Tricks – book review

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks is a heartbreaking and emotional book, written by Ellen Hopkins.

Five teenagers from all across American with seemingly different lives are all searching for similar things – freedom, safety, community, family, love. But what these people don’t expect is that the three little words ‘I love you’ can be said for all the wrong reasons.

These five moving stories remain separate at first, and then intertwine to tell a larger, more powerful story – one of making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up all the while asking, ‘Can I ever feel okay about myself?’

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Like all the other books I’ve read by Ellen Hopkins, I really enjoyed reading Tricks. If you’ve heard of Ellen Hopkins or if you’ve read any of her books, you’ll know that each of her books tackles big problems in the form of free-verse poetry. This book was no exception. Tricks is a book about teenage prostitution – and there’s no sugar coating it. This book faces issues head on and because it’s written in such a way that there’s only about fifteen or so words on each page, meaning there’s no room for putting things lightly. It was definitely a really interesting books and I’m very happy I read it because I really didn’t know much about this topic.

When I first started reading this book, I got a little confused to which character was talking. Because this book revolves around the lives of five characters, I initially felt as though each character’s chapter was too short and that I wasn’t getting enough of an idea as to what they were like and what there situation was. I felt as though there were too many switches and that meant I didn’t get enough time to understand all the characters. As the book progressed, I slowly got more of an idea as to what was going on with each person and I liked getting to know them better.

This book did feel a little short and a bit rushed in some places. Some of the decision-making that should have taken a while happened in a matter of pages and some of the character developments felt too quick. By the time I really got to understand the characters, I would have been one third of the way into the book. This book would really have benefitted from having more space for each of the characters in the chapters. Perhaps even if there were three or four characters, not five. I felt like I would have really understood the people more if I spent more time with each of them. Nevertheless, I found the lives of the characters really interesting once they hit ‘rock bottom’, so to speak. Before that, the book was a little dull, but I understood we needed some background to really care about these people.

This book is both intriguing and heartbreaking, and the more I read, the more devastating it became. It’s really a jolt into reality, because I think this is an issue that is hardly spoken about. I didn’t even know that much about it before reading this book. I feel as though the issues that Ellen Hopkin’s tackles are really important things to read about because they’re often not really discusses in this way. Ellen really doesn’t hold back, and that meant I had tears in my eyes on quite a number of occasions. The characters that I didn’t really feel anything for initially became people I cried over in the end, because no matter how much I didn’t like them, no person should ever have to suffer the fates that these people did. My heart just broke to them to see them have to resort to the things that they did.

This book isn’t an easy book to read it’s intense and emotional, but I do think that everyone should read it. This wasn’t my favourite book by Ellen Hopkins, but I still really enjoyed it and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re interested in reading about topics that are generally not discussed or written about. I’d give Tricks by Ellen Hopkins a score of 8 out of 10. If you’ve read any books by Ellen Hopkins, let me know what you thought of them. Do you like her writing style? Which book is your favourite? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Rumble – book review

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins is a raw and powerful book about faith, blame and forgiveness.

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything. Not in his family, which was left in chaos and disarray after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in his so-called friends who simply turn their backs and ignore the problems when things get hard. Not in some higher being who allows too many bad things to happen in the world. And definitely not in everything and everyone who keeps on telling him that things will get better. How could things possibly get better after something like this?

No matter what Matt’s girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, Matt just can’t let go of the blame and the guilt. He’s determined to ‘live large and go out with a bang’, but a horrifying event plunges Matt into a dark and silent space. But then he hears a rumble. This rumble wakes him up and calls everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

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I really enjoyed reading Rumble. This was the second book by Ellen Hopkins that I’ve read. Ever since reading Impulse, I’ve desperately wanted to read another book by Ellen. I loved her style of writing. Both of her books that I’ve read have been written in free verse poetry. It’s a really different way of writing a novel, but somehow, Ellen just makes it work. The way the free verse poems sit on the page is really cool. This book is written in first person so when the main character speaks, it’s in speech marks like a normal book. When another character speaks, their speech is indented and in italics. Admittedly, it does take a little while to get used to this style of writing. However once you’re used to it, this book really flies by. This book didn’t feel long at all because I absolutely sped through it and didn’t want to stop reading it. Again, this is a book I read in a day. That’s becoming quite a habit for me. I never know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because sometimes I want to savour the book because it’s so amazing, but at the same time, I want to know what happens in the end. Rumble is definitely one of those books. It was highly addictive.

One thing I really liked about this book was the plot. If you’ve read any other books by Ellen Hopkins, you’ll know that most of the things she writes is really dark and deep. I said this in my Impulse review as well, but I wouldn’t recommend reading these books if you don’t enjoy reading dark and emotional stuff. Even though I enjoyed reading this book, this isn’t a book that I’d reread again in a hurry just because of how heavy it is. I’m really glad I read it though, because this book definitely discusses some important themes like dealing with someone close to you committing suicide, making good relationships with those around you, having faith in a religion, and having faith in yourself. This book is fundamentally about a boy whose younger brother committed suicide after being bullied for so long about being gay. Matt, the main character and older brother, struggles to deal with his loss and the anger he holds for those who ultimately caused his brother’s death. Matt also doesn’t have very strong relationships with his family and his girlfriend is somewhat unsupportive of his actions and his lack of belief in religion. This book is quite depressing at points, but it had interesting characters and strong themes, so I felt like it was definitely worth my time.

Matt was an intriguing character. In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t really connect with him. It took me a little while to fully understand him and his actions. Once I got to know him, I really liked spending time with him. At first, he was introduced as a somewhat angry teenager with a multitude of flaws. In the end, I loved Matt, flaws and all. After all, flaws are what makes a person human. Matt seemed to be a big ball of anger in the beginning. He was angry at his parents for not excepting his brother for being gay, he was angry at the kids at his school who bullied him, and at god for seemingly turning his back on him. Most of all, he blamed himself for what happened. I liked seeing his journey from that angry teenager to someone who understood what had happened and found a way to forgive not only his parents and the kids at his school, but also himself. All of the characters in this book were really well developed. I felt like I knew all of them really well, even the ones we didn’t get much time with. Every person was different and every person had their own story. I liked the individuality of everyone and I liked seeing their lives intertwine.

Surprisingly, I really liked reading about the religious aspects in this book. I’m not a religious person and I’m often aware that some books are trying to force feed you information on the religion that the author believes in. However, this book is in no way that type of book. The religious aspect in this book was done very well and it played a somewhat major role in the story. Because this book is all about blame and forgiveness, it ties in really well. It asks questions about what happens after death and if there really is a supreme being watching over us, and if that being is capable of turning its back on a select few for being ‘unworthy’. Matt often questioned the existence of such a being because he asked questions like, how can their be a supreme being if there’s so much hatred in the world and how can this being let such tragic and awful things happen? I found his perspective on religion and higher beings very relatable and I understood his anger towards the people who believed the higher beings were disapproving of his younger brother’s homosexuality. I felt like this was definitely an interesting contribution to the book.

The ending of this book was definitely unexpected. By the end of the book, I felt so connected to all of the characters. I felt like the ending could have been drawn out a little bit longer because it felt as though everything ended too soon, but I was happy with the ending nonetheless. Everything was tied up neatly and this book definitely fulfilled my hopes. I’d give Rumble by Ellen Hopkins a score of 8.5 out of 10. If this sounds like the type of book you’d be interested in or if you’ve read some of Ellen’s other books, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!