Ellen Hopkins is by far one of my all-time favorite authors. Her novels, which are written as free verse poetry, deal with very real, very difficult, issues faces by teenagers. While she is primarily known for her Young Adult novels which include: Crank, Glass, Fallout, Burned, Impulse, Perfect, Tilt, Identical, and Tricks, with a sequel to to Burned (Smoke) planned to be released in September of this year, she has also written two books for adults: Triangles and Collateral. She has won several awards for her novels, including multiple awards for the Crank trilogy.
Ellen Hopkins’s novels often take readers to a darker side of human nature, dealing with topics such as teen drinking, drug use, suicide, and sexual content, and as such make her novels are a best fit for high-school aged readers. That being said she handles these issues with a great deal of poise and insight. Her books take a look at not only the issues, but the underlying causes of them. Hopkins raises some tough questions and really causes the reader to think.
Even though her novels deal with some heavy topics, they are very captivating to read. Her novels feature strong characterizations and engaging plot lines. Even if the reader had never had to deal with the issues being presented there is a strong sense of connection between the character and the reader. Hopkins avoids writing stereotype heavy teenage characters and really creates a believable person. The adult characters (mainly parents and other family members) are also very well developed, something I feel most YA novels fail to do.
While her novels tend to be on the longer side, typically well over 400 pages, the story lines move quickly because of the free verse style that they are written in. The formatting itself adds a lot to the story, sometimes the words of a poem forms pictures, other times certain words are set apart from the rest of the poem for added impact. This is also true of the dialogue which makes it easy to follow something I think most novels composed in a free verse format don’t do well.
Hopkins’s first YA novel, Crank, was published in 2004. Crank tells a fast-paced story about a young girl named Kristina Georgia and what happens when her alter-ego “Bree” takes over and she finds herself spiraling into addiction of crystal meth. I found this novel to be very intriguing and very believable, part of which probably has to do with the fact that is it based on the addiction of Hopkins’ own daughter.
My favorite novel by Hopkins is a tie between Identical, which drew me in quickly and continues to demand my attention all the way through to the final shocking plot twist, and Burned, which deals with abuse and left me wanting more to know what happens next.
Ellen Hopkins is an amazing author and her novels are truly a must-read for anyone looking for a captivating preservative on tough issues.
-Angela J., 12th grade