and Vanessa are not considerate enough to keep their PDAs out of Conner's sight especially since he liked Vanessa too.

6. All these, and more, make me so frustrated with the characters that I cannot really relate with them.

One star for effort and emotion. But if she's writing in verse form, Hopkins should try to pay more attention to it because towards the end it just got sloppy as if she wrote really short prose then just arranged it in lines.


**********SPOILER ALERT*****************

The whole Vanessa and abortion thing was just like WTF? I mean, is the HUGE secret she had been holding all this while? I didn't even really mesh with the rest of the story so far. And after the BIG REVELATION, it was never brought up again, as if mentioning it once was enough for Vanessa to get over it. Meh
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Emilie If you wouldn't mind, I would like to comment on each of your points. Feel free to disregard this if you would like.

1. I somewhat agree with this. I would have to flip back to know who was speaking at that point. I could normally figure it out by the writing, but other times I would get caught up and just have to go check back. I never really payed attention to the names at the beginning though, so it is probably my fault in a sense. I do understand what you're saying though.

2. As a person (and a teenager) who suffers from depression as well as a mood disorder, I can be very critical of other people. I'm probably more critical of other people suffering from mental disorders than anyone else. Part of it is a coping where as the other part is the inability to not compare myself with the other person(s). I hardly think this is a problem with the book because it was fairly realistic in my own opinion. I was also a huge fan of Vanessa. There was something about her that was very attractive to me. I'm not sure what it is, but I was definitely drawn to her.

3. I thought that their stories were very interesting. I guess it may be because I could easily relate to each one. I suppose it all depends on personal experience.

4. Bipolar disorder is known to cause a higher sex drive which is one possible explanation. Or it could just be that teenagers do that. They over-sexualize things. I know I do. It is just part of being a teenager and all the new hormones running a muck. Also, the characters were already sexually active, so naturally they would think more sexually than if the characters were all virgins.

5. I guess the characters are just inconsiderate. Not all human beings are "perfect". The characters in this book are far from perfect and that attracted me greatly to them.

6. Most of your problems with the book are focused more on the characters than anything else. You obviously don't like the characters. Which is fine, I guess. I personally loved them and could easily relate to them. Your ability to relate to them has to do with your personal experiences (and your own thoughts/personality), so not everyone will be able to relate to it.


message 2: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. I understand where you are coming from. Really, I do. But the simple fact is the character sucked, and since we are stuck in their head throughout the whole book, everything else sucked because of them. Perhaps another writing style would have worked better, but this certainly did not work for me.


Amsyy I agree with both of you, but mostly V.E.
I've gone through stuff like this, too, more than Ellen has, probably, and the majority of it was bogus. Read my review?


Molly umm just fyi, you had spoilers that WERENT in the spoiler alert section. i was going to read this.


message 5: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Molly wrote: "umm just fyi, you had spoilers that WERENT in the spoiler alert section. i was going to read this."

Sorry about that. just let me know which ones and i'll be sure to put them in the spoiler area or hide them


message 6: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Ams wrote: "I agree with both of you, but mostly V.E.
I've gone through stuff like this, too, more than Ellen has, probably, and the majority of it was bogus. Read my review?"


I just read your review and I do agree with some of your points. I found it really hard to believe that they would risk taking the children to a place where they could easily hurt themselves


Archana ♥ the abortion thing kind of did mesh with the book. like she would mention it randomly - one particular point that comes to mind is when vanessa said she wanted to cut herself everytime she heard a baby cry or her mother's voice.. she dd mention it previously.
i absolutely adored the book but at the end when they were all like 'oh yeah i killed someone' i was like reaaaaally? ruining the moment much. hahha.


message 8: by V.E. (last edited Apr 08, 2012 11:26PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Archana ♥ wrote: "the abortion thing kind of did mesh with the book. like she would mention it randomly - one particular point that comes to mind is when vanessa said she wanted to cut herself everytime she heard a ..."



hm, I should probably read it again. Thanks for pointing out the times she got upset when she heard a baby cry. I didn't really link that and the abortion in my mind until you just said it, but it makes sense. I'm glad you liked it. It just wasn't for me though :)


Mikaela I agree with you almost completely. I adore Ellen and almost all of her books, and I did enjoy this one enough not to put it down. Vanessa annoyed the crap out of me the whole time. In no way did I ever find her 'perfect' and 'innocent' at all. She was just as bad as Dahlia and anyone else she mentally put down.

