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.
Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.
Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!
This is one of those books I can't give a star rating to--at least not by the definitions goodreads assigns. I did not like this book at all and yet I am forced to admit it is powerful, important, scary-as-you-know-where and should be read by every parent of teenagers today.
My daughter brought Crank home from the school library and also read it in a day; it's positively riveting. Ellen Hopkins first novel is based on her own tragic experience as a mother of a crank (meth) addict. So although Crank is technically a novel it's more correctly a fictionalized autobiography written from the perspective of the young teen, Kristina/Bree. She was born and lived as Kristina for 16 years. After her introduction to crank, or 'the monster' as she refers to it throughout the book, she discovers this wild, seductive, bad girl inside her named Bree.
To add to the overall eerie effect, Hopkins writes the entire book in sculpted verse. Each page is a different shape, direction and interplay of italics and plain text. Although I'm familiar with other books which use this poetical technique, I've never seen it used to such creepy perfection. The flow of words, spacing and grouping seem to mimic the rhythm of the drug and how Bree feels it, or the booze, cigarettes, lack of sleep, or whatever event/emotion she is experiencing.
Be prepared to stare into the Void.
WARNING: The language in this book is as crude as would be expected given the pseudo-life drug addicts slip into.
Life was good before I met the monster. After, life was great, At least for a little while.
Like a seed planted in your body, Crank is an unforgettable read that sweeps you up into a whirlwind of drugs, sex, and the choices and mistakes you must make when growing up. After I finished this novel, a little invisible demon grew at my side and will forever travel at my shoulder-whispering this story and its consequences into my shuddering ears. Read this book, you will never do meth and will always remember what Kristina/Bree went through.
Ok ya'll. Time for another brutally honest and very personal review from yours truly. Gee, i seem to be writing a lot of personal reviews lately, don't I? As some of you may have noticed, I haven't spent a lot of time on here or even been reading much this summer. That's because I've been dealing with a lot of personal shit on my plate. Some of that has to do with work. Some with school. But I am, for the first time admitting to all of you that the main reason is because I've spent the majority of this summer fighting with my personal demons. Of which I have a ton. 99.9% of you guys also don't know me in real life, but if you did, you would know that I am not a person who likes to air my dirty laundry for people. Or share my feelings. Or make my demon battles public knowledge. However, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes I need to resort to unorthodox fighting methods in order to keep the demons at bay. And one of those methods is writing. Because I don't know you guys on a face-to-face level, I really feel as if i can be honest. And myself. And maybe use this space, my own personal cyber-writing pad as a way to get out my inner junk. Because it's there. Clawing at the walls of my psyche for release. And I am writing this review as much for myself AND for all the people who may never read these words just as much as I am writing for you guys who will read them. So bear with me. This may be a bumpy ride.
Also, i'm spoiler tagging everything from here on out, simply because there will be some dark stuff in here, so those of you who are uncomfortable with dark and twisty and personal material need not enter at all.
WARNING: UNPOPULAR OPINION AND PROFANITY AHEAD . . .
This is the story of Kristina and the downward spiral her life takes once she decides to dance with “the monster.”
First things first . . . Apparently I missed the memo that said everything “disturbing” should be written in free verse form. Note to writers: Using this method does not make your work “poetic” or “better,” so stop doing it if you’re not good at it.
On to the actual story . . . I know Crank was supposed to bring to light all the dangers of drugs and how using will destroy your life and blah blah blah. Unfortunately (to me at least) it read like an old “scared straight” type of story (kind of like a Reefer Madness, if you will) . . .
I realize I’m an old adult and this book is geared for young adults, so this problem could easily be mine alone, but I just couldn’t ever get on board with feeling any kind of sympathy for Kristina or her family. I know Crank is supposedly based on actual events, but it didn’t read true to me at all. The lack of caring, concern or any type of involvement with Kristina at all by the mother was extremely disturbing to me as a parent. We’re talking about a child – not some 30-something year old burnout here. Seriously, if your teenager is an average P.I.T.A. hormonal drama mama, but otherwise picture perfect kid who then does a complete 180 and morphs into someone you suspect is on drugs it is YOUR JOB as the parent to try and solve the problem using any means necessary. Hell, it’s your job to stop it before it even starts. If you think you are sending your child to an ex with a major habit, you DON’T SEND YOUR CHILD THERE. Violate your custody agreement, call Family Services and have his dumb ass investigated, do anything it takes to keep your kid away from that person. Writing a book about what happened and cashing in upteen years after the fact is the most “disturbing” thing about this whole novel. Everything else just made me feel like this . . .
