‘People Kill People’ – Ellen Hopkins

Whatever your views on gun ownership, the refrain ‘guns don’t kill people. People kill people’ won’t have passed you by. Of course, logically, we know that people are the ones who carry out the act, but it’s hard to dispute the idea that guns make it easier for someone to do something they might think twice about otherwise.

This contemporary read allows us insight into the lives of a lot of characters, each of whom has reason to be angry/to want to hurt people/to feel like they need the protection of a gun. We have a family grieving after a shooting; a young family finding their feet; White Supremacist supporters; a young man determined to take revenge on his old Scout Master and a young boy who’s made homeless after the death of his father, amongst others. These characters are connected, and all have things to fear/things they want to change.

Told partly in verse form, this will not appeal to everyone. There’s a deliberate attempt to personify the gun and lend it an element of seduction. With violence as the narrator, this book attempts to challenge the belief many Americans have that they should have the right to bear arms.

As someone who doesn’t share this belief, and who is appalled by the steady stream of horror we see after yet another shooting, I felt the way this was presented will certainly get people thinking. Ultimately, though, little changed and I don’t feel the key incident towards the end of the book will be enough to drastically change many views. Towards the end things felt rushed, and I felt certain stories were left too vague for my liking.

A simple message, but not one that really feels like it’s given with total conviction here.

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