Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I was walking through Barnes and Noble (inadvertent plug there) with no particular intent on purchasing a book last weekend. I remember specifically thinking that I had piles of books to read, all of them collecting dust. Actually, most of them are boxed away in a storage unit waiting for a new home to spread out in, but that's another story.

So it was very much my surprise when, after glancing through the "Teen" section, I chanced upon a book by Ellen Hopkins called Crank. A black cover with the word "crank" written in powdery yellowish letters. I picked it up, opened it up to the first page contained the following lines: "Life was good before I met the monster After, life was great, At least, for a little while." I read the dedication next, and then reread the intro lines. A sorry pun intended, I was hooked. I began reading the novel a little while longer, but immediately mentioned to my wife that this was something I would like to have. She always likes to buy things for me, and I rarely want stuff, so I make sure to let her know when the occasion does arise. Anyway, with the book purchased, I took it home and the next day began reading it.

To give a brief description of the novel:

Written in verse, the novel is a collection of poems that narrates the unfolding of one girl's addiction to methamphetamines. That is all I feel I can really say without giving away too much. I know it's not much of a description, but then again, I did say it would be brief.

The novel is intriguing and should keep most readers engaged completely. However, if you are not one who simply rejects all forms of poetry, then this novel is not for you. For those that keep open minds, but may not have liked the 'traditional' poetry read in their past, this is not Shakespeare. That neither diminishes Hopkins's work nor Shakespeare’s, but it’s to say that Crank is more like a striped down version of a traditional novel. After leaving out punctuation (most at least), paragraph structure, complete sentences, and bogged-down lines explaining the minute details, what's left is a hot-rod sleek story that goes full-throttle, relentlessly taking the reader along the ride that is called "the monster."

As I mentioned before, I finished the book within a day. A note for readers, I am an extremely slow reader and usually take a summer to read one novel. If you're like me, you might find the verse liberating, allowing your imagination to fill in the details while you can wrap yourself around the emotions and tragedy of Kristina Snow.

So far, I've made this seem like the greatest novel ever. Well, to be honest, it is depressing in terms of story line. The reader does not receive a warm fuzzy at the end, even though the resolution is more upbeat and positive than the rest. Also, Hopkins's way presenting the worst case scenario out of many of the events (ex. the main character becomes addicted after her first use, and she gets pregnant after the first time having sex) leaves the reader feeling somewhat incredulous.

Overall, it is a great read, and I suggest all to read it. I will be passing along my copy soon!

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