Ellen Hopkins is known for her honest, gripping, and raw novels that combine different writing styles, characters, and harrowing experiences that are sure to shock you and will make you think. I fell in love with her writing back when I read The You I’ve Never Known, and have continued to devour her books with a passion.
In the case of People Kill People, Ellen Hopkins returns with her signature writing style, combining both poetry and narrative writing to create a unique reading experience.
We are formidable.
chewing into the sand.
Oh, but weapon in hand
we are inexorable.
A tsunami battering
People Kill People is a novel that follows several characters, all with their relationships intertwined in some way or another. The characters live their different lives, all connected by certain people, whether they be family, friends, or simply someone angry about a girl ditching him for someone else. The way their stories weave in such a tangled way makes the story not only interesting, but absolutely gripping.
This is the kind of book that I don’t want to go too in-depth with, because it’s a character driven novel and you really have to get to know them. In People Kill People, each “chapter” is divided up into parts where you are essentially “slipping into the skin” of the particular character, with the tone of voice that implies that you are the character – it gives you a chance to really get to know them, to feel their emotions, their anger, their problems. I think that this makes the characters in People Kill People more relatable and easily understood, and it gives the reader the chance to really connect with them.
The story starts off with a man who purchases a gun for self defense in his home. When he accidentally shoots the gun and causes a tragedy, he sells it, and it gets into the hands of someone it shouldn’t.
Is all it takes.
When that person purchases the gun, it turns into a whirlwind of anger, problems that arise with the characters, a protest with people on both sides, and the question of who is going to get hurt in the end.
This book is timely and important, and it discusses gun violence in a raw and gripping way that will really get your attention, and hold onto it.
The characters’ stories are all written in such a way that you have the chance to really get to know them. We learn all about each one and how the others fit into their lives, whether for good or, well, not so good. I think one of the strongest points about this book (aside from the message on gun violence and how it can affect anyone), is the fact that the author wrote all of these intertwining, in-depth stories for each of the characters, giving them all unique and individual voices, character traits, and personalities. This makes the novel seem more human, and the characters each full of faults, weaknesses, and their own stories to tell – things that make them seem more human, instead of cookie cutter.
This is the kind of book that should be lining the shelves of high school classrooms, the kind of story we need right now. It’s important, it’s timely, and it is written in such a way that allows the reader to see the effects that can be caused by guns. It’s a genius story with an ending readers will never see coming.