Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review of CRANK

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
4 1/2 Stars

One of the most original books I have ever read, and the first modern story that I have come across where the narrative is poetically structured. Even though my mother is a published poet and my daughter is a talented poet, poetry has never really interested me that much. I can write it, but I don't usually want to - and that includes reading it. So, I'm coming from a viewpoint where I tend to veer away from anything to do with poetry. BUT, this is not an average poetry book because the narrative and cleverly constructed composition, and use of wording, swept me along. Although I read a few chapters then set the book aside for months (a stupid thing to do), once I picked it back up again I finished it within a few days. I shouldn't have put it aside to start with, because Kristina's/Bree's story was really interesting. She starts off as a good, innocent sixteen-year-old who goes visiting her father, then comes across a boy who she falls in love with. But, Adam is not the real love of her life, because this is where Kristina also meets the monster, AKA Meth (Crank), and falls head over heels with this drug. And from this one meeting/experience she allows "the monster" to eventually take over her life. So, when she returns home she goes out of her way to get her hands on "the monster" again and because of her infatuation/addiction she ends up getting herself into A LOT of trouble.

Basically, this story should be taught in schools, because it shows how drugs can ruin your life. Also, it will teach children some very unique ways of conveying themselves through poetry. But, don't think this is about rhyming, because it's not, poetry encompasses a range of techniques, and the rhyming technique isn't a factor in this story. The author instead uses some very clever turn of phrases and word coupling, metaphors, etc. and places them into interesting patterns, some of which can have double meanings if you pay close enough attention. For example, on some pages, if you read the story in the tradition left to right manner like most western books, you get a flowing story, but if you see some words separated off to the left (or right) don't move to the next page until you read them vertically, because occasionally you will find a message running downwards, like on page 293-294, where it says:








You will also (very often) get Kristina's/Bree's (her alter ego) thoughts and dialogue on one side and another character's dialogue on the other. However, although I use the word "characters", they didn't feel like fictional constructions, but instead they all came across as real people, which made me feel like I was probing into someone's life, and eavesdropping into their conversations. (This book is based on the author's daughter, which also puts credence to this feeling).

Overall, I am extremely impressed. So, don't let the unusual structure put you off, like it almost did for me, because there is a fantastic story within these VERY cleverly structured pages.

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