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When I first opened TRAFFICK by Ellen Hopkins, I wasn’t exactly sure that I knew what I was getting myself into. What I thought would be just another read turned into an extraordinary adventure that rendered me unable to put the book down.

TRAFFICK is the sequel to TRICKS, which, in short, is a young adult novel written in poems (much like TRAFFICK) that revolves around a group of five teenagers living gritty and reckless lives as they deal with drug use and sexual activity. Ellen Hopkins seems to be a master at painting a picture of recklessness, which was apparent throughout my time reading TRAFFICK.

TRAFFICK centers around the five characters introduced in TRICKS: Cody, who became a trick in order to pay off his gambling debts and is dealing with the aftermath of a broken family, on top of being shot; Ginger, who is arrested for soliciting a cop; Whitney, a heroin addict who gave up her privileged upbringing to become a trick; Seth, a gay farm boy who has no place to go after being kicked out by his father; and Eden, who grew up in a conservative Christian home and now turns tricks in Las Vegas.

"The book was a definite page-turner; I found myself connecting to all five of the main characters on an intensely human level, as I am sure you will, too."

Throughout the book, the five protagonists, who live all over the United States, are faced with tragedy, hardship and bitter reality that becomes characteristic of the tricking life. In addition to this, they face everyday problems such as acceptance, love, redemption, salvation and family ties. After drowning themselves far too deep in a seemingly inescapable world, they must now face the consequences and the reality of their situations. Not only does the novel serve as a commentary on the wickedness of child trafficking, it also teaches a valuable lesson of perspective. Throughout the book, I found myself rationalizing with the five protagonists as they made dangerous decisions in order to survive. The book was a definite page-turner; I found myself connecting to all five of the main characters on an intensely human level, as I am sure you will, too.

TRAFFICK is definitely not for the faint of heart and it is rife with reality. The book makes it a point to emphasize the struggles of the five characters and unabashedly paints the harsh conditions of the world they live in. While it may come off as obscene or explicit to some, it is effective in that it makes the characters’ struggles all the more real.

I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to reconstruct their entire perspective on others. TRAFFICK will definitely have you questioning the actions of the characters as if they were real people, and it will definitely deconstruct your entire system of ethics and judgment. It taught me to really consider what other people have been through before judging their actions.

Reviewed by Chris Colon on November 3, 2015

by Ellen Hopkins

  • Publication Date: January 24, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1442482885
  • ISBN-13: 9781442482883