Anyone who reads romance, whether they dabble or have an obsession, has heard of Colleen Hoover. Having published 24 books, most of which are New York Times Best Sellers, her writing has become quite the phenomenon. But is what she writes receiving the appropriate hype?
One of Hoover’s most popular books is the New York Times Bestseller It Ends With Us. This novel focuses on Lily Bloom, who is battling with her emotions after the passing of her abusive father when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. The following months after their first meeting, Lily finds journals from her childhood describing life in an abusive home as well as her encounters with her first love, Atlas Corrigan.
When Lily and Ryle begin a relationship they consistently run into Atlas, and we begin to see that their relationship is not as picture perfect as they believed it to be. Knowing of Lily’s history with Atlas, Ryle becomes jealous and possessive, eventually resorting to violence towards her. Despite Lily realizing how much her relationship is beginning to resemble that of her parents, she loves Ryle and marries him. The abuse only continues and once Lily has her first child she realizes she needs to break the cycle.
It Ends With Us could be argued as a good book with an important message of breaking the cycle of domestic abuse. It is a prevalent story within society and the journals add a dynamic aspect that brings depth into the book. However, while it was definitely interesting and made you feel strongly, those feelings are not necessarily good ones.
“It Ends With Us was well written, but it kind of felt like Colleen Hoover was forcing Lily to be ‘quirky’,” commented junior Audrey Lesko.
To start, when they meet, Ryle talks about how he never wants a relationship and Lily talks about how she wants a family. This is a conflict of interest from the start and promotes the toxic idea that you can get people to change their minds about what they want from a relationship after it has already begun.
The other thing that is a huge negative about the book is the accidental pregnancy trope. The accidental pregnancy trope is overused and rarely adds to the plot of the story. In the case of It Ends With Us, it is only used to convey Lily being trapped in her relationship with Ryle, which is a point that has been thoroughly articulated. While the baby is supposed to show breaking the cycle of abuse with the next generation, this change would have been more impactful if Lily broke the cycle for her own wellbeing.
The final two biggest issues about It Ends With Us is with its marketing. This book is marketed as a romance novel, which leads to numerous problematic concerns. Many people use this as a justification for Ryle’s actions and gloss over the main themes of the book.
The book is really about Lily’s personal fight for autonomy in her relationships and breaking the norms of what she has known since childhood. These important topics are what makes It Ends With Us compelling and by ignoring them, readers not only belittle Lily’s life and reduce her to what she gives to others, but also degrade readers who relate to Lily’s struggles and use her as an example of possibility.
On top of this, Colleen Hoover tried to exploit the fame of it by turning the content and characters of the novel into a coloring book. This received heavy backlash, even from her most adoring fans. It came off as if Hoover was making light of the dark themes of the story and using the lives of abuse victims for a cash grab.
Another underdeveloped and triggering book of Hoover’s is Ugly Love. In Ugly Love, Miles Archer meets Tate Collins and while it is not love at first sight, the attraction grows as they get to know one another. They begin a no-strings-attached friends-with-benefits relationship while the chapters flashback to another relationship from Miles’ past.
This relationship is with Rachel, the daughter of his father’s new girlfriend. Eventually Rachel finds out she is pregnant and when they tell their parents, they find out their parents had been secretly married and they are now step-siblings. Their parents are furious, but they go through with the pregnancy anyway. Rachel gives birth to a son, yet on the way home from the hospital they get into a car crash where the baby dies but Rachel and Miles survive. Greif splits them apart and Miles is deeply affected.
The book had minimal plot, and the plot that was actually there was so all over the place you could not follow it. The flashbacks made the story line very confusing and the constant “will-they-won’t-they” seems forced. Not to mention the fact that the two main love interests are STEP-SIBLINGS. While I understand that they were not siblings at the start of the relationship, it still is weird and makes readers uncomfortable.
Colleen Hoover’s redeeming book is Verity, a thriller romance novel, about aspiring writer Lowen Ashleigh who takes the job of the lifetime completing the rest of a best selling series for the injured Verity Crawford. After accepting the job, Lowen moves into Verity’s house where she and her husband Jeremy Crawford live, to fully immerse herself in the job. While investigating Verity’s notes, Lowen finds a dark manuscript that seems to be a twisted autobiography of her life. Through reading this manuscript, Lowen begins to realize how twisted this family, and Verity herself, truly is.
I truly think Verity is one of the best books Colleen Hoover has written, especially considering thriller type novels are not her usual style. The constant mental gymnastics between whether or not Verity’s manuscript was true or if it was a writing exercise as she claimed helped her get in the mind of an antagonist, kept readers on the edge of their seats. The entire story leaves the reader questioning what is the truth and what is a lie.
“I really enjoyed Verity because it kind of messes with your mind and confuses you and I love that in books,” said junior Kendyl Roelofsen.
Whether or not you enjoyed any of Colleen Hoover’s books, you have to acknowledge that social media gave them too much credit for the wrong aspects and put them on a pedestal, encouraging new readers to expose themselves to toxic relationships wrapped in sugar coating by fans.
“Is she a bad writer? No. But, Colleen Hoover is the most overrated author ever. Her books seemed to go viral on TikTok and it intrigued me, but I just found her romance plots to send the wrong message and it was hard to get sucked into it until about the middle of the book,” commented junior Kenzi Eltaeib.If you enjoy romance novels, there are so many well written books out there, and all you have to do is look for them. Try First and Then by Emma Mills, Beach Read or Book Lovers by Emily Henry or Better Than The Movies by Lynn Painter, it is guaranteed that there is something you would like.