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.
I struggled with this book, before ultimately deciding to put it down unfinished. I think the story Hopkins crafted was interesting, engaging, and made me think a lot about my own personal views on a number of issues. But the characters frustrated me, and there were points where Cole and Ashley was so unbearable that I just couldn’t read it any longer.
With this book the male main character was practically asking me to dive into the book and punch him! My dislike for Cole, made me kind of dislike Ashley as well. Though Ashley didn’t need Cole’s help because she’s not a great character either. I know for a fact I am not the only person who will dislike Cole. I’m pretty sure the main point of the story is to dislike Cole. I disliked him because we have totally different views of the world which made it hard for me to really like him and enjoy his character, though there was points when he wasn’t so bad. I wanted to root for Cole and Ashley in the beginning, but then Cole became a completely different person and Ashley saw the change and made excuses for it, or even ignored it, which is unbelievably frustrating. Though that’s just one problem with Ashley , she’s also judgmental, selfish, and Immature.
Ashley is difficult but I still found her an interesting protagonist, but sweet lord almighty this girl is frustrating. Both Ashley and Cole are flawed, there are parts in the book where you like them and root for them both together and apart, but then there are parts when you just can’t root for them or like them. Hopkins never portrayed any of the characters as perfect beings, she showed their flaws and their struggles and honestly it was my favorite part of the book.
I started this book not expecting how it would turn out, I thought it was going to be a girl who falls in love with someone else while her boyfriend was at war; and its kinda like that be it is also so much more! I am not a big fan of war, I personally want every soldier to come home and be with their families, and the way the soldiers are illustrated in this story makes you think, and wonder about the things that are happening at war. While this book doesn’t make the soldiers out to be monsters, it shows some of the things people do once they have seen things that they just want to forget.
Though, I didn’t finish it I still think the book was a really interesting, engaging read and recommend it, though it might frustrate you immensely.