Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse, like all of Ellen Hopkins’ books, is a story in verse.  This story focuses on three teenagers who have all been hospitalized for suicide attempts.  Each one has secrets to hide and they form a bond as they deal with some extremely difficult issues.  Serendipitously, I discovered that Hopkins’ latest YA book, Perfect, is a sequel to this one.  I’m anxious to get it and see what happens next for the teens.


I have a hard time analyzing Hopkins’ writing.  On the one hand, she’s doing something that not many other authors or poets are doing – YA or otherwise.  Stories in verse are unique and she does them well.  On the other hand, it’s not great poetry.  It’s gimmicky and cliche at times and not something I think you’d hear a lot of literary praise for.  But I don’t think Hopkins is going for critical praise as much as she is going for an appeal to the audience, which is a young adult.  So I have to applaud her for taking poetry to a group that doesn’t get much exposure to poetry and for doing it in an appealing way.  So, while she’s not going to be winning any literary awards, I think her writing is extremely successful for her purpose and intent.

Entertainment Value

Definitely entertaining, if not always believable.  If you are a teen in a book by Ellen Hopkins, you are facing some serious obstacles.  It’s almost like being an animal in literary fiction – you aren’t just going to suffer, you are going to suffer in every imaginable way.  That’s not necessarily a criticism either – Hopkins’ whole “thing” is appealing to teens who are struggling and creating characters they can identify with.  And these characters go through the teen experience to an intense degree: rape, homosexuality, religion, sex with teachers, molestation, sibling rivalry, etc, etc, etc.  And that’s just in this one book.  Very soap opera, but on a teen level.  Lots of drama, but with heart, if that makes sense.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading Perfect. I enjoy Verse Novels, they are my simple pleasure. I have only read Crank by her. Lisa Schroeder is my favorite Verse novel author if you are interested in trying another.

Combine a splash of suicide, a tablespoon of mental diseases, and a cup of poetry and you get the wonderful, dark novel, Impulse. This book is geared towards young adults though can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults as well. Between the hints of drug use, the attempted suicide, and stories of sexual intercourse this book is unfit for younger readers. Taking the wonder of poetry and intertwining it with the passion of a novel you’ll get Ellen Hopkins’s style of writing. Bringing in the passion of a teenager with the knowledge of an adult you’ll find that she can combine skills and storylines to find a true passion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *