Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

61z9ySluaqLFiction — print. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. 666 pgs. Library copy.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act — suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instance each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun — and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other’s help, they can find their way to a better life — but only if they’re strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

I thought Impulse was very, very good, like right up there with Crank, until the very end. But the more I think about the more flaws I can find, and I hate when that happens. I guess, in a way, there were too many characters and with such a “large” cast of characters, not enough time and attention was devoted to each one. Because of this, the ending felt very rush and undeveloped, and while I know there is no rhyme or reason to suicide, I still felt like it just wasn’t quite justified.


Still, I thought the story was very interesting, very riveting, and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. Impulse alternates between three characters’ point of views, but unlike Identical, the three characters are completely distinguishable as you read. The quality of her poetry has also improved compared to her first novel, Crank, and the passion behind the words is extremely evident {something I worried about since she didn’t have first hand experience with the subject matter}.

“I hate this feeling

Like I’m here, but I’m not
Like someone cares,
But they don’t.
Like I belong somewhere
else, anywhere but here,
and escape lies just past
that snowy window,
cool and crisp as the February
air. I consider the streets
beyond, bleak as the bleached
bones of wilderness,
scaffolding of my heart.
Just a stone’s throw away.

But she’s out there,
stalking me, haunting me.
I know she can’t get me
in here. Besides, I’m too
tired to pick myself up
and makes a break fore it.
So I just sit here, brain
throbbing. Tipping.
Tripping on Prozac. (pg. 19)

Every character has a secret that you’re dying to discover and dreading to find out, but as I’m coming to learn, there are no real endings with Hopkins books. And I’d love to have a sequel to this very realistic, very difficult novel.

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