Book Review: Impulse & Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Cannonball Read IV #67 & 68

I have a love-hate relationship with the poetry-ish novels that Ellen Hopkins writes and my thoughts on Impulse and Perfect are no different. Impulse is the story of three teenagers brought to a rehab/mental health facility to recover and near-death: Connor, who shot himself in the chest; Vanessa, who cut her wrists; and Tony, who tries to end his life by pills. Impulse follows these three through their time together as they become friends and learn what it means to develop relationships based on trust and love. Perfect‘s time-frame overlaps slightly with Impulse and is the story of Connor’s twin sister Cara, her boyfriend Sean, their classmate Kendra, and the boyfriend of Kendra’s sister, Andre. Each struggles with what it means to be perfect and the ends to that mean.

I can’t really write too much about either of these without giving away stuff I’d be bummed as a reader to have ruined for me, so let me focus on something else here: how the stories work with the style of writing. I think it usually works pretty well, especially for angsty-teen stuff. We are freed from the continual sappy narrative. It’s also a great way for the story to progress quicker. For instance, both of these books span months, and the passage of time in a normal prose novel could be done very poorly. But the poem structure workers well for that. I think we also get to explore the sides of characters that are a little more difficult to explore in a traditional novel. It’s interesting to see how the kids in these two books unfold and their inner workings. It’s easier to get emotion across in this format.

What I didn’t like about it was that in both novels, but especially in Impulse the chcharacters’ voices just sounded too similar. If I hadn’t had the different fonts and names at the top, I would not have known who was who. It was easier in Perfect but Impulse was pretty difficult. There were also times where the spoken words were just TOO flowery and poem-y, not to mention one like by Vanessa in Impulse that made me want to weep, a line about nothing being able to save her from cutting herself but love.

No. Love of a man does not save you from anything. What a horrible, horrible message to give to teenage girls.

Other than that, I enjoyed reading these two, but felt kind of emotionally spent after them.


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One response to “Book Review: Impulse & Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

  1. Pingback: Krista’s #CBR4 #61-69 « Cannonball Read IV

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