I read a lot of YA novels (YA=young adult). Sometimes, I’m exhausted by the tropes, the familiar “let me explain this story to you” sequence, or the simple writing. Other times, I’m amazed by how a coming-of-age story–the kind of story authors have been writing for eons–can come across as fresh, meaningful and touching. “Crank” is one of those stories.
By touching, I don’t mean it’s sweet and sappy. Highly to the contrary. But here are three things that make it amazing, and by extension, three reasons I could NOT put it down. 537 pages in one day. It was worth it. Enter “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins.
1. The book is written like poetry. Every page is a little bit like this ^^. As a poet myself, I loved that style. At first, I thought it would be jarring, hard to get into. Rather, it just makes it that much easier for you to fall into the book and not come out. Sometimes, I’m amazed at the way Ellen Hopkins frames the words on the page and connects how the words look to what the words mean.
2. The book is piercing. It hits you at the heart, making you remember what it was like to be a teenager, or to be in love, or to be confused about what to do. Or to be trapped by something so powerful, you can’t let it go. What it’s like to be scared. The main crux of the novel is the process that turns a “good girl” named Kristina into a drug addict named Bree. On one trip to visit her father, Kristina renames herself Bree, falls in love with a bad boy, then becomes addicted to crank, also known as meth. She calls it the monster.
3. The book rings true. It’s been banned in various places across America–drug use obviously, sexual themes, etc. are a little too much for some librarians, I suppose–but banned books often hold truth. Many times, that’s why people don’t like them. This one, though, shows you what addiction does to people, and how fast it can occur. It certainly made me glad I’ve never done meth. But I could recognize the feeling of being addicted to something that hurts you. Almost everyone has some kind of negative addictive experience, even if it’s just a bad relationship.
It’s books like this that not only show us the addiction of the character, but also hold up a mirror to our own addictions. Books like this say, hey, recognize yourself? Then maybe you need a change. When a book shows us the horrors of where we might go, it helps us decide whether to take that path. I’m convinced dystopian novels are trying to do just that, but on a greater scale.
All in all, it was a great book. I encourage you to read it. 5/5 stars
Have you read “Crank”? What did you think? Do you think books with drug use, violence or sexual themes should be banned without further ado? Or do you find them valuable?