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Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Fallout? I think not...

In Ellen Hopkins’ third and final addition to the Crank trilogy, entitled Fallout (published in 2010), Kristina Georgia Snow is somehow still finding trouble. However, this time the author takes a completely different direction with her “beloved” main character. By focusing on the thoughts and emotions of three of Kristina’s children, Hopkins delves even deeper into the life of this troubled teenager that we have been following for the previous two novels (Crank and Glass). After all of her terrible adventures with crystal meth, and nameless other drugs, Hopkins leads us past the awful twisting story of Kristina, and takes us into the lives of a few of her children, Autumn, Hunter, and Summer. In Fallout, Ellen Hopkins does a wonderful job of characterization, has an amazing skill for telling stories, and continues to tell her (a little bit too) unbelievable tales to her audiences.

In giving the Crank series a new voice through the voices of Kristina’s children, Hopkins introduces us into a whole new realm of reality of this mixed up family. Throughout the novel Fallout, the children take turns telling their stories. Though they are not familiar with each other, and, in some cases, aren’t even aware of each other’s existence, they are all connected through the woman they are told is their mother. By telling the stories of their lives, these children let you in to their own troubles, caused partly by themselves and, in many ways, influenced by their mother’s previous choices. In only a few pages at a time, these characters start to become almost like people in the reader’s life because of Hopkins’ dramatic imagery and skill of connecting the reader to her own fictional character. Though the author’s audience may not (hopefully not) have anything in common with the people she writes about, it is difficult not to develop a sense of sympathy or even sorrow for some of these characters. In this way, Ellen Hopkins pulls you into her stories, which tend to be much less relatable than her characters.

In many of Ellen Hopkins’ stories, a young teenage girl gets mixed up in a life full of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Because of her less than optimal decisions, many hard things happen across the path of this main character. Though Hopkins has her ways of making her novels interesting and often unexpected, these stories all seem to run together. After reading nearly all the novels by this author, it is difficult to distinguish one story from another due to these stunning similarities. Fallout is not much different from Hopkins’ mold. Instead of one child getting pulled into a hectic and crazy life, there are three. Though the drugs and crime do make for an interesting plot for most of the author’s novels, the readers of these books are usually less than prepared to deal with such serious topics. Aimed for a young to mid-teenage demographic, drugs, sex, violence, and alcohol are not necessarily things that should be thought of as entertainment. Although Hopkins does make the point in her stories that these things can cause serious damage and pain to a person’s life, many teenagers would see through those points to the fun and glamour that are portrayed through some of the authors characters. If Hopkins insists on writing stories with such dramatic content, perhaps she should consider writing for a slightly older audience. Though her novels are extremely moving and hold an intention to help teenagers, her intentions may be a bit clearer if the reader understood more about the situations she often describes.

With Fallout, her third addition to the Crank trilogy, Ellen Hopkins tries to make clear how the choices we make as young adults could influence not only us, but our future children and family. These choices could continue to follow us for much longer than they would have seemed to at the time we chose them. With this thought-provoking theme throughout most of her stories, Hopkins tries to make teenagers realize that choices need to be taken seriously, and that many consequences can follow those choices. By introducing her readers to the characters in her books and making them seem like reality, the other aspects of her books begin to seem like reality as well. Though teenagers should be aware that there is evil in this world, Ellen Hopkins takes this thought to an entirely new level. With many of her novels, including Fallout, Hopkins wraps the reader into the extreme ugliness and despair that surrounds her characters. Though these stories are said to be fiction, an intensely realistic edge is put into these novels due to the reality of the characters and the imagery the author uses. Though a younger audience seems inappropriate, I would strongly urge mid to later-aged teenagers to read novels by Ellen Hopkins. Each of these stories, though very similar to each other, carries an unforgettable theme along with it, and helps to strengthen the message that even small decisions, or those that are made at a young age, can have a lasting effect on a person’s life.



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