Riley Reads Colleen Hoover....unfortunately

Riley Reads Colleen Hoover….unfortunately

International TikTok sensation. Award winning author. Over the last few years, Colleen Hoover—CoHo, as she is more informally and affectionately known to her fans—has taken the world by storm with her various romance and thriller books. Her readers range from adoring fans who refuse to read any other author, to people like me who would rather claw their own eyes out than read another one of her books. Am I being dramatic? Yes. But that is the theme. I suffered through not one, not two, but five of Colleen Hoover’s most infamous books to really see what all the hype was about. You are welcome, and I am sorry.

It Ends With Us

I wish it ended faster. 

Lily Blossom Bloom—yes, that is her real name; I wish I was kidding—is a twenty-something year-old flower shop owner—again, I wish I was kidding—with daddy issues and not much other personality. She is contemplating death on a rooftop, as one does, when she meets Ryle Kincaid (again, I really wish I was kidding), a hot neurosurgeon with anger issues and buried trauma, so of course Lily immediately decides he is a keeper. Spoiler alert: he is not. 

The thing about this book is that it deals with such deep and sensitive subjects such as domestic violence and trauma, but then at the same time it features a diary Lily wrote in her youth exclusively through letters to Ellen DeGeneres. Yep. Really, really wish I was kidding. Ryle ultimately turns out to be abusive in their marriage, and Lily struggles to reconcile this with the man she thought she knew. Fortunately, she is saved by her high school sweetheart, Atlas, when he returns out of the blue as a restaurant owner. He is a much better romantic interest, especially since they met when he was eighteen to her fifteen, and he waited until her sixteenth birthday to sleep with her so it would be legal. Yep. Romantic. 

It is hard to view this book as the inspiring novel about overcoming abuse Hoover wants it to be when paired with the juvenile writing, the other problematic aspects that are written off as okay or even romantic and the borderline abusive relationships featured and romanticized in almost all of her other books. All in all, it is pretty hard to see “It Ends With Us” for what it is trying to be—inspiring, uplifting, heart-wrenching, feminist—when all you can focus on is what it actually ends up being: insensitive, irritating and problematic.


Ugly Love

This whole book was ugly. 

One of the main components of this book is a romance between two step-siblings, and I would consider that one of the least problematic aspects. The love interest, Miles, has a dark past and secrets. The main character, Tate, would very much like to know what said secrets are. That, and the fact that she finds Miles very attractive, make up just about all of her personality traits. Seriously. Everything we know about Tate after reading an entire book from her perspective: she’s a nurse, she has a brother, she likes orange juice and she thinks Miles is hot. While Miles gets a traumatic backstory involving his mother dying, falling in love with his step-sister, having a baby, getting into a car accident which causes said baby to die, all Tate gets is that she likes orange juice. Also, her best friend is an 80-year-old man who just sort of lingers around the apartment building waiting for her to spill her deepest darkest secrets at any time of the day. Even Rachel, the first girl Miles fell in love with who has exactly one chapter from her perspective, has more personality, emotional depth and general character development than Tate gets throughout the entire book. 

I’ll sum it up for you: Tate moves into a new apartment with a hot neighbor. Hot Neighbor has issues that he refuses to talk about. Tate decides to start sleeping with him anyway, despite the numerous red flags. Throughout the entire book, Tate is consciously aware of how terrible the decisions she is making are, and yet she continues to make them. She actively admits that she has feelings for Miles and she wants more from him than just sex, while he actively tells her that he cannot give that to her. It is so incredibly hard to feel bad for her when everything inevitably comes crashing down on her, when the entire book she has been talking about how everything is going to inevitably come crashing down on her. Seriously, Tate. Even Miles, a walking red flag, can admit that he is a walking red flag. The first time she even meets him, he is passed out drunk and murmuring gibberish about Rachel. What about that, and his two rules being, “Don’t ask about my past and don’t expect a future,” make you think that you should enter into any sort of relationship with this man who very clearly is not emotionally available or stable?



Slammed my head against a wall reading this. 

“Slammed” may very well be Colleen Hoover’s most unhinged book. For starters, the romance is between a teacher and a student (call the cops), and it wonderfully features slam poetry. Here is the thing: *heavy sigh* I have nothing against poetry. In fact, I can be a fan of poetry on a good day. However, something about Colleen Hoover writing the male love interest (a teacher) perform slam poetry, coupled with the painfully obvious and in-your-face slam poetry metaphors, makes it pretty difficult to appreciate the poetic integrity of the art form. 

It seems necessary to point out that the main character, Layken (her mom wanted to name her Layla while her father wanted to name her Kennedy, so naturally they just smashed the two names together) and the love interest, Will, did not know that he was her teacher when they first met. However, the fact that Will was in fact entirely aware of the fact that she was 18 and therefore was potentially still in school while he was actively a high school teacher who taught 18-year-olds is quite troubling. Also troubling, the following quote: “‘Hot’ would be how most girls would describe him, but I’m not most girls.” Aaaaaand that is how you know this book was written in 2012. Right at the height of the “I’m not like other girls” phenomenon, when people—especially girls—placed a lot of value in the fact that they did not do or like typical “girl things.”

The whole book is just weird to me. After knowing each other for about a week and going on one single date, Layken and Will are absolutely devastated to find out that they cannot be together—because he is her teacher. They are genuinely shaken to their absolute cores.


November 9

Every single part of me was praying that “Ugly Love” would be the worst one. It seemed inevitable. I do not think I had ever hated a book as much as I hated that one. And then I read “November 9.” 

Be warned: spoilers ahead for the “big plot twist.” 

The love interest of this book—Benton James Kessler, as he insists on introducing himself to everyone—quite literally committed arson and permanently scarred the main character and almost killed her two years prior to the start of the book. Great start. Still, this book is marketed as a romance and the two shockingly end up together. How sweet. 

Benton James Kessler: writer, narcissist, arsonist, rapist. The amount of non-consensual sexual activities that happen in this book is absolutely off the charts, especially considering it is—again—marketed as a romance. There is more than one instance in which the main character, Fallon, verbally asks him to stop and he continues anyway. Despite Fallon’s insistence that she is uncomfortable, Ben continually forces her to wear clothes that reveal her skin and her scars—the scars that, mind you, he gave her. He degrades her, he stalks her, he makes jokes that are very obviously uncomfortable and invasive. All he seems to think and talk about is her panties and her body. 

Despite this book’s attempt to address insecurity and body dysmorphia, there is still a heavy emphasis on the fact that Fallon is beautiful despite her scars. It does not help that Fallon was already an extremely conventionally attractive girl. She has almost no self-worth prior to meeting Ben and it is only after she is convinced that he is attracted to her that she starts to value herself. Once again, Colleen Hoover writes an abusive male love interest with a female main character who has no agency over her own life and no self-worth without the assurance of a hot guy.

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