However, I did really enjoy Tony's character and all of his sarcasm, but at the end of the day, he was so caught up in this girl who was taking his mind away from his suffering friend. He should have been with Conner, not fantasizing about kissing Vanessa every other second. I know that was the point of the end of the book and how Tony had that guilt (so basically, everyone was back at square one of depression/guilt/etc. except for Vanessa who didn't deserve 'level 5' yet, let alone happiness). I never really thought she had anything horrible in her life to begin with, but that's just me.

And finally, the one thing, the ONLY question that made me throw the book across the room. The first time I ever question Ellen's imaginative process... Why in the world would someone send a group of depressed and suicidal teenagers with raging hormones, hiking, and rock climbing, and why the hell did 'Sean' not check the harness like he was supposed to. I knew how the story would end by the time I realized Conner had stopped taking his medication on a camping trip in the wilderness (which these survival experts should have been making sure they took to begin with). If these were real people, which when I read a book, I like to imagine they potentially could be, I would hope that they felt horrible for the rest of their lives. They seemed to not realize they were taking care of teens with diagnosed psychological disorders. And with that being said, I'm finished...


Angelica Thompson umm about the distinguishing between the three voices usually the name of the person who was speaking would appear in the corner of the page when they started speaking. I'm not sure how you missed that but she did include that so that the reader wouldn't be confused. I would say maybe if you were to read another book by her pay attention to the whole page and you won't have this problem again!


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I do definitely agree with mostly of the points you made. I have a hard time distinguishing whos POV I was reading about. I think I liked the book.so much because I can relate to it. I think there were also unnecessary sexual parts in the book too. but I definitely still loved the book!


message 12: by D (new) - rated it 3 stars

D I just finished this and I wanted to send Vanessa through a wall the entire time. I also got a very Anti-Gay vibe from the book which was completely out of left field...


message 13: by V.E. (last edited May 11, 2013 11:56AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Angelica wrote: "umm about the distinguishing between the three voices usually the name of the person who was speaking would appear in the corner of the page when they started speaking. I'm not sure how you missed ..."

I understand that it may help to have their names in the corner of the page, but when an author is telling a story from multiple POVs the reader should be able to tell who is talking because there has to be something distinctive about each person's voice. Otherwise, it's basically unnecessary to use multiple narrators if they all sound the same.


message 14: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Mikaela wrote: "I agree with you almost completely. I adore Ellen and almost all of her books, and I did enjoy this one enough not to put it down. Vanessa annoyed the crap out of me the whole time. In no way did I..."

Definitely after the Conner thing, I was asking the same question. Suicidal kids on a wilderness trip? Wasn't the center afraid of a lawsuit?


message 15: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. Zayn wrote: "I do definitely agree with mostly of the points you made. I have a hard time distinguishing whos POV I was reading about. I think I liked the book.so much because I can relate to it. I think there ..."

I think that's great that you would encounter the same issues and you like the book because you can relate to. Honestly, I think the main attraction or turn-off for this book was how well you felt you could relate. I've definitely read books that had the same problems, but because it was something I could relate to, I was still able to enjoy those books.


message 16: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. D wrote: "I just finished this and I wanted to send Vanessa through a wall the entire time. I also got a very Anti-Gay vibe from the book which was completely out of left field..."

Anti-Gay in what sense?


message 17: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Sherry Coming from a person who has known people who have been admitted to psychiatric hospitals, this is pretty realistic.

Believe it or not. Also with the "Anti-Gay" thing, Ellen's son is gay. Just throwing that out there. She knows quite a bit about psychiatric problems through her children.

Everything seemed pretty accurate to an actual psychiatric hospital. Yes, some, residential institutes (when you level up) able you to go outdoors, hiking, camping.

Although, some hospitals don't check to make sure patients took their medication was taken, plenty check under the tongue to know it was swallowed. Pro-Zac is an anti-depressant, yes, but not all of them took it. I believe it can also be used as a mood stabilizer. The side effects were very realistic too. Not just made up out of nowhere.

I personally enjoyed the book, and different characters. Some things were a bit off, but almost everything was accurate.


message 18: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam you when you said that the three differnt voices were hard to follow at times and that the people were too judgemental. I thought that if a person was at a rehab center they of all people would understand the others potions and be more understanding, but I guess even people with problems can judge others with problems because there is always a person in a worse condition than themselves.


message 19: by Jj (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jj you have some points, yet I can see that the reason you didn't enjoy the book was your high expectatins which is not required for new things because expectations are alwys biased, its always to our own measurements...the book is good in its good way.


Amberlee Lopez Can u read this book on this app?


message 21: by V.E. (new) - rated it 1 star

V.E. I don't think so. The main book page does have links to buying the book or checking it out of a library. I got the copy I read from a library.


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