Crank by Ellen Hopkins

For whatever reason, books depicting harrowing drug use among teenagers have always and probably will always appeal to me. Crank is certainly one of those books.

We follow the life of teenager Kristina (alter ego Bree) as she finds herself going down a path she’d rather not go. Her parents are divorced, and she goes to visit her dad for a few weeks. Her dad doesn’t exactly walk the straightest of lines. While she’s there, she meets a boy: Adam. Adam’s no Boy Scout, either (actually, I don’t like that expression, but I’m using it anyway. Deal.).  Soon, Kristina finds herself using crank (meth). She calls it the monster. And that’s exactly what it is.

The book then goes to tell her story. Her ups. Her downs. Her struggles. Her changes in appetite, attitude, and friends. Her desire to be with boys. Her desire to be with the monster.

There are a couple things I really like about this book. One: it’s first-person. It has to be. That alone is how we can really get in the mind of this girl. We really see the way her family cares for her, but it’s tainted through Kristina/Bree’s vantage point. This is a great study in unreliable narration at times. Two: it’s a novel in verse. With such an emotionally-charged plot (drugs will do that), the poetry really helps with this. And it’s well-written poetry.

There are, though, some things I don’t really like about it. Well, one thing in particular. It didn’t seem real to me. It didn’t seem to go far enough into what this addiction would be like. It might be real (and is, in fact, loosely based on a true story), but it just didn’t do enough for me. Maybe it’s because I’m desensitized or something. But I wanted more from this book as far as what the drug did to her. I wanted it to be worse than it was, I suppose.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in such a book, but definitely high school age and up. In addition to the explicit drug use, there is quite a bit of language and some other highly sensitive scenes that I think would be too much for a younger audience.

My rating: 3 out of 5 fish.


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