Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

February 2, 2011
By DreaH SILVER, Earlham, Iowa
DreaH SILVER, Earlham, Iowa
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ." -Unknown

Dive In to Fallout
Ellen Hopkins’ latest novel, Fallout, is another haunting glimpse into what can happen to a family when drugs infiltrate it. The third novel of the Crank series, Fallout is a home run, effortlessly sewing together three life stories. Tales of three lives affected by the monster: crystal meth. The novel, written in compelling poetry, reels you in as if you were a part of the story the entire time. The first page intrigues readers right away: “We hear that life was good before she met the monster… [It] shaped our lives, without our ever touching it. Read on if you dare. This memoir isn’t pretty.”

In Hopkins’ first novel, Crank, she told the story of Kristina, a beautiful girl that was full of potential, until she tangoed with the monster. A summer away to her biological father’s house in Arizona put her in some bad situations, and she was hooked on crystal after only trying it once. She immediately spirals downward and horrible things ensue. She starts to have a different personality, an alter-ego, named Bree. She starts hanging with the wrong crowd and loses complete control. At one point, she gets raped and becomes pregnant with her first of five children, Hunter. In the second novel of the series, Glass, she continues dancing with the monster. Her and her family’s efforts to quit the addiction are futile. She gets pregnant again, and runs off with her boyfriend/drug-dealer of the week.

Fallout, however, is different. This novel takes a whole new view on Kristina: from the eyes of her three eldest children. Kristina is barely in this novel; it instead follows the damage and heartbreak she left in her wake, as her three teens struggle for identity. Hunter, Summer, and Autumn are all at different points in their lives, but there is one recurring theme: their mother. Two of the three kids do not even acknowledge that Kristina is their mom, simply calling her “Kristina” instead. As they struggle for their identities, Kristina is notably absent, rendezvousing with that vicious monster time and time again. When unforeseeable events lead these kids to the same place, secrets come out. In a fast-paced and exhilarating final scene, parallels between mother and children are revealed.

Although crystal meth, rape, and abuse are not easy subjects to breach, Ellen Hopkins does it with compassion and skill. Her books are written solely in free verse poetry, with hidden messages inside every one. Her proficiency in taking these tragedies and sending out a positive message for teens is remarkable. All three books are great in every aspect. I would recommend these books to all teenagers. There is something to be learned from every page. Parents might not want their kids to read of such atrocities like drugs and rape, but these books provide such a strong message against these things that it is okay. They are fast-paced and enticing, but they are also so painfully real that the reader will find themselves never, ever wanting to be in that situation. Ever.

Hopkins’ evocative poems speak out about one of the nation’s fastest growing drugs. She weaves an amazing story of three kids, haunted by their mother’s mistakes. They are each trying so hard not to be like her, though sadly even without the monster, they are similar. The entire Crank series is top-notch material. It is no surprise that all seven of her books have been on the New York Times bestseller list. Kudos to Hopkins, for taking an intimidating topic and making it even more detestable than it already was. These books are among my favorites, and I am sure they will keep on selling. So what are you waiting for? Pick one up and dive on in!

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