Saturday, 13 March 2010

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback
Released: May 20th, 2008
Grade rating: A-

Amazon summary:

Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same. Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.


I love Ellen Hopkins. LOVE her. I've never met her, and I doubt I ever will, but her writing speaks to me in a way that not many other books have. Her raw honesty and poetic talent never fails to amaze me, and I become completely enthralled in her stories. I end up blocking everything out until I've finished the whole book, because I just can't bear to put it down, even for five minutes.

Impulse hooked me, shocked me and frustrated me. I wanted to know the characters myself, so I could talk to them, and try to make things better. The more I learnt about them, the more I realised they couldn't all be helped, and that some lives are, thanks to past traumas, ultimately irreparable. The ending left me reeling, and I admit, I didn't like it. I mean, I liked it, but I didn't want it. Not like that.

Although I've never ever experienced anything like Conner, Tony and Vanessa have, I still understood them and all their thought processes. They're very different people, but all have one commonality: the desire to die. For various reasons they all tried, and failed, to commit suicide, which led to their meeting at the Aspen Springs psychiatric hospital. They formed unlikely bonds, some of which will last for life, and found comfort in each other's tragic stories and backgrounds.

To me, Impulse isn't about suicide. It's about love, hope and overcoming a lifetime of unavoidable guilt and self-doubt. The outcome of these character's stories may not be what you want, or need, but it's real. Ellen Hopkins tells the truth, and in doing so she gives teenagers everywhere a voice, along with a reason to ask for help.


Shweta said...

Convinced that I need to read this book! I just loved your review. Looks like a very emotional book but I still want to read it just to experience what you described so vividly..

Keren David said...

It seems such a shame that the title and cover bring to mind a body spray. The book sounds fabulous.

Lauren said...

I'm just starting to get into verse novels, and I definitely need to read this. Your review is absolutely excellent, and pretty powerful itself. This is going on the wishlist.

Becky said...

LOL Keren's comment made me chuckle. I would never had even thought of that.
This sounds like a really interesting book. What an amazing review! I quite want to read this now.

Leah said...

This sounds quite good. Fantastic review!

The Brain Lair (KB) said...

I want to read this but I'm going to wait until I have a "happy" book lined up... Good review.

Sab H. said...

OHHH I need to read this one! I <3 her too! Great review!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

Excellent review, Jen! This sounds really intense and powerful, though I do kind of agree with keren!

I Want To Read That said...

I really need to try this author me thinks:) Thanks for the review:)

Lea said...

I've never read any of Hopkin's books, but your review is making me want to run out and buy them. Fantastic review! :D

Ladybug said...

Really great review, but I'm not sure this book is for me. I must admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable with sad stories. I like to escape from all the bad things that happens to so many in the real world.

Jennifer said...

Beware of Hopkin's books, guys, because I'm pretty sure they're ALL like this: as dramatic and tragic as possible, painful all the way through, with a drenched in tears ending. Basically like going through a terrible, bloody, painful birth, only to have the baby die in the end. I got tired of just reading about them really fast; there is such a thing as too much melodrama. Moreover, there so MANY authors for me that transport me and hook me.

This is not to say that Hopkins isn't awesome; she has amazing talent. But I'm familiar enough with books, and sadness, to know when too much tragedy is too much, when it's almost obnoxious. I was hooked by "Burned", but thank God someone ruined the end for me or I would have been crushed and furious at having my feelings, energy and time exploited.

Now there's a bit of a conundrum: I want her book "Fallen". I mean I WANT it. I wouldn't touch "Crank" or "Glass", seeing both a mile away as exactly the kind of book I described above, and WAAYY too long for such a kind of book. However, I wanted to know Kristina, and "Fallen" looked perfect for that; I could know her, and her children, when their whole mess was finally ending (since it's the last book in the series). But I fear this book might fail me. I can take tragedy, but I couldn't take, for example, Kristina failing for good in this last book to save herself, her children doing the same, or having her children come to hate/desert her.

Prophecy, was I right about her books? Do they ALL end the way I described? If you read "Fallen" or have read it, PLEASE email me and tell me whether the endings I feared come about. Thanks.

Jennifer said...

Heh, never mind I found out that "Fallen" has a great open ending! And Mrs. Hopkins is planning a sequel to "Burned"! Yay!!

Anonymous said...

This book was amazing and love all her books. I did have the pleasure to meet her and she explained to the audience about her books and how mostly all of them were based on real lifes.

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