Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Crank Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
First in controversial verse poetry series about addiction.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 23 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Describes the strong hold of addiction, and some facts about meth, including how it "eats big holes in the brain, destroys/ the pleasure center..." Could open up some good discussions about drug use and addiction.

Positive Messages

Though it is unclear at the conclusion if Kristina will be able to actually master her habit, her story is a cautionary one.  Readers who know about the book's sequel, Glass, will correctly assume her addiction continues.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kristina makes some dangerous choices here -- including using drugs while she is pregnant -- but she is an honest narrator who will provide insight to readers about the temptation to do drugs -- and also what can happen once you start. She does have family members and friends who care about her.


There is a rape and another character discusses being forced into sex. While in juvenile hall, Kristina meets other inmates who are there for committing violent crimes. Also, while on drugs, Kristina cuts herself with a razor, drinks her blood, and offers it to others.


Lots of kissing, including same-sex kissing for attention, references to oral sex, and Kristina and her boyfriend have sex several times. At the end of the book, Kristina discovers she is pregnant and goes to a Planned Parenthood to learn about her options.


Some, including "f--k." Also, slang words for gay women and oral sex.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

This is a book about a girl addicted to crank, and Kristina snorts it, smokes it, and even injects it. She buys and sells -- including from a drug gang. And she smokes cigarettes, does ecstasy, smokes marijuana, and drinks coffee. Kristina does crank with her biological father.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a free verse poetry book about a teen girl's addiction to methamphetamine (also known as crank). Kristina snorts it, smokes it, and even injects it. She also buys and sells -- including from a drug gang. And she smokes cigarettes, does ecstasy, smokes marijuana, and drinks coffee. This book includes other mature material, including a rape, an unplanned pregnancy, and a scene in which a high Kristina cuts her skin and drinks her own blood. Mature readers will recognize that this is a cautionary tale describing the strong hold of addiction, and parents could use it to open up some good discussions about drug use and addiction.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byxraymommy2 September 4, 2011

kids not ready for this read

I have really enjoyed reading this book but I would not recommend this for my teenage children to read. The reason behind my hesitation is because the way the... Continue reading
Adult Written byGoodreadingdad June 2, 2016

Keep your kids away from this book

I love reading and all my kids do, but I found that my 11 girl had borrowed Glass, the second book from a friend, and perhaps we did not notice the first one, b... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySiennavorwark October 11, 2016
Teen, 14 years old Written bywrry February 17, 2012


Crank opened my eyes to the horror of drugs in the teenage world im a teenager myself and this series kinda scared me a little bit i think its a good book for 1... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Kristina goes to visit her biological father, she creates a new identity for herself, calling herself Bree and trying things like crank -- which she smokes for the first time with her father and a new boyfriend. Once back home, she can't break free of Bree, or the drug she calls \"the monster.\" Her comfortable suburban life begins to disappear as she gets deeper into crank: She begins to do badly at a school, steals money from her mom, and even ends up at juvenile hall. When she discovers she is pregnant, she tries to get her life back on track. But can she really say goodbye to the monster?

Is it any good?

It's no wonder that this book has been such a hit with teen readers: The free verse makes for a fast read, and the details are full of drama. As Kristina gets deeper into drugs, she even injects crank -- and later discovers she is pregnant. But while this is a cautionary tale, this book will leave more of an imprint than an after-school special about drug abuse. Partly, this is because of the open ending in which Kristina has still not decided if she can live drug free, even with all that she now has to live for -- including a baby of her own. Parents who are concerned about the mature material might consider reading along with their teens so they can be better prepared for questions and discussions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this book's subject matter. Did you learn anything that surprised you about crank or drug abuse? Do you think this book will discourage kids from doing drugs?

  • Crank was number four on the American Library Associations list of most challenged books of 2010. What makes it so controversial? Who should have a right to decide what you read -- or what's in your library or school?


Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love discussing books

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate