Author: Ellen Hopkins
Rating: ★★ 1/2
Synopsis: In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.
And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.
Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for this ARC!
Perhaps Traffick wasn’t the best book to start with in terms of my introduction to Ellen Hopkins’ work. Not only is it a sequel to Tricks, a book I have not read, but it’s also an introduction to a style I’m not used to reading. While I have nothing against novels written in verse (I’ve read a few I’ve enjoyed), something about this particular book did not work for me.
First off, I am a lover of tough subjects, and parts of this book really did speak to me. However, the book also focuses on five different perspectives, each with their own “struggle.” What was hard for me was the fact that I didn’t know much about these characters to begin with, so it made it very hard for me to connect with them, almost feeling as though I was supposed to observe and not participate in the story. Second, I felt as though each of the perspectives all felt too similar in tone. While each character had their own problem and that was the defining feature, they didn’t feel like characters to me — more like vessels speaking the truths that Hopkins wanted to share. While I loved and appreciated the overall messages within the story, these were not characters, and I couldn’t get a sense of who they were at all in the story.
It also seemed as though there was no overarching narrative, just bits and pieces, which I think for some readers would work, but for me it didn’t. Perhaps it’s because I hadn’t read the first book, I’m not sure. She also crams so many “tough issues” into this book, to the point where I found it overwhelming, and I think because their were five narratives to follow, that made it even harder to care at times. I think if it had been maybe two less perspectives I could have felt more forgiving in my judgment, but she just bashes the reader over the head with all these issues, to the point where it’s more about the shock value of what can be shared.
That’s not to say this is a bad book, because it isn’t. There are passages in the book that really rang true in a lot of ways, and I found them to be quite profound to read. I just feel like there was too much happening in this novel for me to feel the connection I wanted from the overall story. I am not a huge fan of Hopkins’ writing style, as I found it to be a bit too overbearing at times. If anyone has a suggestion of a better place to start with her works I’d love to hear it, but as it stands, I wasn’t as enthralled with this as I wanted to be.