Review: Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

FalloutPublished: September 14, 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 665
Format: Kindle Edition

This review is for the third book in the series Crank.  There are spoilers for the first two books, Crank and Glass, in the blurb below and in the review itself.  My review for the second book is here and my review for the first book is here.

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer – three of Kristina Snow’s five children – live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

As each teen searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together – Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

This book is really different from the first two books in the series, which really threw me off. While Crank and Glass tell Kristina’s story from her perspective, Fallout is different in that it doesn’t really continue Kristina’s story, but that of three of her children.

I was initially somewhat annoyed by this change. I wanted to know more of Kristina’s story, to see if she would ever break free of the cycle, and Fallout answers that question in a way much different way than I was expecting.

The narrators in this story are Hunter (born at the end of Crank), Autumn (whom the reader learns about at the end of Glass), and Summer, a completely new character to previous readers of the series. Hunter lives with Kristina’s mother and stepfather, Autumn lives with Trey’s father and sister, and Summer lives in a foster home. Between sections of the story, the book also includes newspaper clippings which reveal what happened to characters from the previous books over the past twenty years.

Each of Kristina’s children has his or her own story, and the book tells them in alternating sections. Hunter’s story revolves around his job as a radio personality and his life with his girlfriend Nikki. Autumn yearns for a relationship with a family she knows she has but has never contacted. Summer has come and gone from various foster homes.

One thing that really confused me about this book is that I felt the vibe from the foster homes was overwhelmingly negative, verging on abusive, with few positive aspects. I found myself wondering if Hopkins’ other books are the same way, or if that was just this particular book. Some of Hunter’s comments about Kristina’s rape also made me really uncomfortable. I also found it a bit difficult at times to differentiate between Autumn and Summer’s stories because I found their voices to be very similar.

Hopkins’ goal with Fallout, apparent from the title, seemed to be showing the effect drug use could have on the user’s family, not just on the individual, and I can see why she would have changed POVs in this way if that were the case. While the reader was able to see that kind of thing in the first two books, it was difficult to see the extent of it through Kristina’s eyes alone, and through the eyes of three of her children, the reader gets to see the “fallout” of Kristina’s actions through a much wider scope. That said, it took me a while to come to terms with the large changes to the POV.

Overall, I felt like there were several things that weren’t quite tied up to my satisfaction, but on the other hand, I guess that isn’t really what the book was about, so I can live with it. I enjoyed reading this series in general, and would be interested in reading more of Hopkins’ books in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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