Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Tricks is the story of 5 teenagers who rely on sex or prostitution to provide them with either money or freedom from their extreme home situations. The book was inspired by the fact that the average age for kids to become victims of prosititution today is 12-14 years old. Though these students are all in highschool, the book helps delve into the emotions that both straight and gay, wanted and unwanted, and real and paid for sex can cause.

All in all, the story was pretty good. I started out absolutely loving it. It's told in true Ellen Hopkins' fashion--meaning, in poetry instead of prose. The characters are interesting and different. Some are running away, some are kicked out. For some their issues stem from religion, for others it's due to their sexuality, due to abuse, or just due to a lack of money. No doubt, it's a good story. Plus, the changes in point of view and the way that poetry allows the story to be told are both very moving.

The only problem that really started to hurt the story towards the end is that it's predictable. It's 600 pages of poetry, and after you get through about 300, you pretty much know how things are going to play out. Plus, all of the characters just happen to go to Los Vegas and just happen to work for the same agency or in the same area. It gets a bit too coincidence-y for me. The one last pet peeve, though I do applaud Hopkins for her ability to make all of the dozens of sex scene feel new and real, is that not one of the characters ever makes a logical decision until maybe one of the last 20 poems. I think it would have been more interesting if there was one logical character in the mix that could shed a new light on the interactions with the other kids. It would make it less predictable. For me, when you totally polarize all of your characters so that they always think one way and want one thing, it starts to make things drag.

Either way, still a great read if you're looking for something light (not in topic obviously, but in style). Being written in poetry, it's relatively quick and easy to get through.

<3 Gina Blechman


  1. Sounds like the kind of book the Wall Street Journal would complain about.

  2. So the whole thing is poems that are strung together to tell a story? I think I may want to check this out!

  3. That's right Michael. I believe, but don't quote me on this, that most of all of Ellen Hopkins's YA books are told in solely poetry, but I could be wrong. At the very least, Tricks and Impulse are both told this way. They're pretty good. You should check it out.

    <3 Gina Blechman