Crank (Crank #1) by Ellen Hopkins

Posted on August 4, 2014 by Regina | 0 Comments

Crank (Crank #1) by Ellen HopkinsCrank by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank #1
Published by McElderry Books on October 1, 2004
Pages: 537
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank. 
Soon, her grades plummet, her relationships with family and friends deteriorate, and she needs more and more of the monster just to get through the day. Kristina hits her lowest point when she is raped by one of her drug dealers and becomes pregnant as a result. Her decision to keep the baby slows her drug use, but doesn't stop it, and the author leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Kristina/Bree may never be free from her addiction.

I had ulterior motives for reading this book. I was doing research on the correlation between drug addiction and sexual promiscuity among adolescent girls who grew up with an absentee or poor father figure.(Don’t ask.) I really wanted to read something that was structured like a novel after scouring statistical research articles about the topic, and that’s how I stumbled upon Ellen Hopkins’ work.

I would not call this book enjoyable but it’s definitely worth a read. If you or someone you know has struggled with addiction then this book might have an almost cathartic effect. It’s strangely comforting to be able to read about someone else’s POS experience with drugs/an addict and vigorously nod your head in commensurate disbelief with the author while ”watching” the narrator spiral downwards.

This book is written in verse and serves the story well after Kristina/Bree, the protagonist, starts testing the murky waters of drugs and sex. The style gives the novel a very living-for-the-next-fix-kind-of-hazy feel.

When Kristina finds herself surrounded by this ”drugs are a normal part of life” subculture while visiting her dad, she has many first experiences: drugs, alcohol and first-thru-third base to name a few.

Although the author is writing this novel based on her daughter, it never feels like she’s standing on a soap box or trying to preach about the perils of experimenting with drugs and promiscuity in high-school. Crank truly comes off as an objective sociological surveillance.

Just Before the Drop

You know how you

stand and stand and stand

in line for the most

gigantic incredible roller


you’ve ever dared attempt.

Anticipation swelling,

minute by minute by minute,

you choose to wait even

longer, to ride in the front


and finally it’s your turn.

They buckle you in, lock

the safety bar with a jolting clunk!

Hook engaged, the chain jerks

you forward. You start to



Cresting the top, time

moves into overtime

as you wait for that scant

hesitation, just before you


knowing you can’t turn back.

You know how you feel

at that instant? Well, that’s

exactly how it feels when you

shake hands with the



Crank is an anxiety-filled, sometimes gut-wrenching story of a girl who loses her worldly-innocence and the people around her that couldn’t see she needed help until her addiction and bad-judgement irrevocably change her life forever. It’s not fun reading, but I think teens and parents would both benefit from reading it. Have you read Crank or any other books by Ellen Hopkins or similar books by other authors? What were your thoughts?


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Classical music nerd by day, freelance writer and blogger by night. When I review books, I don't dish out and rehash every character and detail. What's the point of reading a book if you give most of the deets away in a review??? My reviews are more about my impressions and over all experience with the book. I am also a world-renowned armchair psychologist, and love to psychoanalyze authors.

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