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!

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.


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!