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Crank Paperback – October 1, 2004

495 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Crank Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Ellen Hopkins's semi-autobiographical verse novel, Crank, reads like a Go Ask Alice for the 21st century. In it, she 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. In the author's note, Hopkins warns "nothing in this story is impossible," but when Kristina's controlled, high-powered mother allows her teenage daughter to visit her biological father (a nearly homeless known drug user), the story feels unbelievable. Still, the descriptions of crystal meth use and its consequences are powerful, and will horrify and transfix older teenage readers, just as Alice did over 20 years ago. --Jennifer Hubert

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into "Bree" after she "shakes hands with the monster." Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, "convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I'd want to be." When Kristina goes home, things don't return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her "starving for speed" and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the "monster" can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina's spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future.–Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Crank Series
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; First Simon Pulse Edition edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689865198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689865190
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (495 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I was adopted at birth and raised by a great, loving older couple. I grew up in Palm Springs CA, although we summered in Napa and Lake Tahoe, to avoid those 120 degree summers. After my adopted parents died, I did find my birth mother, who lives in Michigan with my half sister.

I studied journalism in college, but left school to marry, raise kids and start my own business--a video store, before the mega-chains were out there. After a divorce, I met my current husband and we moved to Tahoe to become ski bums and otherwise try to find our dreams. At that time, I went to work for a small alternative press, writing stories and eventually editing.

When we moved down the mountain to the Reno area, I started writing nonfiction books, many of which you can see here. The rest are viewable on my personal website. I also continued to freelance articles for newspapers and magazines.

All that has changed, with the publication of my novel, CRANK, which has led to a valued career writing YA novels in verse, all of which explore the more difficult situations young adults often find themselves in. Will I ever write one in prose? No doubt! But, for the moment, writing novels in verse fulfills two needs: writing poetry and writing fiction. The combination is so interesting!

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#95 in Books > Teens
#95 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
This story of a teenager who becomes addicted to crank is a book that parents as well as teenagers should read. The sparse poetry conveys the power of the addiction so much more intensely than prose ever could.

As a parent, it was especially scary to see how quickly "the monster" claimed this young girl. The message of this book is so strong because it is never preachy or overdramitized. It comes across very true and real.

I read "Go Ask Alice" when I was a teenager and this book strikes the same emotions.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tagurit on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Have your teen or preteen read this book. The size of the book makes it look challenging, but the first page reaches out and grabs you for a fast, powerfully frightening read. I had my girls read it and they were both deeply impressed with Kristina/Bree's downhill slide into drug abuse. It's hard edged and realistic, so it's scary. Ellen conveys the emotion of the roller-coaster ride called Crank with honesty, vivid imagery and a style that will keep you asking for more.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on October 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
These books are intense and thought-provoking, and though they may appeal to more mature readers, they're not to be missed!


Kristina was an average teen until the monster took hold of her. A visit to her estranged father the summer before her senior year of high school introduces her to the wrong guy, and he gets her hooked on crystal meth. When she's high, her alter-ego, Bree, takes control. She's everything that Kristina is not: promiscuous, rude, assertive--and powerful. After Kristina returns home, she finds herself in a battle for control between what's right and what the monster demands.

Ellen Hopkins' first book is one that will blow you away. Kristina is a character that you get to know intimately through the first person narrative in verse form, making her story quite absorbing and very easy to read. Hopkins tells Kristina's tale in a frank, direct way, leaving nothing out--from her lowest moment to how she feels when she is high and everything in between. Bree is an interesting element to the story, because rather than excuse Kristina's behavior, she magnifies that idea that once you become addicted, the most manipulative and desperate part of you is released, intent on finding that next fix.

Though this book focuses on some of the toughest issues facing society today, it is important and could be used as a tool to educate teens on the horrors of addiction and how easily things can spin out of control. This engrossing, horrifying, and painfully honest book will make you cringe, but also make you laugh with its surprising moments of humor, oftentimes dark, but mostly it'll have you hoping that against all odds, somehow Kristina will straighten up.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly on June 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
In April one of my favourite Goodreads friends started reading this book and when she finished she was so impressed that she recommend that I read it for a second time, even though she knew I read it already and was not impressed. Her hopes were to convert me into loving this author but alas, her hopes were in vain.

You see when the book was first published back when I was a teenager struggling with my own issues I read this one. Even back then though I knew the book was not for me. Fast forward 8 years to where I'm now in my early 20's and my opinion of the book and the author hasn't changed all that much.

True my views on the world have changed, and I'm no longer a confused and angry teen but even now I could not enjoy the author's writing style and believe me this time around I really wanted to like it since it came so highly reccomended to me but for me this book was not.

Kristina/Bree was an annoying little twit before and after she discovered crank and lost herself to the drug. I know that the book is loosley based on the life of the author's daughter who had substance abuse problems as a teen so I mean no disrespect but honestly I just found Kristina/Bree to be such a whiney little cow. I really did but maybe it's because I disliked the writing style so much.

I don't know about you but I really don't enjoy novels written in the form of poetic verse like this one was written. I don't like how the books like these are written because for my brain (which happens to enjoy books being written in the traditional way) hates how these novels come off fragmented but I can't help it.
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42 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Guilty of Pleasure on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
No doubt about it: Crank will draw you in and sweep you along. Like crystal meth, the book's silent antagonist, Crank is quick to occupy your mind and hard to walk away from.

But it's not scary enough. I was ready for a harsh look at how the drug can destroy a teen's (or anyone's) life. That's not exactly how it turns out, despite the author's dire warnings.

Kristina, the main character, is a Good Girl. But one trip to see her druggie, estranged father, and she becomes Bree, a Bad Girl. Bree does meth. Bree flirts. Bad enough, sure, but that's really the worst Bree does for most of the book.

Back home, Bree has a hard time re-adjusting to Kristina's world. And all she wants is meth.

Spoiler: Things should have gone from bad to worse to worst. Instead, they go from bad to worse to just fine. So Bree/Kristina gets raped, but later she implicates herself because she wanted drugs from the boy (nevermind that he was a clean-cut, nearly Good Boy himself). From the rape, she gets pregnant. But the pregnancy is a blessing in disguise, because it forces her to kick meth, and tobacco, for the sake of her baby. And though she considers abortion, she miraculously feels the baby kick and decides to be a mother. She briefly considers adoption, but her friend knows someone who almost did that, changed her mind and then murdered the baby, so that, apparently, is a good reason to abandon that path.

In the end, she graduates with her class, has a beautiful (albeit not perfect) baby, and the support of her family. Oh, and she finds true love with a smart, successful, undyingly supportive guy along the way.

Give me a break. The girl doesn't even get arrested (she goes to juvie once, but it's only because she was out late. Seriously.).
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