Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins Fallout

665 pp.  Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster).  2010  ISBN: 978-1-4169-5009-7 (Hardcover)

(From goodreads.com) “Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He’s struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there’s more of Kristina in her than she’d like to believe. Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother’s notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family’s story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person’s problem.

First of all, I must not have read this prior to reading the novel because I was surprised that this isn’t told from Kristina’s perspective.  But it was a pleasant surprise because I like this twist in the story.  I’m sure that if the series ended with Kristina we’d be wondering about her children.  This gives us the opportunity to see beyond Kristina and how her choices affect those around her. 

Of the three characters, I enjoyed Hunter’s perspective the most.  He honestly felt more dynamic and I want to read more about him still.  Of course, I found myself yelling at him as he continued to screw up his relationship with Nikki.  My husband, from the other room, often heard me shouting “Don’t do it, Hunter.  You know better than that!”  His realizations throughout the story about the man he is and wants to be are touching and honest.  Despite his setbacks I kept cheering him on– literally.

When I read Crank I was so impressed by Ellen’s writing talents.  First of all, to tell an entire story in verse the way she does is a feat in itself.  It’s obvious in her verse in Crank that she poured her heart into the story and her writing.  Fallout isn’t any different.  The verse isn’t set in any particular pattern throughout the book.  Most of the verse is dependent on the character and what he/she is going through.  At times when Hunter, Summer or Autumn feel overwhelmed the verse reflects that; the words are scattered and spread out on the page.  The ability to see what the character is feeling simply by  looking at the format is unlike anything else.  Ellen’s books are true works of art.

Of course my students love all of her books.  This trimester I have freshmen, so many of them have just been introduced to the Crank trilogy.  In my first hour alone, I had two students reading Impulse at the same time.  One is now done and has moved on to Burned, which she just turned back in today.  One of my boys in class read the entire Crank trilogy in a matter of days.  I already planned on buying Fallout, but I had to pick up my copy earlier than expected because my student needed it after finishing Glass.  Another boy in first hour is new to reading and because his friend read this trilogy now he wants to read it.  Even better?!  During conferences, his parents told me they want him to read them.  They want him to be exposed to what really happens in the world through the safety of books. 

 Ellen’s books provide a safe way for teens to “experience” difficult and sometimes scary situations.  If you’re a teacher reading this, and you haven’t already, buy some copies of her books for your classroom library.  We don’t know the history behind all of our students, so we don’t know who may really need one of her books.  They’re an invaluable resource to have in your room.


  1. I would love to read this trilogy! That is, after I get through all my other books, or maybe I will skip over some and put these first.

    • Wow! This review makes me want to read those books even more, especially because they are verse novels and I really want to learn how to write them well. From the previews I’ve read from Crank, Ellen Hopkins is genius!

  2. Thanks so much… very happy the books speak to your students!

  3. I second that Caroline lmao


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