Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: October 5 2004
Read: August 20-21 2012
In A Few Words: Intense, different
My Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads:Add to your TBR pile
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.
Soon, her grades plummet, her relationships with family and friends deteriorate, and she needs more and more of the monster just to get through the day. Kristina hits her lowest point when she is raped by one of her drug dealers and becomes pregnant as a result. Her decision to keep the baby slows her drug use, but doesn't stop it, and the author leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Kristina/Bree may never be free from her addiction.
I've never read anything by Hopkins before, so this was very different for me. It's an intense read.
I have to admit, it took me a while to get used to the fact that it's written in verse, but I really grew to like it. I liked the way that writing it in verse allowed Hopkins to play with the words and their arrangements on the page, like the formation of V's when Kristina is talking about her virginity, or the cascading slopes when she describes her descent into madness. I also liked how in some of the pages, the words are spaced in such a way that you can get two different meanings out of them. If you read them all together, as part of the story, it can mean one thing, but then when you read the separated words on their own in a line it can mean something completely different. Writing the story this way really makes you think.
I did feel bad for Kristina at one point, because it seemed like her family was kind of dysfunctional, and they really didn't pay all that much attention to her. I also felt for her when she got raped, because that's just wrong. But in the end, she put herself in her situation with the choices she made and she's the only one who can help herself out of the drug addicted haze, so I felt, I don't know, indifferent to her in that regard I guess.
I have to admit that I was disappointed right of the bat at the very first page at one thing in particular. I suppose I'm the only one to blame for this since had I read the synopsis first I would have known already. But, everyone raves about Ellen Hopkins so I didn't even think to read the synopsis before starting this. Since it's in the synopsis anyway, I don't really think I'm spoiling things by saying that I was disappointed to read about "the baby" in the book on the very first page prior to even beginning the story. I think putting that out there on the first page wasn't really necessary. It spoils a major plot point right in the beginning. You could have let the story build up to that without announcing it beforehand. It would have been more effective if there had just been a note added at the end. But, I suppose it doesn't really matter either way, it was just a little annoying as a spoiler when I first read it.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading more of Hopkins' work. I'd recommend this to anyone looking to try reading a new and unique way of writing a story.