As someone who had a close friend that fell into using drugs and sleeping around, this book really hit home. It made me feel like I was reliving seeing my friend fall apart, right before my very eyes. It hurt to read this at some parts, made me want to shake Kristina and beg her to "please, stop" to tell her she's "better than this." But of course, I knew that would do little good. It hadn't done much for my friend. In fact, it'd done nothing.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the writing and structure of the novel. It's really unique and fitting for the story - because while you're on drugs nothing in life goes smoothy - just like the choppy chapters and pages in this novel. It was smart on Hopkins part to write it that way.
It's also heartbreaking to hear that this happened to Hopkins own daughter. And that she began writing this soon after her daughter went to prison. That just made me realize how bad getting addicted to drugs is, and how my experience with watching my friend fall victim is only one case out of thousands. Which is honestly, scary stuff.
Overall, this was something I didn't intend to like as much as I did. I expected to read it and think: "Okay. It's unique." But never did I think I would connect so much - as though I was living through my friends eyes, seeing why it was all so addicting. In a way, I'm glad to have seen what she went through. And for those wondering, yes, she's doing better now. After getting out of her bad family situation she moved out of the state with her sister. Now, they both attend University and live life happily and peacefully. Mainly stressing out about school and work. I'm proud of her new lifestyle, but I also know how easy it is to fall back to the "Monster." She tells me sometimes how that scares her more than anything else. That the need inside of her for the Monster will win, one day. I can only pray that will never happen.
Either way, this was outstanding. I'll need to get my hands on the next two books. Soon.
Call me a narc, I just can't empathize. Believe me, I put myself in her shoes. I understand that there are drug users who have reasons for taking cocaine, but what's her problem? One, her dad is a big jerkbutt. ...And that's about it. I can imagine worse situations in a second. If I were her, I would call my mom and beg her to take me home. That, and call Child Services to inspect him. End of story. Also, nobody forced her to snort. It was all her stupid mind that chose to take the step because some dude was super hot and was nice to her (Twilight, anyone?). So what horrible event prompted Bree to snort? Nothing, except that she was an angst-y and shallow teen who only cared about looks. This girl lost all of my respect from the beginning. I'm sorry about that.
I don't want this to come across like I'm desensitized to drugs and how they can screw up someone's life, because I've personally seen that happen to many times to ever underestimate the power of addiction. And while I think it's important that YA authors write about these topics in an honest and eye-opening way, I don't think that Hopkins did that, even though her story is based on first-hand experience with meth. I felt that much of her writing was cliche, in terms of language and description. I felt that her characters fell into stereotypical patterns (and could Chase's "dialogue" have been any cheesier?) The form does add some appeal to the novel, though again, I've seen that done before and done much better. Some of these issues, I think, are because of the form's limits (it's hard to develop secondary characters at all when you're writing first person poetry), but others are just limitations of the story itself. I think that there was a lot going on with Kristina that wasn't caused by the drugs -- sure, meth amplified those things, but there were other issues at the root of her bad choices and I thought the author really glossed over them (maybe because she wanted to be able to lay all these problems at the feet of the "monster" rather than take some responsibility herself? I'm not sure.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
OMG! I am in love with this book. It's so very sad. I just don't really have words for it. I opened it today, didn't even put it on my currently reading list as I couldn't put it down.
Kristina sinks into a world of drugs.. crank... all kinds... she gets hurt... I would like to take a hot iron poker to the one that hurts her....
When Kristina goes into her world of drugs she calls herself Bree... Bree is cool.. or so she thinks.
Did it all start because she goes to see her father? Her father is a druggie as well. There she meets a boy that turns her on to coke and they say they are in love.. it's just the drugs talking.
She goes home.. to her perfect family.. brother.... sister... mom who is so many things I can't even say... a step-dad who seems nice.
Kristina/Bree spirals even more.. so far down. Being inside of her head and thoughts are so sad. She falls in love with two more boys.. one nice.. one not so nice.
The outcome of the whole book is sad and sweet at the same time. Makes me sad. Sad for so many out there that face life in the wrong ways, or it faces them in the wrong ways. I was one of them, but in a different way.
This is a trilogy and I'm anxious to read the other books and I'm scared at what will happen. I hope something nice.
