Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Five teenagers, all with very different backgrounds, from different parts of the country, all searching for something in the exciting and dangerous town of Las Vegas. What they find, unfortunately, is nothing like what any of them were hoping for. These five stories start out as separate, but come together perfectly in the end.
I’ve come to expect insanely good novels from Ellen Hopkins. Her style is extremely distinct: she writes her novels in verse, and her writing is absolutely beautiful. She is able to evoke such strong emotions with her words, sometimes I am just blown away by what she manages to do with her books.
Tricks was everything I would have expected from Ms. Hopkins in terms of the writing and the beautiful poetry her words create on the page, but I have to admit that I didn’t love everything about this book. For one thing, I had a lot of difficulty keeping the characters straight in the beginning. Since this is a novel in verse, the reader doesn’t get a ton of opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of each character (more pages but fewer words than a traditional novel) and because of that, I found myself consistently flipping back to previous chapters to remember who each character was and what their individual situations were. In addition, I felt that the novel took a very long time to get to the “meat” of the story. It’s difficult for me to explain without giving crucial plot points away, but basically these five teens have one major thing in common and that particular thing wasn’t revealed until very late into the book. If I wasn’t so captivated by the writing, I probably wouldn’t have finished the book as I found myself getting impatient to find out the central issue of the story.
But I have to keep coming back to the writing and Hopkins’ amazing poetry. I never “got” novels in verse until I started reading her books, and I have to say that I am hooked. I love her writing so much and Tricks is just one more example of how she was able to create this amazing, beautiful, and haunting story using poetry. So while this wasn’t my favorite of her novels, I would still recommend reading it for the writing alone. Plus, once you read one of her novels I challenge you not to pick up another one! They are truly addicting.