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?’

*

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!

Crank – book review

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank is a compelling and unforgettable book, written by Ellen Hopkins.

Kristina was a bright and good teenager, but now that Kristina is gone. In her place is Bree – dangerous, up for anything, and craving the monster known as Crank, the highly addictive drug.

Kristina begins to transfer into Bree on a trip to visit her largely absent and negative influencing father when she meets Adam. Kristina had felt the presence of her brave and flirty alter-ego even before the trip that changed everything, but with the desire to be someone else, Bree takes over. Spiralling into addiction, Kristina struggles to regain control of her life. Is it too late? Has Bree taken control for good?

*

Crank was such a mesmerising and compelling book and I loved reading it. This was the third book I’ve read by Ellen Hopkins, Impulse and Rumble are the other two I’ve read, and I absolutely love her style of writing. If you don’t already know, Ellen’s books are written in the form of free verse poetry and it’s absolutely beautifully written. In some ways though, her books are very confronting because of the way they’re written. It seems like everything is very blunt and too the point because of her writing style and it makes all her books just that more shocking and real and heartbreaking. There’s no sugarcoating or side-tracking in her books, just brutal honesty and words that will burn a place in your mind forever.

This book isn’t a pretty book. Yes, Ellen’s writing style is beautiful and poetic, but also harsh and sometimes confronting. This book tells the story of a young adult’s addiction to the monster known as Crank, which in itself is heartbreaking. The things this girl goes through are devastating and they felt so real. This book is apparently loosely based off the story of Ellen’s own daughter, which gives this book such a realistic feel. I never really thought of what it must be like to be the family or friend of someone with an addiction as bad as Kristina’s. Reading this book not only showed me what it would be like for the person with the addiction, but it was also devastating to see how the family and friends of the person addicted to this destructive substance were affected. This book really shows how that the friends and family of that person could often be in denial as much as the addict herself. These people would try to believe there was a good excuse for everything that had been going on, but the more Kristina struggled to gain control of her life again, the more the shocking reality of what was really going on was driven home.

The thing that haunted me most about this book was that, like Kristina, I was under the belief that she had her addiction under control. It wasn’t until towards the end of the book that I realised both Kristina and I had been deluding ourselves and we didn’t see just how much of an affect Crank could have. It definitely was like a monster, always lurking in the darkness and whispering to Kristina when she was most vulnerable. Seeing Kristina’s downward spiral was truly devastating. I believe a lot of people don’t realise what having an addiction to this type of drug can do to both oneself and their family and friends.

One of the things I loved most about this book was that it didn’t shy away from any issues. However deeply unsettling it may be, this book shows the truth of what some people’s lives are like. The devastating reality of what some people have to deal with is confronting at times, but necessary to read about. This is the book that gives a voice to the often voiceless people of those affected by substance addiction both personally and through the lives of others. This book is truly nothing like I’ve ever read before and it was so captivating and it will definitely stay with me for a long time.

Another thing that was really great about this book was the transition Kristina took to become Bree. Bree wasn’t created from Crank, but she made everything that came after happen. Bree had existed within Kristina before, but Kristina didn’t ever let her loose until the day she wanted to be someone else; someone confident and flirty and up for anything. Kristina becoming Bree was remarkably realistic and it felt like a lot of people would have these different personalities beneath their surfaces, and only some people choose to let them out while others do not. I think that a lot of people would be able to relate to this because I think a lot of people I know and have read about often have a braver, more exciting part to them which often contrasts to the person’s rational thinking. Bree to Kristina is like the little devil from those cartoons and movies, sitting on your shoulder and telling you to do what is often not the right thing. But the thing is, often that voice is very persuading and people might give into it because the suggestion might be enticing or sound like a good idea at the time.

Overall, I really loved Crank. It’s brutally honest and sometimes very confuting and I admit that the writing style and the issues in this book might not be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend you give the books written by Ellen Hopkins a try if you haven’t already. If I had to choose which one of Ellen’s books I preferred, I would say Rumble, only beating Crank by a hair. I’d give Crank a score of 8.5 out of 10. If you’ve read this book or any other books by Ellen Hopkins, 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!