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Collateral: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins
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Collateral: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Ellen Hopkins

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758160,370 (3.58)None
Member:brandileigh2003
Title:Collateral: A Novel
Authors:Ellen Hopkins
Info:Atria Books (2012), Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
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Collateral: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins

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A review copy of Collateral was kindly provided to me by Atria Books.

'Each returning soldier is an in-the-flesh memoir of war. Their chapters might vary, but similar imagery fills the pages, and the theme of every book is the same - profound change. The big question became, could I live with that kind of change?'

Alternating between the past and present, Collateral tells the story of Ashley and a marine named Cole. How they met. How they fell in love. How Ashley was transformed by Cole's deployment and how she struggled to make it through by using pills and alcohol to quiet her constant fears. Collateral was a deeply moving story that tells the tale of the one left behind in time of war, and how life can be when you love a soldier.

Collateral is a realistic story in every sense because the war depicted within the pages is the exact war we're all living with today. Just as dark, gritty, and emotional as her other works with just enough hint at reality to make you wonder just how fictional it really is. Collateral does showcase the ‘worst-case scenario’ of loving a soldier, but that certainly makes it no less tangible. My heart ached for Ashley, her pain being so evident. I loved the snippets of Cole’s poetry, being able to see his outlook on his life in contrast with Ashley’s. Ellen Hopkins is truly an amazing writer and I'm so thankful for her stories. She uses no different words than any normal person but the way she uses them ends up turning them into something truly profound.

'Alone in this untamed
empty place, I free
a relentless volley
of words. They
rage
against the pages, a torrent
of what was, what is,
what yet may come.
And when at last the spirits
recede,
I find echoed
in their retreat, stories
I dare not give voice to -
nightmares set adrift
in my paper harbor.'
( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 7, 2013 |
Older high schoolers would enjoy this book. ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 29, 2013 |
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I found I did not really enjoy the book even though the story line was ok. I just did not like the jumping back and forth between past and present(my personal preference). ( )
  slvoight | Mar 31, 2013 |


Review Originally Post HERE


I have been a fan of Ellen Hopkins since first reading her free-verse novel Crank. The series about her daughter's drug addiction captured me and still haunts me to this day. I drifted away from Ellen's writing once her novels became mostly about teen issues and jumped back on board as a fan with her first adult novel Triangles. Collateral even though I enjoyed it falls short of her normal gripping heart wrenching tales.

Ellen is a master in tragedy and I always know I can shed a few tears during her novels, so when I learned her latest novel was about a young girl and her love for a soldier I could not wait to grab my box of tissue and leap into this story. Unfortunately I just couldn't fall completely in love with this novel, or get completely lost it in either.

Ashley is a people pleasing college student who falls in love with a soldier she meets in a bar. A majority of the relationship these two lovers are in separate countries from one another, and you kind of don't really get to meet Cole accept for in flashback scenes in the book. With each flashback scene I started to hate Cole more and more. You as the reader witness Cole's demise to anger the life of being a soldier has brought him through the "rewind" scenes. Now all of this works for me I get it but where it went wrong for me was the plot, it was pretty much nonexistent.

It is more like just reading the life of this girl who's entire life revolves around the life of her soldier. I get that this is what the story is about but I kept waiting for something to happen. While something does happen it isn't exactly worth the buildup of a 500 page book. This is why this book gets 3 out of 5 from me because while I enjoyed the story it could have been stronger and not so drawn out.

In the story Ashley has a friend named Darian, I felt like Darian's story was far more powerful than Ashley’s story and had the plot this book was lacking. Only problem; Darian is just a side character with a side story. I am keeping my fingers crossed Darian's story will be her next novel.

Now like I said before I did still enjoy the story and I enjoyed Ashley as a character but I just wanted more something. It took me a pretty long time to finish this book and the only reason I made it to the end is because normally Hopkin's has powerful endings, this novel’s ending followed the same pattern as the rest of the book, it just was. You do get a bump but nothing close to the catastrophic endings I am used to as an Ellen Hopkins reader. Normally I finish her books and walk away tearful hungry for more, this time I was just happy for an ending.
( )
  Dbookwhore | Mar 30, 2013 |
Collateral is the first book I've read by Ellen Hopkins and I approached it with hopeful optimism - mostly because I had heard that it was written in free verse style and, after having immersed myself in poetry this year, I thought it would be fun to try something like this.

At first the story really worked for me. It was the same story told a hundred times over - girl meets boy, boy is charming/cute/wonderful/strong/respectful/perfect, boy is in the military and is taken away from girl, etc... All of this told through free-verse that was simple and easy to read. The story in its most condensed form.

Then things got a little weird for me. You see, the boy in this case is a poet and the love interest takes his poetry to her professor and has her professor read it, and the professor proclaims about the talent of the boy (essentially indicating that he is talented and wasted in the military). All of those things are fine on their own except for one: the complimenting of the poetry.

This is where things really started to rub me the wrong way. If you are an author who writes in free-style poetry a story and then, in a round-about way, compliments your own poetry, it just makes me go "ick" a little bit. Because, honestly, the book would have been just fine had Cole not been a poet - sure there would have been tweaks needed here or there, but writing poetry and then writing in another poem how wonderful your previous poem was... yeah, it just didn't work for me.

And, sadly, that spoiled the rest of the book. It's funny how little things like that can color the way a reader interacts with a story but, as time has proven in my case, one of my biggest pet peeves is the patting of oneself on the pack through fictional characters.

p.s. The rhyming poems really didn't work for me. Please stick to the free-verse, Ms. Hopkins. ( )
  TheLostEntwife | Dec 31, 2012 |
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The 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.

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