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I Read Two of Colleen Hoover’s Most Popular Books: A Book-Tok Mini-Series

Content Warning: Abusive Relationships, Sexual Assault, Child Loss

If you aren’t familiar with BookTok by now, it’s a book or book series recommended to you through the TikTok app. Occasionally these recommendations can be so great that they can make the reader divulge into a world of faeries, vampires, enemies to lovers, classics and “right in front of you” mystery novels. So, like any other reader, I noticed a specific author gaining traction and hype with their books, so much so that even Kylie Jenner posted a picture of one of the author’s novels on her Instagram story. This incredibly hyped-up author’s name is Colleen Hoover, who mainly writes romances, and I chose two of her books to read. 

Spoilers ahead. Reader discretion is advised.

It Ends With Us

It Ends With Us is arguably one of Hoover’s most popular books and the one I saw circulating the most. When I first picked it up, I didn’t know what to expect; it centers around Lily, our main protagonist, and Ryle, our love interest. Throughout the first half of the novel, we see Ryle and Lily’s fast-growing relationship; they quickly fall for each other, move in, get married and Lily finds out she’s pregnant. Between all of this, there are a couple of instances where Ryle lashes out at Lily and hurts her, which scares Lily since her father was quite physically and emotionally abusive towards her mother. It isn’t until the third instance, where Ryle is drunk and goes through Lily’s items to find diary entries of her childhood lover, Atlas, that forces Lily to leave him. Now, my problem with this novel doesn’t stem until the last half, with Ryle facing absolutely no repercussions for his actions. Lily divorces him, but he still has a relationship with their newborn daughter, keeps his job as a doctor and, as far as we’re aware, his family (that was close with Lily) don’t say anything about his actions. I believe Ryle shouldve faced more consequences, as his last instance almost ended in the sexual assault with Lily; this was, in my opinion, the most frustrating thing about the novel; it felt as if he got off scot-free.

The diary entries that Ryle found are entries that the reader sees throughout the story. I adored reading about young Lily and Atlas. They were complex, sweet and overall their story was far more interesting to see than Lily and Ryle’s. While I do understand that Hoover wanted to write about an authentic abusive relationship, I also state that if she was going to bring Atlas back, they shouldn’t have ended up together as they did in the end. While the chemistry between them was intense as teenagers, their adult chemistry didn’t feel quite right, instead, it felt forced and as if Atlas was just being used as a tool for Ryle’s anger. (Hoover has stated that there will be a new novel with Lily and Atlas coming out October 18 titled It Starts With Us).

The technicality in the writing felt premature and lazy at times, jumping almost every chapter. I’m not a huge fan of telling character development with “6 months later” or “3 months later” while not technically showing us. I heard great things about Hoover’s writing when in reality it was mediocre at best. I believe this story had potential, but overall it was a bit disappointing to me. 

2.5 out of 5 stars 

Ugly Love

Oh boy, where do I start with this one? There is nothing likable about this novel; it’s highly problematic, and unlike It Ends With Us, there are no redeemable qualities. This story revolves around our two main protagonists, Tate, a student and nurse, and Miles, a pilot. Tate moves in with her brother, Corbin, and Miles lives in the apartment in front of them and happens to be Corbin’s good friend. When we meet Miles, he is drunk and sleeping on their front door, so he’s not off to a great first impression. The two get themselves into a bit of a “situationship,” and Miles sets a couple of rules, which are 1. Never ask about the past, and 2. Don’t expect a future. Of course, Tate is incredibly curious and often wonders about Mile’s history, which we get glimpses of in chapters titled “6 years before,” showing why Miles acts the way he does. However, there isn’t any excuse for why he treats Tate the way he does. On one occasion, while having intercourse, Miles completes inside Tate, stands up, walks away and slams his bedroom door, leaving her naked and crying. On another occasion, Miles calls Tate his ex-girlfriend’s name while they’re having sex, and, even though she’s in shock, she tells him to finish anyways. I’ve seen readers excuse his actions because six years prior, he lost his newborn child when he was 18 years old, a child whom the mother was also the step-sister (I know, bear with me here). It was gruesome, devastating and Rachel (the ex) left him after months of blaming him for the death (which occurred in a car crash where Miles was driving). While I do feel for past Miles, I can’t justify present Miles actions, they shouldn’t have ended up together, and Tate was a frustrating main character with a doormat personality whose storyline was to only benefit Miles. 

1 out of 5 Stars (0 stars if I could)

While I wasn’t a fan of Hoover’s novels, I understand why so many other people are. Her plots are exciting and different from other romance stories, but sadly, they both fell flat for me. I will definitely be reading It Starts With Us, though! #TeamLilyandAtlas

Follow my Goodreads for my book reviews! @KristabelAlvarez

Kristabel (She/They) is a senior studying English Literature and History at the University of Central Florida. They love classic horror movies, cuddling with cats Ahsoka and Aero, playing horror games on their PC, and reading anything from new adult fiction to literature classics! Instagram- notkristabel
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