This is probably one of the most confronting books I’ve ever read. I’ve heard people talk about “edgy” contemporary YA before, but didn’t really understand what it meant until now. Tricks deals with teen prostitution, and the stories of five teenagers, and the decisions they made before they got to that stage. I’m giving it three stars. First I want to talk about the good things:
1) It’s brave. Like a YA version of Jodi Picoult’s books, it delves into issues without being preachy.
2) It doesn’t condescend to the YA audience, something I really loved.
3) It’s a verse novel, one of the first that I really enjoyed and, I felt, used the form well.
But I do have complaints, otherwise I wouldn’t be giving it three stars. First of all, there were five points of view in the book: Eden, Cody, Seth, Ginger and Whitney. It took me more than half the book to be able to differentiate easily between them – some of the stories seemed to blend into each other and I got confused on numerous occasions.
Also, some of the stories seemed far-fetched. (and warning: spoilers)
Eden’s parents believe she’s possessed by Satan, and when this was revealed, I just didn’t see the realism in it at all. Not to mention the fact that at the beginning, Eden just seemed like a cardboard cut-out teenager, unable to live without her boyfriend and just completely clichéd.
Cody, whose family is running out of money, turns from online gambling to prostitution in what seemed like minutes to me, with almost no explanation as to why. Not to mention all the things his brother Corey (why such a similar name, I wonder?) does, which are hardly addressed at all.
Whitney runs away from a boyfriend that had the most pathetic excuse in the world for dumping her. Her story was one of the saddest, but I don’t buy her reasoning for getting into it in the first place. Who knows? That might just make me naïve, but I didn’t feel her desperation.
The stories I most believed were from Seth (who is kicked out for being gay) and Ginger (who was unknowingly prostituted by her mother from a young age). I felt like there could have been fewer stories, and each one could have gone deeper. Actually, I would have loved it if the stories were from Alex, Ginger, Cody and Corey’s points of view – I think there could have been a lot of depth to those stories.
So I might not read Tricks again. But I would still recommend it, and I will still remember it for a long time, because what happens in this book happens every day. The next Ellen Hopkins book on my TBR pile is Perfect, and even though Tricks wasn’t my favourite, I’m willing to read more of her books – I hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.