An immensely powerful book, Crank brings us a heartbreaking downfall into drug addiction. Knowing Ellen personally experienced much of this story gives it even more of an emotional pull, as we learn that this is based on Ellen's own daughter's story.
I'm still quite new to verse novels so it did take me a good 100 pages (which took like 20 mins to read, really - you can fly through verse books in no time) to get comfortable with the writing style. Before that I kept concentrating on how I was supposed to read it: vertical first or not? For instance. I soon realized it didn't matter. Plus, by then, I was so into it I wasn't even paying attention to that at all, it had me completely engrossed. Deciding to write such a story in verse was brilliant, however. It turns it into an even more tragic tale, seeing as it leaves no room for sugar coating or frivolous sidetracking. It gives us a blunt, ugly, and completely raw foray into addiction. If you're hesitant to read verse novels, you should force yourself to give one a try. No one is less of a poetry fan as I am - when we studied it briefly in high school, everyone seemed to find such complexity in the meaning of a single verse when I was staring at it wide-eyed thinking for sure they had not read the same thing I just had. With that said, I'm glad that I went outside my comfort zone to try a verse novel. Crank being only my second. They offer something entirely potent from the candid nature of their storytelling. Furthermore, some of the poems in Crank are stylized in such a mesmerizing way, it makes reading it an experience like no other.
Crank is not a pretty story; it's very much the opposite. No addiction of any kind is ever pretty. This novel portrays the decent into a drug infested haze in the most realistic of ways. We have a protagonist, here, who becomes captive of what she refers to as the monster. She even develops an alter-ego, kind of as a way to separate herself and stay in denial. We see her delude herself into believing that she is still in control, that she is not imprisoned by her addiction. She will piss you off to no end, yet you will likely still feel sympathy towards her. We see the downward spiral she is running towards, while helpless to stop it. It's heartbreaking, really. She's blind to its impact on her own mind and body, not to mention her family. Addiction affects much more than just the person affected, and this book also portrays how, more often than not, friends and family are just as much in denial as the addict herself. Thinking up excuses for them, not wanting to admit that something is seriously wrong.
Poignant and completely unforgettable, Crank is an eye-opening story that anyone touched by addiction should read. It shows us the monstrous, but entirely realistic, road to drug addiction.
“Have you ever had so much to say that your mouth closed up tight struggling to harness the nuclear force coalescing within your words? Have you ever had so many thoughts churning inside you that you didn’t dare let them escape in case they blew you wide open? Have you ever been so angry that you couldn’t look in the mirror for fear of finding the face of evil glaring back at you?”
Every time I read an Ellen Hopkins book it's always an emotional journey and this one is no exception. This one is probably one of her more dark books, if not the darkest. This book has gritty and gorgeous prose, an addictive plot; it's thrilling and almost frightening to read, and this is a book that challenged how I perceived things. The first book I ever read by her was Burned and it remains to this day my favorite book.
1) The Plot
Kristina, our main character, is the definition of someone who would be the perfect daughter. Gifted, excelling in school, popular, held in a high regard. This all changes as soon as she goes to live with her father and she discovers the thing that would always call her back to it: crank (crystal meth). What starts as a fun experiment goes into her own personal hell and the struggle for her mind and her life.
Ellen Hopkins's daughter was actually affected by crank. So this book is well backed up with accuracy, and Ellen witnessed the havoc that the monster wreaked on her daughter and everyone around her, and the struggle that came along with her daughter's addiction; this book is mayhem in the best way.
2) The Main Character
Kristina/Bree - This girl gets very, very dark when the crank affects her. To the point, that she becomes a completely different person dubbed Bree. It's an amazing experiences reading this book. Ellen Hopkins has an amazing way of making you feel like you're actually living in the book. I would picture Kristina/Bree as Taissa Farmiga.
3) The Writing
Ellen Hopkins has an undeniable talent when it comes to writing. She is technically a poet, as all of her books in written in verse. Here are a few examples of the prose that really captured my attention:
-“The monster likes to talk; he jumps into your head and opens your mouth, making it spout your deepest darkest deceptions. Making you say all the things you'd rather not say, at least not in mixed company."
-“The problem with resolutions is they're only as solid as the person making them.”
-“How can I explain purposely setting foot on a path so blatantly treacherous? Was the fun in the fall?”
-“You're a gift, one I'll always treasure. You're a dream I never want to wake up from. You open my eyes to things I'll never really see. You're the best thing that will ever happen to me. Be safe. Be smart. Stay you.”
-“So you want to know all about me. Who I am. What chance meeting of brush and canvas painted the face you see? What made me despise the girl in the mirror enough to transform her,turn her to into a stranger, only not. So you want to hear the whole story. Why I swerved off the high road, hard left to nowhere, recklessly indifferent to those coughing my dust, picked up speed no limits,no top end, just a high velocity rush to madness.”
-“Fireworks. Snowflakes. Sunstroke and frostbite.
It was all that I could ask for and completely unexpected.
I expected demands. He gifted me with tenderness.
I expected ego. He let me experiment.
I expected disrespect. He called me beautiful.
I expected him to expect perfection. He taught me all I needed to know.”
4) Overall Thoughts
As with every book by her, I was profoundly entertained and really enjoyed this book. Ellen Hopkins can't do any wrong in my eyes.
I'm not sure that I can adequately put my feelings about this poignantly written epic poem/novel into words. Part of my fears that I cannot do it justice. Simply put, this book embodies the type of literature that I live and breathe for. It's one of those books that vindicates my decision to become an educator and teach this type of literature. It also proves that not all "great" literature looks like a modern novel nor is it written by "dead white guys".
Written as a series of concrete poems, Crank chronicles Kristina's/Bree's downward spiral and addiction to crystal meth. Told from Kristina's/Bree's perspective, the poem/novel gives readers insight into the monster and its hold over people, especially impressionable teenagers. Based on Ellen Hopkins' real-life battle with her daughter's addiction, Crank gives a voice to the voicelessness of drug addiction. Instead of opting for a trite memoir, Hopkins beautifully embroils readers in her daughter's struggles. The style is like nothing I've ever encountered before; captivating, deeply unsettling, and harrowing, the tale becomes a part of you by the end.
I have a feeling this book will "stick with me" for a while. In fact, I'll be driving right to Barnes & Noble from work to pick up the two sequels. I plan on devouring them as quickly as I did this one.
Kristina is a bright, good kid. But now, Kristina is gone. Bree has taken her place. Bree is dangerous. Bree is willing to try anything. Bree craves the monster. Bree craves crank.
Crank is a novel, in verse, detailing Kristina’s transformation into Bree. On a trip to visit her father, Kristina meets Adam. Adam introduces her to crank. But even before that fateful trip, Kristina had felt Bree’s presence. Kristina never would have even spoken to Adam. That was all Bree. Kristina never would have been attracted to Chase or Brendan. But to Bree, they’re catnip. Kristina never would have made the choices Bree made. But Bree is in control now.
Hopkins does an excellent job of making Kristina’s transformation into Bree seem realistic, and of making the distinction between Kristina and Bree clear without suggesting mental illness. Bree does not exist because of the crank; Bree causes the crank to happen. Bree exists beneath the surface long before the drugs set her free. The novel is heartbreaking—the reader can see where Kristina is headed, but never stops hoping that something will turn her from her path.
The use of verse is particularly effective in this novel. Even the formatting of the poems is significant. I was originally quite skeptical about this format, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and felt that the use of this format added an extra dimension to the story.
Many teens will identify with the concept of having a secret “other half,” a personality that is quite different from their own—who is fearless and exciting. While Crank is not preachy, it does have a fairly clear anti-drug message that may be more effective than a more heavy-handed approach.
My only quibble with the novel is Kristina’s parents’ reaction to her drug use. Her stepfather, Scott, recognized the signs of addiction, but her parents ultimately did nothing save grounding her. It was established that her parents had some knowledge of the drug scene dating back to their youth, but did not use this knowledge to help her. I found that unrealistic.
For the longest time now, I’ve been amused by and interested in drugs. No, not doing drugs. But seeing stories about people who do drugs. It amazes me how a substance can change a person so quickly. How it can make your life escalate and then sink it as quick as a heartbeat. How it can make you feel like you’re at the top of the world, and once it’s gone, the overwhelming need to have more. I have only seen it before on television. Skins (UK) to be exact. Seen the lives of countless teenagers being destroyed by a substance, right before my very eyes. But like the drug itself, I was addicted see more. I couldn’t stop watching. I needed more, so I became attached to Crank.
I had heard about the books before, but it wasn’t until after I had watched Skins (UK) that I had actually purchased it. I had a strange need for more stories about teens and drugs. I wanted to get into their heads. I needed to feel what they felt in the safest way possible. It became an addiction of my own, but hardly on the level of addiction those teenagers faced.
