Friday, November 2, 2012

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

CollateralCollateral by Ellen Hopkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads: The gripping story of a woman torn between love for her boyfriend, a dedicated Marine deployed to Afghanistan, and the resentment she has for the war that is tearing their lives apart.

Written in Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.

Collateral captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. Those who remain at home may be far away from the relentless, sand-choked skies of the Middle East and the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, but just the same, all of them will sacrifice a part of themselves for their country and all will eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage caused by war is worth the fight.

My thoughts: It's not fair to compare a writer's own works against her previous ones. Without knowing the author's previous work, I would still give this one 4 stars. It is Hopkins's staple gritty difficult life scenarios and written in verse. Although I read the ARC form so final copy may change, the poetry was not as aesthetically pleasing as previous books.

The story is about Ashley and her ling relationship with a boy turned soldier. Told in alternating time periods that work toward one another, we are given a front row seat of Ashley and Cole's romance for over five years until the time coalesces then passes itself. Every so often Cole writes some prose.

As a rule, I don't like poetry. I am not a fan of having to dig through meaning. Hopkins's style is largely prose that is easy on the eyes, melodic in structure yet spare. She concisely tells the story with as little words as possible which makes it all the more powerful.

The book is an amalgamation of what war does to couples and individuals. Some couples adjust but most fight the separation. They fight. Soldiers change and often become callous. Some come home physically damaged. Many come home emotionally and mentally damaged. Some don't come home at all.

It's masterful the way Hopkins writes. But be aware of very strong language and dialogue, adult themes, details to see how encounters and tough topics. My issue with this book is that I never felt connected to the protagonist thus I had a difficult time empathizing with her throughout. It is still a worthwhile read but definitely not delicate.

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*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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