Book Review: Traffick


Synopsis from Amazon:

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestsellingTricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

*I received this book as a digital ARC from Simon and Schuster. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on November 3, 2015.*

I first fell in love with Ellen Hopkins’ writing style in high school when I read Crank. Since then I’ve read every single one of her books (including the adult novels) except one. I’m still waiting to get my hands on Smoke.

The point is I’m a huge fan and Traffick did not disappoint. If you haven’t read Tricks yet be warned there will be spoilers from that book here. I’ll try to keep it minimal but it’ll be hard not to mention a few key points.

If you’re like me it may have been a while since you read Tricks and therefore I urge you to  reread it, or at least look up a summary because when I first started reading Traffick I thought everything would just come back to me but I was very mistaken. I had to read up on Tricks to remember all the crazy that went on before I could dive into the sequel.

Traffick begins pretty close to where Tricks left off. We start with Cody who wakes up from a coma after being shot and then move through all my favorite characters from the first novel.

Seth is still struggling on his own, not being able to return home since he came out to his father. Ginger, Whitney, and Eden are all recovering from their life of turning tricks and trying to figure what will be next for them although they all handle this in very different ways.

I found this novel very interesting because it shows what happens after being trafficked. Seth is the only main character in this novel who’s still turning tricks. Everyone else is dealing with the repercussions and effects of what happened to them.

What Hopkins does very well is show the variety of ways in which a child could end up in this life and unfortunately often do today. There was no stereotype of all these kids coming from a bad home or a poor neighborhood. Of course that was the case for some but not for all. Each of these characters were different with different stories and experiences and I think Hopkins demonstrated that well.

This book took me through a roller coaster of emotions. When one of the characters succeeded I cheered with them. When one failed I cried along with them. I thankfully can’t say I know what living a life like this is like but I can only imagine how difficult it would be to get out. Hopkins doesn’t sugar coat her characters’ struggles but she also showed their triumphs.

My one issue with the book was the typical description of a person of color in reference to food, i.e. using words like “chocolate” and “espresso”to describe skin color and eyes instead of just saying dark skin and brown eyes. But because this book was excellent overall I’ll give Hopkins a pass although really you don’t have to describe us like food. Just say our skin tone color. It’s fine, really.

Moving on, this was an excellent novel and I urge you all to pick it up. If nothing else it made me want to learn more about sex trafficking, and specifically, child trafficking and what I can do to stop it. Hopkins brought light to a real issue and although I know sometimes people look down on YA fiction, Traffick just goes to show that any book, no matter the genre, can have a real message and an even more real impact.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! And while you’re at buy Tricks too.