Crank is a novel written in verse-poetry. It follows a sixteen-year-old girl who discovers a monster. In sparse, beautiful words, she describes how her life changes and she becomes someone else, literally. She explains how she first got into drugs and what came in the aftermath. She tells us how her need for more made her life a true living Hell, and how it tore her away from her family. It shows us how Kristina is no longer Kristina, but how she is now a person much unlike herself, Bree.
I could not put that book down. I read for about half an hour when I first picked it in the early hours of the morning while the rest of the world slept. I got around hundred or so pages in before the following hours of the next morning, where I began to devour the book and refused could to put it down from then on. It had easily become my own drug, and I needed to feel the rush in one whole turn, instead small, uninspired spurts. Perhaps it is because the poetry was so much more refreshing and different from my usual prose, but something incredibly special about it made it impossible to ignore.
The writing style was fantastic. I am a newcomer to poetry, yet I loved every word that Ellen Hopkins wrote for me. I say me because I felt as if I alone read the novel, and that I was not simply part of the thousands of others who had read the book from all around the world. The words flowed so naturally and struck so many raw emotions into my heart. Not only that, but the words played our eyes, descending down the pages in different shapes and structures, like skylines in a vast city and beating hearts trying to break free from the pain.
The story was heartbreaking. To see what Kristina had gone through, and to have her think everything was just as it should be, set me on a rage. I wanted to desperately save this girl. I wanted to take her into my arms and hold her tightly until she had recovered. What made it even more emotional, however, was that Crank is based off a true story regarding Ellen Hopkins’ daughter. Right from the start, Hopkins tells us that, “While the work is fiction, it is loosely based on a very true story-my daughter’s.” Even though she did not go through everything Kristina had gone through, my heart still went out to her. I found myself crying at times, shedding the tears that Kristina didn’t dare. I became the person she wanted to be. I wanted to feel safe and secure but she took me even further into Hell. She didn’t do it alone, however. She had help in her decline, and it drew hatred from me toward those involved.
I must admit that at times I wonder what would happen to me if I were ever to take drugs. I wonder what might happen if I smoked weed or popped a few pills. Even though I read and see these stories, it does not show what I might go through. But, living in the lives of these teenagers, going down with them and not being able to get back up, it helps me greatly to stay away from these monsters and the destruction they cause. There are so many people out there, all over the world, who do not have that kind of help. They do not know what they are getting into when they take their first hit or their first puff or their first snort of their first line. The monster isn’t indecisive. It will take any who are willing to let.
Crank, you see isn’t any ordinary monster. It’s like a giant octopus, weaving its tentacles not just around you, but through you, squeezing not hard enough to kill you, but enough to keep you from reeling until you try to get away.
The Storyline Kristina is a high school junior who’s your typical normal kid who brings home good grades and has never done anything to disappoint her mom. Kristina though, isn’t always Kristina. Sometimes she becomes Bree, the girl she’s always wanted to be. The girl who tells it like it is, the confident one, the one who’s nothing like Kristina.
When Kristina goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit her dad she meets the neighbor boy Adam and her life begins the slow roll downhill.
His voice dripped Honey and cream, Irresistible poison.
He was poison and he introduced her to another irresistible poison: the monster. Just trying it once and her life was forever changed.
My Thoughts This is my third foray into the works of Ellen Hopkins and I have yet to be disappointed. These are hard books and I can see why people either love them or hate them. They wrestle the difficult subjects that normal authors refuse to touch in order to avoid controversy or dispute. I can understand this; however, that makes me love this author that much more because she does wrestle these tough subjects. She tackles them to the ground and does it with gusto.
All of Ellen Hopkins books tell a brutally honest tale and you’re not likely to get a happy ending either so don’t be surprised if you’re left beaten and bruised by her stories and not given your fairy tale ending. Her books just simply are take it or leave it. Personally, I can’t get enough of them; I find them incredibly hard to put down once I’ve started and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.
