Summary: From the publisher: A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?
One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
People Kill People is a hard book to read, and it must have been a difficult book for Ellen Hopkins to write due to its content and style. This book tackles gun violence along with other heavy subjects, like white supremacy, violence, sexual abuse, suicide, and mental illness. People Kill People is told through poetry and second person POV from our six main characters. Our six POVS- Rand, Silas, Daniel, Cami, Noelle, and Ashlyn- are all far from perfect.
My favorite aspect of People Kill People were the second person narratives, with my favorite perspectives being Rand and Noelle. I definitely had the most sympathy for these two characters, although all six perspectives don’t have the best of backgrounds and families. I liked learning about Rand’s family life with Cami and their son. Like the others, Noelle has a tragic past that unfortunately has affected her health and relationship dynamics. Silas and Daniel were definitely different from most YA contemporary characters, and their perspectives were disturbing at times.
I know many readers like Ellen Hopkins’ books for her verse and poetry, but unfortunately, the poetry in the book often pulled me out of the story. The poetry is narrated from this ominous voice that I assume is the voice inside people’s heads telling them to commit bad acts. Unfortunately, the poetry excerpts were often unimportant to the narrative, and I found myself skimming through them. I really only enjoyed the poetry when it directly addressed what was happening to our characters.
As I said before, People Kill People addresses heavy and real life issues. While there is a lot of conversation on guns and gun violence, the book emphasizes the sentiment that guns themselves don’t cause gun violence; people are behind guns after all. I think readers may enjoy that none of our characters are perfect, however, their imperfectness might feel a bit unrealistic. I will say that some of the events near the end left me shocked, and I left the book thinking about how one action can affect multiple lives.
Overall, I enjoyed People Kill People for its POVs and unique story tackling gun violence. This is only the second YA book dealing with gun violence that I’ve read, and it is definitely a heavy, and at times, disturbing read. I think People Kill People is perfect for readers looking for books discussing real world problems and featuring characters on opposing sides of social issues. However, I felt disconnected with People Kill People’s poetry excerpts. There were times when the poetry is important to what is going on in the narrative and explains what happens next, but I disliked the excerpts addressed deeper meanings, pulling me out of the main plot.
This book is based on an advance reader’s copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is People Kill People on your TBR? Have you read any Ellen Hopkins books? Share in the comments!