Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Ellen Hopkins

I really liked your first books. Honestly, my least favorites were Crank and Glass, the ones that made you famous. But Identical? Burned? They were absolute pieces of art. Heck, I even quoted you when I was talking about sexual abuse and assault. The characters are believable, deep, flawed, just plain old awesome. The plotlines are disturbing, but when you’re talking about abuse, that’s exactly what they should be.

But having read your most recent books, I’m noticing some trends in your writing and plotlines that really bother me.

1.       None of your characters seem to have heard of abortion. A lot of them don’t really care much for birth control in any of its forms, either. I get that in Crank you’re writing about real life events, so the main character, Kristina, can’t have an abortion. However, Burned does not reflect actual events, but the main character Pattyn doesn’t even think of getting an abortion when she finds out she’s pregnant. It’s the same with Summer in Fallout. Why? What kind of message is this sending to your readers, both male and female? Feminists fought long and hard to get women the right to terminate a pregnancy, and are still doing everything in their power to ensure we have that ability. Why can’t any of your characters want to take advantage of that?
2.       Perfect had so much wrong with it, I barely know where to begin. Sean, one of the characters, takes steroids to improve his game, rapes his girlfriend Cara, smears her online, and then exposes the fact that she’s gay by posting sexual pictures of her with her girlfriend. His reward for this reprehensible behavior? He gets into Stanford on an athletic scholarship.
3.       Let’s not forget another Perfect character, Kendra, the anorexic pageant queen turned model. Does she ever go into treatment for her eating disorder? No. Do her parents even address the issue? No. Does her story ever get so much as a definitive ending? No. A little “if she keeps on like this she’ll be dead in a year” is spared a few pages before the end, but there’s no official understanding of this made. Like Sean, she’s rewarded for her negative behavior, since she gets a big modeling job. Another great lesson to send readers.
4.       The way rape is handled in Perfect is also just not acceptable. After Sean rapes Cara, he insists it isn’t rape because she didn’t say no until the last second. He’s never really harshly disabused of this idea. When Cara gets the police on him for stalking her, she doesn’t mention anything about rape, so he goes completely unpunished. NOT ACCEPTABLE! When Kendra’s sister, Jenna, is brutally raped and left for dead, she gets plenty of pity. However, there’s no expressed anger towards her attacker or any desire to even attempt to find him. I felt like the whole rape was an afterthought to the plot, something added in just to spice things up. That is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

So there are a few opinions. I haven’t read a lot of your books in a while, so I’d probably have other insights into them if I had. For now, these are all my complaints. Please do something to fix them in the future. Your writing is just too amazing to allow for anything less than perfection.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts. Pattyn would NEVER consider an abortion because of her religious upbringing. We haven't even gotten to what Summer decides to do when FALLOUT ends. I am a staunch supporter of a woman's right to choose, and have been since I was a teen. Abortion, however, is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There are psychological ramifications for some, and sometimes they don't show up right away. As for PERFECT, I write life as I see it, and too often rapists quite simply walk. The point is to encourage young women not to let that happen, and by disgusting some with the fact that it does, hopefully they'll take action if it ever happens to them. Every scene in my books is there for a reason. Thanks again for your thoughts, however.