How many of you read Go Ask Alice when you were younger? Well, Crank by Ellen Hopkins is sort of like Go Ask Alice, only 1000x better. Upon finishing Crank, I did not think drugs were cool, whereas when I finished Go Ask Alice I was able to see the appeal of whatever that girl was on. In Crank, the drugs are legit scary and the results more tangible and immediate. Read the rest of my review here
I wrote this review from the perspective of an educator, so it might be more beneficial for teachers :)
I feel bad saying this because of the dark, sad, content, but this was an amazing book! I typically read Go Ask Alice with my 11th/12th graders because of the detailed description of the main character's drug use and ultimate downward spiral. I think it is an important book to share because of the impressionable and exploratory stage my students are at. After reading Crank, I would not be opposed to reading it with my class instead of Go Ask Alice (maybe switch between the two). There are several reasons why I might do this, one being that Go Ask Alice seems dated to many of my students now. There are references and certain language used in the book that my students didn't understand. Another reason is the unique format in which Crank is written. Go Ask Alice is written in a pretty simple diary format, whereas Crank is written more like poems. I feel like my students would benefit from reading a novel in this type of format because it can be easily connected to: other poems about drug abuse, ELA poetry terms, songs about drug abuse, etc. Lastly, of recent, meth seems to have grown in popularity. It would be beneficial for my students to see how all consuming and life changing meth addiction can be.
In saying all of this, I am not trying to downplay Go Ask Alice, and will still be using it in my classroom. It is a superbly realistic and terrifying book in its own right. But, if you need to work in some 'poetry' in your classroom, or need to switch up your books, then I recommend giving Crank a try.
*If I do use this in my classroom I would be sending a letter home to parents beforehand. This book deals with weighty topics like: sex, drugs, abortion, family relationships, etc.
Everything about this book is different from anything I have ever read. It is small and thick (kind of shaped like a bag of cornmeal) however had I not started it at 10 PM, I would most definitely have read it in one sitting. Written in prose that changes shape and font from page to page, it is a terrifying, brilliant, important, tremendously sad story based upon the life of the author's seventeen year old daughter. Unique, seemingly honest and authentic, and a very quick, compulsive read. I'm still shuddering inside. I do not typically do well with trilogies but I will try the next in this series.
I'm changing my rating to five for the prose alone. Amazing.
I don't know why, but I wanted so much to hate this book... And in some ways I did- Not because it was slow, boring, or uncreative, but because it grossed me out seeing how anyone, even I, could meander down the wrong path so easily. Crank really made me look into the mirror and rethink my standards/morals. This is definitely something EVERY TEEN should read, for it teaches an important lesson. I give Ellen Hopkins 5 stars for this masterpiece. It may not have become one of my favorites, but a poetic masterpiece it is none the less.
Life was good before I met the monster. After, life was great, At least for a little while.
I am always drawn and intrigued by books that deal with real human problems and emotion. I have read books on incest, abuse and alcoholism. Crank is actually one of those books.
Crank is a story about how a normal teenage girl became a substance abuser. It was written in meaningful verses that would keep you glued to its pages.
Kristina was as shy and reserved. Bree was fun and outgoing. Kristina is Bree. Bree is Kristina. Kristina faded into the background when she met the monster. Adam introduced her to crank. Bree gets addicted. She wanted it more and more until she couldn’t stop. She is now dependent to the monster. Kristina loses control over herself to Bree.
This is a seriously sad story. Kristina had a good life. Not perfect but good. I couldn’t get why she gave into drugs. Sure she met a good looking guy who does it but does she have to do it to. She had the opportunity to refuse but she didn’t. Things spiraled out of control and she became addicted. What I also don’t get is why there was nothing done about her situation. That is just crappy! Sure her mother loves her (I think) but she should have done something. They should have done something. This book didn’t really end in a good way but since there is a sequel I can’t really be sure how Kristina’s story ends.
What I loved about Crank is that it deals with teens getting into drug abuse. Ms. Hopkins made this book to open up our eyes to the reality of what teens could or is going through with drug abuse. The author used an indirect approach in making the readers realize how dangerous drug abuse is.
I felt my heart crushing every time Kristina/Bree made the wrong decision. Every wrong move that she did made me want to hold her tight and not let go until she stopped. It breaks my heart reading this. Sometime my stomach couldn’t take it anymore. It just wasn’t right. But I know that it is happening to people. That was what makes me feel worse. The fact that there are a lot of people with the same problem but they weren’t getting the support that they need to overcome the addiction.
This is not the end of Kristina’s story. The sequel is called Glass. Haven’t read it yet but hopefully she would get better. Keeping my fingers crossed.
This book somehow reminded me of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Both books were based on a true account. But with James’ story he eventually gets better. Hopefully, Kristina/Bree does too.
