Audiobook Review: Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Tilt by Ellen HopkinsTilt by Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Candace Thaxton, Jacques Roy, Kirby Heyborne, Madeleine Maby, Rebekkah Ross
Length: 8 hrs, 42 mins
Series: Chaos Theory #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 11, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
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three-half-stars

Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting standalone novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the worlds of the teens begin to tilt.

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this wrenching story from Ellen Hopkins.

Earlier this year, I read my first Ellen Hopkins and I liked it enough to want to read more of them. It’s funny, though, how much more daring and dark this later book can be. I feel like this is a sign of publishers broadening the sort of content deemed acceptable for teens. There’s definitely no HEA in Tilt, a far cry from the sudden mostly happy ending of Impulse. Still, I’m finding it hard to place just how I feel about it. I think the increased scope of Tilt, with a much larger cast of characters really upped the melodrama factor. The audiobook was a good way to go, though, because it put different voices to each character.

In Tilt, Ellen Hopkins takes on a LOT: drug usage, alcoholism, divorce, two traumatizing diseases, grief, rape, suicide, and pregnancy. Honestly, I’m probably forgetting a couple of major ones too. That is just SO much to cover in a single book and doing so without getting maudlin is pretty much impossible. On top of that, I think it’s even more difficult to handle each issue fully. That said, Hopkins does a really good job with a number of them, though others are somewhat glossed over.

Much as I am totally not into books about pregnancy, I think that storyline is perhaps the one that Hopkins handled best. Mikayla’s boyfriend talks her into sex without a condom, using the pull-out method instead, which, in a book, means definite pregnancy on the way. Mikayla really considers every avenue open to her, weighing both what will be best for her and for the baby that she could potentially birth. Even though she’s impulsive and has a history of terrible decisions, Mikayla really steps up and grows.

In addition to Mikayla, there are two other main characters and a whole bunch of secondary characters with perspectives. The main characters have long chapters, while the secondary characters sections generally took less than a minute on the audiobook, so probably no more than a couple pages. This piecemeal approach was confusing at the beginning, and sort of a blessing and a curse in the long run. Hearing from other characters is nice, but it’s also a bit difficult to remember the entire cast sometimes and often frustrating when I want to know more about a particular character. Also, like with my previous experience, the characters occasionally used words and phrases that seemed out of character.  I will say, though, that most of the transitions from one perspective to another were really effective.

In my prior Hopkins experience, I had some questions about her treatment of the LGBT subject matter. I’m actually glad I read this book before I posted that review, because I wasn’t confident in my opinion on that. I think this later book makes it apparent that Hopkins is very LGBT-friendly. Actually, I was shocked at the change from the previous book to this one, which is way racier, full of sex both straight and gay. Shane’s plot is also notable for his having a pretty functional relationship with Alex, despite Alex’s HIV. Shane’s issues aren’t due to his being gay, but to his sick younger sister. Also, though it’s sad, I love that Alex can’t magically make things better for Shane, even though Alex is really supportive.

In contrast to the other two, Harley was a big change in tone. She’s idealistic and naive, definitely verging on stupid. Though I kept having to remember that she was thirteen to fourteen in Tilt. A crush on her step-brother to be brings her in touch with a dangerous crowd and into a dangerous spiral. Harley’s story is most upsetting by nature of her youth and how little she understood anything that was happening to her, but it’s also the most frustrating because “GIRL, NO.” It did seem pretty realistic, though, how much she would do to please someone even if she didn’t necessarily want to do it.

Each individual story would have made a great book, I think, but combined it was a bit overwhelming and these interconnected families really need a break. The audiobook narrators turn in good performances and make character-tracking a bit simpler.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

i'm looking for baggage that goes with mine RENT

4 responses to “Audiobook Review: Tilt by Ellen Hopkins”

  1. I have yet to read any Ellen Hopkins. I should probably get on that soon, but I’ve been saying it for years. Same thing for Sarah Dessen. I would definitely have to be in the mood for one though, because it looks as though she tackles a lot of darker subject matters!

  2. Bonnie says:

    Have you read her adult novel Triangles? That was actually my first Hopkins and Tilt is the YA version of the same story. I really loved this one but I agree that there was quite a lot going on. Great review, glad you liked it!
    Bonnie recently posted…Book Review – Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh MafiMy Profile

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