Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crank--Ellen Hopkins

Crank Genre: Young Adult
Year Published: 2004
Pages: 544
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an intriguing title! Whatever could this book be about?

I had a lot of books donated to my classroom library this year, including the sequel to this book, Glass. I try to read as many of them as I can, so I can recommend them to and discuss them with my students, so I had to get Crank so I could read Glass. An interesting book, Crank. It is written as a series of poems which tell the story of a teenage girl who gets hooked on--you guessed it!--crank. (For those of you who aren't up on your street drug lingo, crank is a more concentrated form of crystal meth--aka speed). I figured it would be insufferable, but actually, it really isn't. The story flows remarkably fast, and most of the time you forget you're reading poetry (until something glaring hits you). The style is conversational, and sometimes annoyingly teenage, although that is the intended audience, and it only enters the world of pretentia part of the time.

My biggest issue with the book is the author's insistence upon calling the drug "the monster", which gets a little old by the end of the book. But most of the writing is just fine, and some of it is really nice, such as, "Hers is the face I wear/treading the riptide/fathomless oceans where/good girls drown." Or this, which really sums up the tentative teenage years to me: "I kept to the shadows,/observing the game/I hadn't dared play/absorbing the rules/with adhesive eyes." My second biggest issue is that it seems odd to me that the author is writing a story based on her daughter's struggles with drugs through her daughter's eyes. It weirds me out a little bit--I mean, isn't that sort of invasive? But the story is captivating, the writing is pretty good and sometimes really good, and it's a quick and easy read. I believe the author means it to be a cautionary tale, to stop kids from trying "the monster" aka drugs, but I'm not sure if it works as one. There is something decidedly alluring about Kristina's descent into debauchery; probably the same thing that draws kids to drug use in the first place. But the story rings mostly true and is thus better used as a warning than an embellished, outdated story like Go Ask Alice.

Challenges: None!
Book-a-Week #: 66
Date Read: 12/28/08

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