This book was... WOW. This book is one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of drug addiction. This book beautifully describes, in a verse form, how drugs completely and horribly destroyed a girls life. This book weaves together a tale of the dangers of drugs.
The main character was very relatable, though I have never done drugs, one finds themselves sympathizing with her and her struggles. Even hating one of the characters so much for hurting the main character. The main character is were the book finds its strength and its beauty.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants a very emotional read, and relatable characters.
I honestly can't wait to read more of Ellen Hopkins' books.
Before anything else, I'll say I'm glad I read this book. I'd never read a novel done entirely in free verse before, so I was interested to see how it would turn out.
After reading it, I have to say that it's the content of a slight novella stretched across 500+ pages. Theres an astonishing amount of white space and many pages contain no more than nine or ten words. But that's not the crux of my criticism of the book.
But rather it's the nature of the stylistic choice to write in verse rather than simple straightforward paragraphs. The bedrock of which is simply that 'verse' implies 'poetry', and 'poetry' in turn promises robust and compact description (the better to navigate the tight strictures of poetic spaces) and inventive and surprising use of language. Sadly, the 'verse' here has little of that. So, I'm left to wonder why the author chose to write this way.
It cannot be for story-telling reasons, as the breezy and staccato nature of the stanzas often forces the author to gloss over detail that is vital to the narrative. For instance, at one point the author writes: "Somehow, Lucinda and I found an odd rapport." This is simply statement, not concrete description. How was the rapport odd? What conversations led to this turn of events? What did it sound like? What did Lucinda look like? Sadly, we never find out. This paucity of concrete detail riddles the novel and drains the narrative of tension. We are left instead with lists and pseudo-poetical rhetoric.
One could argue that the visual arrangement of the text adds to the novel's depth. And true, the verse is very creatively and painstakingly arranged. Some of it is shaped into wedges, sweeping slopes, slanting V's, or even just plain peppered haphazardly across the page. And I'll admit, some of it is pretty cool. But my alarm bells go off when I feel an author has to resort to textual mimetics in order to give me narrative cues. It indicates weak writing and flaccid plotting.
Which brings me to the major weakness of the novel. I can forgive all of the above if the story is compelling. But Hopkins instead falls back on too many predictable cliches and relies on melodrama and shock to compensate for under-characterization and lack of detail. A lot of bad things happen to the protagonist, but my emotional response is blunted by my lack of understanding of her motivations. The character, I guess, is supposed to be troubled and vulnerable and apparently carrying loads of Mommy issues. But the nature of these troubles is never brought to the fore, so the character comes across looking merely stupid, vapid, and appallingly selfish. One could say that that aptly describes the average teenager. But I tend to think they are a little more complex than that.
This was a fast read, so I might be willing to give another a try and see if they get any better. Or perhaps try another author who writes in this manner and see if the same faults manifest themselves. If not, then in the future, if I want to read books written in verse, I'll stick with Shakespeare or Milton.
9.5/10 stars. This book was really good. I loved it and I finished it in 2 sittings. I feel like this book was more factual than fiction because of the accurate descriptions of how Bree/Kristen went through "the monster" aka meth. It scared me a little bit on what meth does to you. Overall, this book was really nice and the ending was a little shock. I still love Impulse more in there, it was so real about deaths and everything, it scared me. This was also very real but in my heart, it tugs more to Impulse than Crank but I still am going to continue the trilogy. Better review soon.
Footnote: Ellen Hopkins in officially my favorite author.
If there was ever a bookish anthem for "just say no" this would definitely be the title that comes to mind. I've read Ellen Hopkins before; however, I never delved into her most iconic series which details the experiences of her daughter’s descent into addiction to crystal meth. Please be mindful that this book has a plethora of content warnings ranging from drug use to rape. It's extremely heavy so take that into consideration before picking this up.
Crank all too well illustrates how easy it is for some individuals to slip into addiction. For the main character Kristina, it simply takes a visit to her father. What follows next is Kristina's journey as she attempts to reckon with her addiction and hide it from family and friends. Hopkins utilizes the emergence of an alter-ego to explain how a shy and often unconfident young woman will do anything to maintain her supply of crystal meth. This definitely wasn't an easy read for me. While a quick and easy read due to it being written in free verse, I found so many different parts of Kristina’s story to be hard to navigate. There were moments when she wanted to tell someone of her addiction but grew fearful of the response or fearful of whether she would be able to survive without using. There were moments that I felt for Kristina's mother (who would be Ellen Hopkins as this is a fictionalized re-telling of her own experiences). How do you help your own child who has seemingly slipped into this dark world? Do you deny that they would ever be capable of such a thing? How do you get them help without isolating or pushing them way? Reading this as a parent had such a different meaning for me.
