Book Review: Crank

by Emery W. 

When I was in high school, I had a best friend who (after being wrongfully sent to the town’s alternative high school during Junior year) started living her life in a downward spiral. She finally transferred back to our school, but I barely recognized who she was; she was high on marijuana most of the time, cut class, and went to raves every weekend. She’d quit doing color guard, and dropped out of honor’s classes.

Before I knew it, it was the night of our graduation, and I’d be going off to college at the end of the summer, and I had no idea what my best friend was doing.

The Fall of my freshman year at college, I picked up a thick book with an interesting cover simply titled Crank for the long bus trip to an away game. From the moment I opened the book, I felt like I was reading my best friend’s life from her eyes.


Crank by Ellen Hopkins tells the story of Kristina (who later begins referring to herself as Bree), and the events that led to her long and faithful history with hard drugs, sex, and journey to adulthood. The novel is loosely based on the life of Hopkins’ own daughter’s battle with drug addiction.

We begin the story with Kristina living in Reno with her mother, stepfather, and younger brother until she decides to visit her dead-beat father in Albuquerque. As a straight A honor roll student, Kristina didn’t delve much into the harder side of life; boys, sex, drinking, drugs, etc. Until she met Adam.

Over the span of her time with her father, Kristina (now known as Bree) becomes addicted to the same lifestyle she shares with her father.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you that this is one that I couldn’t put down. It put into perspective the thought processes of an addict, and why they do what they do, and what makes it so hard for them to stop.

The way Hopkins develops the character is unique in its own right because it is written in verse. I was confused a bit at first because I’d never read a novel in the style, but it made me yearn for more. Even though it’s a thick book, it didn’t take me long to read. I’d describe it as an absolute page-turner.

What’s great is that the book offers you the chance to both pity Kristina for her actions while simultaneously hate her for the destruction she brings to everyone important to her.

It’s classified as a YA novel, but definitely not a read for anyone who can’t handle vivid descriptions of sex, drugs, and some violence.

Ellen Hopkins has somehow managed to write a book that would make for an incredible film adaptation in the future. And this is only the first one! There are two sequels, Glass and Fallout that I urge everyone to read. If you can handle it. I’ve read quite a few of her YA novels (all which were written in verse), and continue to look forward to more. I’d rate this a solid 10/10.