Emily May's Reviews > Impulse

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
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's review
Mar 30, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: poetry, young-adult, 2011
Recommended for: People who don't mind the disturbing
Read from September 01 to 05, 2011

3.5 stars. The fact is, this is my third read by Ellen Hopkins and all of the books I've read so far have affected me quite deeply. I've discovered in this past year that I really like novels in verse, I couldn't imagine it being my thing before I first picked up Burned but all the ones I've read have been all the more emotional, moving and effective because of it. Before I start on about what I don't like, I'll just say now: this book is worth your time if you are okay with the depressing, disturbing and occasionally gross.

But, there's this one thing that is the same in all of Ellen Hopkins' books, and to understand it best try and imagine the novel is two halves. Not a first half and a second half but various different parts of the novel that either fall into half one or half two. Okay, now half one is like the very first Saw film: original, shocking, disturbing, horrifying but good as well because it's so different. Half two is like the rest of the Saw films put together.

Ellen Hopkins is Jigsaw and she wants to play a game...

Half two is made up of the parts that made me think "surely Ms Hopkins is going to give these poor little buggers a break now?" I mean, honestly, how many ways can you find to torture a person? In the same way that I quickly became tired of the Saw series and it's tendency to just keep inventing new and exciting ways to horrendously kill people, there were parts where I thought Ellen Hopkins went too far. This book was 666 pages long (ominous) but really didn't need to be, the story was good, the characters were interesting... everything else that happened was like seeing how bad their lives could possibly get.

In the words of Bruce Nolan: "Ellen Hopkins is a mean kid sitting on an ant hill with a magnifying glass..."

Let's take Tony. Tony was repeatedly raped by his mother's boyfriend, he runs away and ends up popping pills and trying his hand at prostitution in order to get by, he then attempts suicide and gets carted off to Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital. There the doctors try and re-connect him with his long-lost father but Tony's unsure of his sexuality and his dad's some uber-religious and homophobic nutter. What next for this poor kid? Like I wouldn't have felt sorry for him had he just been raped! Ellen Hopkins doesn't know when to stop, it's like "right, he's been abused, drugged up, prostituted, discriminated against... I know, give him diarrhea as well!"

This book would be great to read if you think your life's shit. No matter how bad it gets for you, these kiddies have it so much worse. And if you think your life's worse than this, I recommend writing to Hopkins as you'll probably feature in her next book.

It's not like it isn't good. Half number one is fantastic: well-written, interesting, moving, gritty. And I can handle disturbing, it can usually get me hooked. I just feel that Hopkins uses the shock factor too much and it becomes less believable because of it.

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Reading Progress

09/02/2011 page 62
9.0% "I'm telling you, Ellen Hopkins can not write mentally stable characters. Her books are gripping, though." 2 comments
09/03/2011 page 235
35.0% 2 comments
09/04/2011 page 403
61.0% "Can these characters' lives possible get any worse? This book is one big FML rant and I'm kind of liking it. Bizarre."
09/04/2011 page 413
62.0% "I love how I don't actually READ my statuses before I post them. I fail at status-ing."

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Tatiana Congratulations! I think you have reached a point when, like me and many others, you will think from now on about Hopkins' books - enough of rape, drugs and torture already! I gave this book such a rave review because it was the first one I read by her. But her stories get old very, very quickly IMO. I know there is depravity in the world, but at some point her books become relentless emo torture porn.

Emily May Tatiana wrote: "relentless emo torture porn"

so, so true:)

Alec I disagree completely. If you have been in these types of situations, you can connect to it in a way that people like you cannot. I have not read this book, I am actually going to right this second because I just bought it. Thanks for the warning, but again, people like you don't understand that this sometimes helps people move past their problems.

Emily May Alec, some people are abused, some people are drug addicts, some people are forced into prostitution, some people are shunned by those they love for being gay... but I find it hard to believe that everyone with issues has experienced all of this. Ellen Hopkins doesn't seem to think that being abused or being a drug addict is dramatic enough for her novels. That's what I dislike.

"people like you don't understand that this sometimes helps people move past their problems. "

No, I don't understand how this helps people move past their problems when the characters never move past their problems... things just keep getting worse. When you read it, you may understand more.

Alec Well, I started the book last night, and I'm hoping that, even if not like the others, they at least see that they are doing wrong and know that what they're doing is messed up. yes, I agree she does go over the top sometimes but I bet that someone has faced something like this. It's maybe not a matter of not moving past but not feeling alone.

Alec Wow, I just finished the book and you totally over exaggerated! The only things that were really disturbing were the little sexual comments here and there

Emily May Can you tell me where I over-exaggerated?

Alec About how it was like Saw. I mean, yes Vanessa's story was a bit...morbid, and so was Tony's but nothing that bad really happened. I liked the book a lot. And again, some people can only handle so much so I respect your opinion, I just expected worse after reaing this review.

Emily May "nothing that bad really happened"

What part of rape, drug abuse and suicide is not that bad? And I don't mind the sick and twisted when it's used to move a plot along, but not when it's used simply as a shock tactic.

message 10: by Alec (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alec True. I do agree that rape is not a pleasant thing to go through, but people do. Yes, the blood in the pants was so unnecessary and I think Conner's story with his teacher was just out-right weird, but I still liked the book. I just hated that thing that happened at the end of the book. I almost cried.

Taylor This book shows the reality that people do go through. It wasn't too much in my opinion. It's realistic.

Emily May I'm afraid that it was too much in my opinion. I found it very unrealistic because everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong. I get the feeling that Ellen Hopkins is not trying to make you appreciate realistic tragedy, but rather just shock and horrify you.

Amanda Says the person who has a perfect life. This is an amazing book! Don't hate on it because you never found yourself in any of those situations. It is realistic.

message 14: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley I believe that in the book they show you that sometimes when things start to go wrong they sometimes don't get better they just keep getting worse and worse not always does the situation in life get better. Sometimes you learn that life doesn't get better till something changes. Thats what the characters in the book have learned that they have been blessed with a second chance and that now they need to take advantage of it.

Amelia Strydom Okay, I admit to not having read all the comments on this review, so I might be repeating what others have said. You do realize, though, that these 3 kids have attempted suicide? Generally, when you do that, it's because your circumstances are pretty damn dire. I certainly don't think Tony's situation is over the top. Moreover, it is balanced by e.g. Conner's, who seems to have the perfect life on the surface, but actually receives no love or approval.

message 16: by Libby (new)

Libby Look, I haven't read this book. But the situations you seem to be describing aren't over the top in the slightest. People really experience this type of stuff, and the fact that you don't doesn't make it unrealistic. It makes you lucky.

Emily May Libby wrote: "Look, I haven't read this book. But the situations you seem to be describing aren't over the top in the slightest. People really experience this type of stuff, and the fact that you don't doesn't m..."

Of course they do. But very few people, if any, experience them all at once. Which is why this book feels like one shock tactic after another.

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