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Colleen Hoover is Overrated

Avery Mathieu
Illustration of three of Colleen Hoovers most popular books, Verity, Ugly Love, and It Ends With Us.

Warning — This article contains spoilers and mentions abuse, sex, rape, and loss of children

Colleen Hoover’s books have been seen all over stores for a few years. Every time I walk into Walmart or Target and go to look at the book section I can guarantee that there will be shelves full of her books. However, I believe Colleen Hoover and her books to be highly overrated.

She first gained popularity in 2020 due to BookTok, a community on Tik Tok dedicated to sharing about books. Hoover’s book “It Ends With Us,” published in 2016, can be given credit for her rapid growth in popularity. 

The book “It Ends With Us” is a romance novel following Lily Bloom and Ryle Kincaid. Lily and Ryle slowly fall in love and throughout their romance Ryle becomes jealous of Lily and her high school sweetheart, Atlas. The book spends some time switching from present time to Lily’s diary entries from high school where we learn about the abuse her mother faced from her father. The jealousy from Ryle soon turns to abuse, which Lily forgives him time and again, always returning to him and eventually marrying him. Their relationship finally comes to an end when he reads her diaries from her teenage years, finding out the truth of her and Atlas’ relationship. When she arrives home, this is revealed and he begins pulling her hair, biting her, and tries to rape her. After this she decides to finally leave him but finds out she is pregnant with his baby. The rest of the book Lily tries to figure out how to manage split custody while trying to keep her baby safe.

I first read this book in 2021 when I was getting into reading more. It drew me in so quickly that I read the whole thing in one day. I admit when I read it I loved it and immediately wanted to read more of her work. I think this is Hoover’s specialty, she seems like a good author when you have nothing to compare it to. But, once you do, you realize just how bad her books are.

Now when I go back to think about this book I find it crazy to think that I thought this book was so good. Hoover’s writing is just not that serious. The main character’s name is Lily Blossom Bloom and she opens a flower shop. This type of detail makes it seem like the book is just a joke, seeming like she didn’t really care to put any effort into it.

The book also heavily romanticizes the male love interest who spends the whole book being super toxic, abusive, obsessive and jealous. After his first two interactions with Lily, he finds out what apartment building she lives in but not which apartment it is. So he goes around knocking on every door in the building until he reaches her, in the end he knocks on 29 doors. Now you would be thinking that he would show up with some romantic gesture, but instead he just begs her to sleep with him. After he had been told no twice by her already.

One of the reasons this book got so popular was the supposed “good guy” of the book, Atlas, however he is also problematic. Atlas is obsessive as well as Ryle, though he isn’t as aggressive or outwardly creepy about it. Atlas and Lily originally meet and date as teenagers, then they meet again during the book and it is revealed that Atlas has never dated anyone else in the estimated eight years since then. 

Atlas also shares that he visited her once at college, but upon seeing her with her then boyfriend decided against approaching her. Instead, he sat on a bench and watched her from a distance.

I think the worst part about Atlas may be the over-romanticizing that readers do to his character. A lot of the fans of this book enjoyed how protective he was over Lily and how he always tried to help her deal with Ryle. I don’t really understand this obsession though, to me this seems like the bare minimum. If you are in love with someone – despite how creepy that love may be – shouldn’t you want to protect them and help them get out of a seriously abusive relationship?

This book as well as the others that I have read are extremely unrealistic. When Lily finally leaves Ryle and has her baby, it is supposed to be a huge moment in the book, and I think if she cut all contact with Ryle it might’ve been a better ending. But, Lily decides to share custody so her daughter can have a father figure. I think in her situation I wouldn’t care about her having a father figure, he abused her on multiple occasions and even tried to rape her. I don’t think I would ever let my child be around a person like that.

However, people loved this so much that they made it a #1 New York Times bestseller and fans of the book begged for a sequel. The second book “It Starts With Us” came out in 2022, long after I came to the realization that Hoover’s books weren’t actually good. However I was curious to see just how she was going to continue this story, so I read the book.

In my opinion this book was much worse than the first one. I think the only reason she wrote it was because she wanted the money. There was no reason to continue the story otherwise, especially if it was just going to give more of a look into how problematic her characters and their lives are. The book was so forgettable the only thing I remember is that Lily and Atlas start dating. 

In one of her other books, “Ugly Love,” she keeps up with the idea of being unrealistic. In this book, when the male main character, Miles, is a teenager she falls in love with a girl that turns out to be his soon to be step-sister. When they find this out, they decide to stay together anyway and he ends up getting her pregnant. Later they have the baby and on the drive home from the hospital they get into an accident and the baby passes away. Miles then lives with the guilt and trauma of this accident for years. Presently he is falling for another girl, but his trauma keeps him from truly committing to her, so he decides to visit his step-sister to apologize for the accident. When he gets to her house she is married with kids and tells him to apologize to himself because she moved on. 

So he did. He lived with this guilt for years and all he needed was his step-sister/ex-girlfriend to tell him to forgive himself and all of his problems were solved and they lived happily ever after.

This book also lacked an important detail when writing the books, the characters were unlikeable. The main female character, Tate, didn’t even stand out, her whole purpose was that she wanted a relationship with her older brother’s best friend Miles. When he says no, they resort to a friend with benefits. Other than their relationship, she didn’t do anything, she was just this girl with no personality that wanted to date a guy. When writing a book, your main character should probably be interesting, and I just don’t think Hoover achieves that.

The only other book I could bear reading was “Verity.” This book has so many problems with it, being one of Hoover’s most interesting plots, and not necessarily in a good way.

In keeping up with the other books, the characters are all just a little insane, especially Verity. Verity is the wife of the male main character, she has a brain injury leaving her unable to care for herself, but by the end of the book it is revealed she was faking the whole time. Not only was that plot incredibly predictable, it was also so unrealistic. 

Similar to “It Ends With Us,” there is a switch between present and past through Verity’s chapters for a manuscript she had written before her accident. The female main character, Lowen, then reads these manuscripts, in which Verity details how she is jealous of her own children for stealing her husband’s attention from her and making him love something other than her.

These manuscripts also admit that she killed her children in the hopes that she would get all of her husband’s attention back. She ends up killing two of her three children and fears her husband will leave her so she crashes her car, then fakes a brain injury to force her husband to take care of her.

There are so many other problems with this book and all of her others, but there is truly just too much that can be said about her writing.

One of the other problems I have with Hoover’s books is that they are all advertised as romances. These books may have romance in them, yes, but I don’t think they are romance. It seems almost harmful to advertise her books as romance because the stories should not be connected to the word at all. The books are absolutely not romantic and to give people the idea that they are or that they are an example of what romance looks like seems harmful.

I think if we are going to focus on any part of the book it should absolutely not be the romance. The romance is barely there to begin with because what readers think is romance is not, it is toxic obsession. I think if anything we should focus on the tragedy and trauma of the characters, “It Ends With Us” is a story of overcoming an abusive relationship. So, we should stop falsely advertising that it is some nice romance for everyone, because it isn’t.

Overall, I dislike her books because they are advertised to have these deep topics, all of which follow the main theme of tragedy and trauma. However, I think these books lack the depth required to implement these themes and be well produced. They seem like the first rough draft of a book that could be deeper and ultimately better, if they underwent major changes.

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About the Contributor
Avery Mathieu
Avery Mathieu, Writer
Avery Mathieu is a junior staff member for the Owl Post. This is her first year on the staff. The other activity she is involved in at Olathe West is theatre. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, crocheting and listening to Taylor Swift. 

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