Courtney's Reviews > Crank

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
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May 07, 12

bookshelves: teen-fiction, series, gateway-award-nominees, novel-in-verse
Read from May 04 to 05, 2012

I can't believe I didn't review this the first time I read it. But then, it was at least 5 years ago and I can't remember if I was writing reviews by then or not. It doesn't matter though, I'd probably want to rewrite it anyway.
So, this is my second time reading Ellen Hopkins' debut, Crank. I'm pleased to say that it holds up to repeated readings. It's the story of Kristina, a relatively normal, well-adjusted high school student. During the summer, she decides to go visit her estranged father. She quickly discovers why her mother divorced him. Her father is something of a deadbeat. He works for under-the-table pay at the local bowling alley, lives in a seedy apartment and has a penchant for illegal substances. During this trip, she also meets a boy. He's not her type (she keeps telling herself), and yet she finds herself completely drawn to him and him to her. In spite of his girlfriend. Kristina lets another part of herself take over; the part she calls Bree. Bree is everything Kristina is not. It is Bree and not Kristina that takes the first dance with the Monster, aka meth. Over the course of time, Bree takes over Kristina's formerly perfect life. Mind you, Kristina does not suffer from multiple personalities; she has merely created an alternate persona. Bree loves meth and will do anything to get it. Which naturally leads to all kinds of serious problems.
The descent into drug addiction portrayed here is a bit like a car crash. It's profoundly disturbing and yet impossible to look away. Hopkin's poetry adds to the surreal nature of Kristina's downward spiral. There are no easy answers here either. Why is Kristina predisposed to let Bree take over? Why does her family stay in denial for so long? What will Kristina do after the book ends (a question answered in the sequel, Glass)? It's difficult to make a character who so readily makes bad decisions a character that the average reader can relate to, but Hopkins pulls it off. This book is far and above the average "problem" novel.
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