Ellen Hopkin’s newest novel in verse, Rumble, tackles many important topics without ever being pedantic or preachy or implicating one person as the villain and one as the hero. The protagonist, Matthew Turner, is having a terrible senior year as his family is in shambles after his younger brother’s suicide. Matt doesn’t believe in anything, especially not God, no matter how devout his girlfriend Hayden is.
Suicide is no new issue for Hopkins or her readers, neither are issues of faith, and while the issue of faith is prevalent in the book, it wasn’t until the last part (and I mean like the last 50 or so pages, maybe even less) that the accident teased in the publisher summary appears. The book ends soon after that and the “rumble” was a bit anticlimactic for my liking as was the “after.” I wanted more insights into Matt’s thought process after the horrific accident (Hopkins is so great at creating terrible accidents right at the end), but the book didn’t provide it.
None of that is to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. I really, really, really liked it. I didn’t love it as much as I love some of her others like Burned and Crank, but I will be purchasing a personal copy and letting my co-worker who makes our order lists to add this one in the fall. I read most of it in only a few hours when I couldn’t sleep and finished it on my lunch break because I couldn’t stand not knowing how it ended. The discussions on faith and how it could be so many different things to so many different people were thought provoking as was the opposite of that of how faith can be used to hurt.
There is also the immense guilt and anger Matt feels about his brother’s suicide and the role he, his friends, his family, and their community played in it. There are no easy answers in this book and no easy villains or heroes. The inclusion of Matt’s uncle added another layer in a book that already felt miles deep. His uncle runs a shooting range and often has retired military come for target practice. This new setting provides a commentary on PTSD, the effects combat can have on individuals. The end effect of that is not at all positive and extreme, but Matt’s uncle was pretty much the only adult who seemed to be thinking about Matt and his well being.
There are plenty of things in the book that will offend people, and it wouldn’t be an Ellen Hopkins book without that. Matt has his own gun and enjoys shooting at his uncle’s range. An atheist gun enthusiast? Not something you see everyday, which is one of the many reasons I like this book. It challenges readers to examine what they believe and encourages them to question those beliefs, whatever they may be.
Ultimately, this is an excellent book that will make a fine addition to any library, especially where Ellen Hopkins is popular. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed with her newest book.
I received an advance digital copy from Edelweiss in exchange for a honest review.