Monday, June 10, 2013


Under the influence of the "glass monster", Kristina leaves the straight and narrow and her life rapidly spirals out of control.

I can't think of an uglier, more excruciating story than that of meth addiction. Kristina relapses and falls hard, hitting every branch on the way down. She literally never makes a good decision, and it doesn't take long to get exhausted by her self-justifying thoughts, or her checking up on what level of buzz she has that day. Her thinking is so screwy it becomes logical to assume that whatever she does next, it'll be the most terrible choice she can make.

Without the interesting format of concrete poetry (with some of the verses forming billows of smoke or question marks, and others fragmenting as Kristina loses herself in the fog of meth), I never would have finished reading this painful story, sequel to Crank.

To Hopkins' credit, the story could easily play like an anti-drug PSA: as much as I disliked it for its unrelieved darkness, there is no arguing with Hopkins' abilities with character and language. Everything Kristina does makes a twisted kind of sense, since we are privy to her deepest thoughts. The present-tense, first-person narration moves in a fragmented, telegraphic style, and the action is always clear. Glass can easily be understood without reading the other books in the series. (Fallout, the third and final book, chronicles the lives of Kristina's abandoned children.)

In interviews and the afterward, Hopkins reveals that she based this story loosely on her own daughter's "walk with 'the monster' drug crystal meth." She has plenty of other series tackling difficult issues: suicide, incest, prostitution, and addiction - all the things parents pray they can shield their children from. I can see why the topics are controversial, but Hopkins doesn't go in for shock value for its own sake. In spite of the heavy drug use portrayed, there is no swearing and her depictions of sex are honest but not explicit. She's talking about real life, and sometimes real life is terrible and desperately sad.

For readalikes, check out the rest of Hopkins' series, Patricia McCormick's YA novels, or Neal Shusterman's contemporary YA fantasies.

That said, it's not the kind of story for me. If I want depressing, I'll go read a newspaper.

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