Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

TricksTricks 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.


13 thoughts on “Tricks by Ellen Hopkins”

  1. I saw Hopkins when she came to Orlando last week and she was freakin’ amazing. I haven’t read Tricks yet, but that’s the book I bought for her to sign.

  2. I agree about the characters… I mentioned in my review that I might have liked it better if it just had each character’s full story one at a time. But I guess that might have made it easy to forget about the earlier characters… I don’t know.

    1. Yeah I’m really not sure what would have made it easier to keep track of the characters. Still a good read but definitely not as good as some of her others.

  3. I haven’t read anything by Hopkins yet, and was wondering what age group this book is targeted to. I remember hearing that Hopkins deals with some pretty serious issues, and I am not sure if I would let my daughter read this one or not. I am glad to hear that you liked it though, and that it kept you hooked until the last page. Fantastic review!

    1. I think her books are more appropriate for older teens, because she definitely deals with heavy topics. Stuff like drug use, cutting, sexual abuse, and other stuff.

  4. I love this author. IMHO one of the best YA writers out there who is willing to write the truth. Teens devour her books and some of them see their own lives being played out within the pages..that’s what is incredibly sad to me.

    1. I would agree Staci. She absolutely does write the truth, and while luckily not all teens have to experience the stuff in her books, sadly many do so it is good there are books like hers out there for those teens to read and know they are not alone.

  5. I’ve read a few books just recently in free verse, and I was blown away. It is beautiful in its simplicity. But I don’t think it can work if the story is too complicated. I’ll have to keep the author in mind though, because this is a new crack addiction for me.

    1. LOL you make me laugh by calling it a crack addiction because ironically, Hopkins has a book about teens being addicted to crack! But yes, definitely look into reading her books – they go by super quick, and are so scarily realistic.

  6. This book, Tricks was the number one book i would reccomened. I cried, I laughed. I couldn’t put it down. As of right now I am on my 7th ellen hopkins book and currently waiting for Perfect and Triangles to come out. 🙂 As of now I am reading Burned…

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