Book Review: Rumble

Published by: Simon & Schuster
Release date: August 26, 2014
Genre: YA contemporary
560 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

Confession: This is my first time reading Ellen Hopkins. Yes, I know who she is and how strongly many teen readers feel about her work. I've even met her in person at an event last fall. I've almost picked up one of her books several times. I feel very lucky to have gotten the chance to read this one before publication, because I know how popular her books are. And I'm glad to be able to now say that I've read her work.

Rumble is so much more than the blurb below. It's not really about his beliefs about a higher power, or even the "horrific accident". It's really about how hard it is to cope for someone who should be able to count on his family, but can't. Matthew's dad cares about little more than the team he coaches, other than the woman he's been cheating with. Matthew's mom is a raging smoker/alcoholic. Matthew's brother checked out a couple of years ago, because he was being chronically belittled and bullied by nearly everyone but his brother. Even Matthew's girlfriend can't seem to bring herself to stop thinking about her own wants and needs long enough to help Matthew deal with the massive loss of his family as it disintegrates.

Hopkins' writing is exceptionally authentic, yet the novel's structure feels a bit unorthodox. The plot arc is atypical; it meanders a bit, and the build isn't streamlined and direct. I keep vacillating, however, between thinking that it's a flaw of the writing, and thinking that it's responsible for the novel coming across as so honest. Stories in real life don't come in neat little packages that resolve in a predictable time frame; the dramas we live drag out and overlap, sometimes subsiding for long periods of time before developing further.

I can say for sure that, after having finished the book, I continue to consider what happened to Matthew. I continue to think about him, not as a character, but as a real person. I suppose this is the strongest testament I can give the book. And it's why I'll likely pick up another Hopkins book the next time I find myself needing some great realistic YA.


Eighteen-year-old Matthew Turner doesn't believe in much. Not in family—his is a shambles, after his brother’s suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when the going gets rough. Certainly not in some omnipotent master of heaven and earth, no matter what his girlfriend, Hayden, thinks. In fact, he’s sick of arguing with her about faith. Matt is a devout atheist, unafraid of some Judgment Day designed by decidedly human power brokers to keep the masses in check. He works hard, plays hard, and plans on checking out the same way. But a horrific accident—one of his own making—plunges Matt into a dark, silent place where the only thing he can hear is a rumble, and eventually, a voice. And what it says will call everything Matt has ever disbelieved into question.


  1. I haven't read any of Hopkins' novels yet either, and to be honest I'm kind of intimidated by the subject matters she writes about. But this sounds like an amazing book, and I might definitely consider reading.

    Great review!

  2. Hopkins' novels aren't always easy to read. They are gritty and raw, but I find that she gives voice to characters who need to be heard. As much as I would like life to be happy for everyone - it isn't. I think her work is really important.

    1. I absolutely agree, Andrea. All kids need to be able to find characters who tell their own story.


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