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Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Thoughts: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question

**Review copy received by the publisher**

I always get a little but nervous when I have an Ellen Hopkins novel on my TBR. I get this way because, her novels, generally, deal with some pretty heavy themes and they don't always end well. That's not to say that they're complete downers. No, that it not at all true. But Hopkins tends to present her readers with disturbingly realistic scenarios. And these scenarios can often make readers take stock of what's going on outside of their little bubble. Take her Crank Trilogy for instance (a series that I can/will never read), a series of books that follows one girl's decline into drug addiction and all the consequences that follow. That is some pretty intense stuff right there.

Rumble is the fifth book (and fourth YA) that I have read by Hopkins and I would say it's the lightest- thematically- of her novels. Maybe? Although it does deal with teen suicide, bullying, sexuality, religion, and PTSD... so maybe not. I just had an easier time reading this one, then I had with the others.

The story follows Matt, as he addresses his inner turmoil, which is beginning to spill into his every day life. His brother- Luke- committed suicide after her was unceremoniously outed as being gay. Luke's death tore the already fragile family a part. Naturally, Matt is feeling a lot of guilt about his brother's death and is not able to handle it in a healthy way- he's alienating his friends and lashing out at school. To top things all off, Matt in finding himself at odds with his girlfriend Hayden. Hayden, a good Christian girl who has devoted her life to Christ. Dating Matt, who cannot believe that there is a God, how could there be, when his brother suffered so badly and ended his life so tragically.

Where the synopsis might have you believing that this story focuses heavily on faith and the existence of God, that it actually not the truth. This is completely Matt's story and how he relates to the people around him after his brother's death. Which included Hayden and her circle of Christian friends (whom bullied Luke, and expressed their discuss at his homosexuality). Hopkins, again, does an incredible job of getting us into the mind of her protagonist. Matt is angry and confused, he's feeling neglected and hurt. There is a lot going on with Matt, and as readers we get to experience everything with him. I don't know how many good things I can say about Hopkins and the way she writes her main characters- they are such authentic representations of youth and the struggles they face.

I want to quickly talk about Hopkins' use of verse when she writes. Some people really struggle with this, and I thought I would as well, but really, it reads exactly like a book not written in verse. I first experienced Ellen Hopkins through and audio book (years ago) and it flowed so easily that I thought I'd give actually reading one of her novels a go, and I was surprised at how easy it was. I guess what I am trying to say is, if her prose freaks you out, don't let it, it's not that scary.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rumble and I love seeing what Hopkins brings to the table again and again. If you have never read any of her books, give Rumble a try, it's way less daunting that anything else I've read by her. A++ Ellen Hopkins.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

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  1. Many thanks for the thoughtful review. Matt is one of my favorite of my characters, so I'm happy he spoke to you.

  2. I've never read any of Hopkins' books but I like intense novels if they're well written and I'm in the right mood for them. If this one was the lightest for you, Sarah, I may start with this one then when I decide to give her books a try.


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