Quick review for a very quick read, in part because this was a novel that was written entirely in verse form. “Crank” is Ellen Hopkins’s first novel. I’m reading this *years* after the fact, and I’ll admit it had my attention and sentiments for much of the read. I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook version, as Laura Flanagan does a great job of enunciating the emotional resonance and cadence of the poetry of the book (though some parts of this, you couldn’t even tell it was poetry for the way it comes across. Others, in terms of the sparse, image focused narration, it is more apparent).
The story revolves around Kristina, a girl lost to an addiction to crystal meth. She’s already struggling with identity issues and a strained relationship with her family (father an addict himself, mother and her family at a distance), but Kristina’s problems take a sharper descent as she becomes hooked on what she refers to as “Crank” or experiencing the “Monster”. The book is a very easy/quick read (I finished this audiobook easily in four hours, which is pretty much a lunch break, commuting times and my usual bedtime reading spell for me in terms of a listen). However, the subject matter’s quite heavy, dealing with drug use, rape, and other tough subjects addressed within the scheme of Kristina’s experiences. I definitely had moments where I felt for this girl, though others made me want to throw the book at her. I think the story had moments of deeper emotional connection, but I don’t know if the poetic form really helped delve into some parts of the story, because I felt like there were other details missing here. The story goes by in a flashing blur, probably (interestingly enough) mimicking the highs and lows that Kristina feels as she’s experiencing her addiction and projected identity of Bree. That was a good use of narrative emotional juxtaposition, though I wish I could’ve had a little more from the experience as far as other details and relationships were concerned. I got a glimpse, but I didn’t feel like I got the entire story, and by the time I was thinking I’d get more – the novel was over with a very quick resolution that left me somewhat unsatisfied.
I’ll definitely read the next novel in Hopkins series to see where Kristina/Bree ends up, and I’m more than intrigued to see how Hopkins other works translate in the poetry/audio narrative form because I think it was an interesting way to delve into some of the tough subjects addressed here, despite some caveats.
Overall score: 3/5 stars.