While it is true that this can be read as a cautionary tale of the dangers of drug use, it is also clear that drug addiction at its core is a substance abuse disorder, a mental illness. Although Kristina is destroying herself and her family, there are so many moments when I wanted to reach into the pages of this novel and offer her a helping hand. The things experienced by a woman battling drug addiction are so clearly outlined by Hopkins that it will make a reader want to close the book and never return to its pages. There is something to be stated about a writer's ability to capture so many different emotions in a single story that is written in verse. I'm not sure if Hopkins was able to get any relief in writing this story, but I sincerely hope that she did.
I picked this book out of my advisory grab bag and it's thickness made me a little nervous about having to tackle such a large book in a week in a half. But my hope leaped forward when a realized that this book was written in, yessss, poetry! Well I really wouldn't call them "poems" more like paragraphs with weird spacing, but those weird spaces created lots of blank space and a lot less words. Other than the shortening factor of the poetic layout, I really would have preferred a normal book. It was really annoying when the poems is written all on the left side of the page except the final word.
It made my head hurt. And even worse were the poems written so that it had seemingly random spaces and no order once so ever. I understand there must be a reason behind this but is this really necessary? No. It's not. No one wants to take the time to figure out how the heck to read this, but you're forcing them to. Yea yea "it symbolizes the disorganization of her life after doing meth blahblahblah" yea well I'm NOT doing meth and annoyingly spacing the words out is not going to entertain me, it's just not. On to the plot! Well I don't really think I am the preferred audience, teenage girl in New York, okay yea maybe I am. But it didn't surprise me all to much. Anyone who has seen a drug rehab lifetime movie presents could have guessed the story. Oh no! She'll do drugs! Oh no! But wait! Someone gets raped! Oh no! She'll have sex! And guess what else? YES! She's preggers! Oh my goodness! and if THAT wasn't enough drama for ya! THE RAPIST IS THE FATHER! I'm sure there are A LOT of people who will eat this secret life of teenagers drama right up like an apple pie. But I'm not one of those people. If you liked "Go Ask Alice" this is the book for you. If you didn't like it or even just didn't bother to read it, like yours truly, this is not the book for you. I guess it was just bad luck at a grab bag.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I read this book a very long time ago, so I was really excited when my book club-Diversity in All Forms- decided to read it. It gave me a chance to re-read this book and I didn't remember it at all. I only remembered that it was really good and I originally read it super fast. This book was great! Ellen Hopkins is so good at writing about difficult topics in YA form. I look forward to reading all her books through Diversity in All Forms! If you would like to join in the discussion for this book here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...
"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."
What is it with me and reading poetry/poetic prose in December? Last wonderful December, I really enjoyed Ariel by Sylvia Plath. Going through some things and I wanted to read something human, something personal for catharsis, to let it all go and I was about to reread Forbidden again when I chose this. Blew me away, such rawness. I'll say this and I'll say it again. Books help, they heal. Never stop reading.
Oddly enough, the MC here reminded me of the one in Underwater by Marisa Reichardt. But what I really loved about this novel was that it had no real ending. I like that. Because life does not have an ending. And if you think Death is an end, then I am afraid you haven't been paying much attention.
1. Quick read. The style of verse pulls you into Kristina's reality quickly and with a jolt. 2. Ellen Hopkins is able to convict a lot of raw emotion in very few words. 3. A dark and fast paced introduction to the destructive nature of drugs/meth. 4. Knowing that this story is loosely based on a true story (the author's daughter) made the read more impactful. 5. Intriguing to see how Kristina changes, especially moving from one environment to another. To see the monsters grasp wherever Kristina goes.
This book is definitely the best poetry book I have ever read. As soon as my teacher showed me this book and told me what it was about, I instantly wanted to read the book! Its a story about a girl and a "monster", which is a crystal meth and it is changing this what use to be a perfect girl. The best part of this book is the details on how the girl dealt with her addiction and how drugs can change a person. I learned how fast drugs can change someone. This book was fantastic and I recommend this book to ANYONE who wants a great poetry book!