Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

Genres: Young Adult, Poetry, Contemporary, LGBT+
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: November 3rd 2015

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“There are more imperfect diamonds than flawless stones.”

In the follow up to Tricks, Hopkins continues the stories of five trafficked teens to see where their stories end up. Cody; a  gambler who was forced into the life to pay his debts and was shot. Ginger; who’s mother helped her into the life and had to run away. Seth; a gay teen kicked out of his home forced to exchange his body for shelter. Whitney; pimped out and addicted to heroin. And Eden; a preacher’s daughter who uses sex to escape a horrible religious reform school. Hopkins gives fans the conclusion they’ve been waiting for for six years.

Hopkins books are almost always written in free-verse, and normally that makes them quite a bit more interesting. Unfortunately this book felt a little bland. The verse felt more forced, like regular sentences were just being chopped up and not as though verse was the intended style. It felt more like a hindrance to the story than anything which is extremely weird for a Hopkins novel.

The book doesn’t properly go over it’s past, which, being six years since the previous novel, might have been wise. I had some difficulty remembering the characters’ stories and relationships. I don’t expect books to hold their readers’ hands, but when the gap is significant a little brushing up never hurts.

The characters themselves have pretty similar voices. I’m glad the chapters were labelled with names otherwise it might have taken a while for me to remember who the story was focusing on. The worst bit is when three of the girls are in homes so the plot lines are somewhat similar and I struggled to remember who was at which home with which other girls. Their lack of voice really hurt that section of the novel.

Without spoiling too much the ending was cheesy. Tricks was brilliant because readers were left with no real conclusion. Life in child trafficking is dirty, uncertain and dangerous. Traffick throws out all that work and settles everyone into mostly happily ever afters. Hope is important, but the book would improve if at least a character didn’t make it. It lacks the grittiness it could have had and feels less real because of it.

The book was fine, but far less than I’ve come to expect from Hopkins. Tricks didn’t need a sequel, but if it was going to have one it shouldn’t have been so disappointing.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: Crank

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