Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us: Should It Have Ever Started?

Bella Carter, Reporter

Colleen Hoover is a popular BookTok author, with her books gaining popularity and notoriety in TikTok communities in 2021, especially with young women. She has reached our student body with the utilization of TikTok marketing. Ms. Forfa, our school librarian, remarked that Hoover “is one of our most requested authors this year, I think it’s because of BookTok”. The school currently does not have Hoover’s work, so our library has to reach out to the West Springfield Public Library to supply these titles to interested students. “I’ve had 6 separate requests for different Colleen Hoover books so far this year- which I’ve ordered through the public library. I’ve never had requests for her books in previous years,” commented Ms. Forfa. However, despite her books being  generally easy and entertaining, Ms. Forfa is hesitant to purchase them for the school because “I don’t think they fit in with our school’s library materials policy [due to adult content].”

I didn’t want to make any secondhand claims, so I went and got my hands on three of her novels: All Your Perfects, It Ends With Us, and Verity. I read them in that order, and coincidentally liked them in the reverse.

All Your Perfects is the worst out of these three books. The main character, Quinn, was very one dimensional. It wasn’t until the last third of the book that you get to know the lead and her love interest, which is a one page list of all of his and Quinn’s political beliefs. The book features two timelines, where Quinn met her husband, and farther into their marriage when they struggle with infertility. Throughout the whole thing, Quinn is focused on her husband and getting pregnant, with no outside passions or motives besides that. There is even a part in the book where she states that her purpose for existing is to reproduce and I think that in a romance novel, that statement makes assertions about how relationships should work and even how women should view themselves. On top of implying that women only exist for reproduction, the book focuses mainly on the physical relationship between the romantic leads. Instead of delving into the impact of how their many failed attempts led to the romance deteriorating (which honestly would have been so much better), all of her attempts to get pregnant or adopt are merely written off as failures to justify the sex, despite there being no real romance in the relationship like the genre implies. 

It Ends With Us features a main character called Lily, and its main theme focuses on the cycle of abuse and its victims. Hoover’s author’s note as well as the dedication to the book comes from a personal place for her. Ultimately I thought she dealt with the theme accurately and with a fair degree of sensitivity. There were lots of things in this book that I found I agree with, like commentary on the social pressure to have children (ironic considering some of the themes in All Your Perfects). However, separate from the themes is the romance, and to that end I find the same issues as All Your Perfects. There is no emotional intimacy without there being physical intimacy as well, like the scene where Ryle talks about his dead brother and then immediately wants to sleep with Lily. Frankly, it makes their relationship shallow. There is also a continued theme of self deprecation, I saw it in All Your Perfects with Quinn being super down on herself, and here again with Lily being very insecure about her features and body. Neither Quinn nor Lily are relatable for that because they’re still meant to be conventionally beautiful. It just screams to me that either Hoover herself is that insecure, or she thinks that women are or should be insecure. This attitude prevents the stories from providing any female empowerment, despite women being the protagonists in each one.

Verity was the best of the bunch by far. Reading it surprised me because while yes, the main villain Verity was portrayed as obsessed with her husband and their physical relationship to a very unhealthy degree, it was written as being scary and wrong instead of being expected from the relationship like Quinn from All Your Perfects, where it was seen as understandable. However, Verity is not the main character, and the actual protagonist, Lowen, is just as boring as Quinn. Lowen is just some girl who needs money so she goes to Verity’s home and falls for her husband (after he watches her change when they first meet?! Ew). And honestly, the fact that Lowen was there took away from the story. She was a terrible narrator who constantly flip-flopped between lusting after Verity’s husband and being creeped out by Verity herself. Hoover was trying to write a psychological thriller, but because she followed the romance formula (meet cute+protagonist and love interest end up together), the potential that the story had wasn’t actually met. Alongside furthering my disappointment, this one really cemented something that I had been thinking about during the first two books I read. Colleen Hoover uses pregnancy for dramatic effect. **SPOILER** She did in All Your Perfects with the infertility theme and the miscarriage, she did it in It Ends With Us to give Lily a reason to leave her husband, and she does it in Verity to make it seem like the two main characters actually had chemistry when they absolutely did not. 

I didn’t go into this process thinking very highly of Colleen Hoover’s writing. I had heard that her work is misogynistic and just plain bad from reviews that I had seen. Despite that, I kept an open mind and found that her plot development skill was pretty good. She balanced two timelines in All Your Perfects, and it was done well. In It Ends With Us, she wanted to show characters breaking the cycle of domestic abuse, and she accomplished that. And with Verity, I can’t say that I wasn’t impressed by her final plot twist. However, her writing is by no means prolific. Her characters were flat, her style is monotonous, and the little amount of actual romance was only there to justify the characters sleeping together. It is important to remember that what she does well doesn’t take away from what she does wrong. Colleen Hoover has potential as a writer if her books weren’t so heavily marketed towards such an impressionable age group who can easily mistake dysfunction for the ideal romance. 

If you want an author that can portray actual romance stories, John Green’s The Fault in our Stars, and Paper Towns are fantastic reads that aren’t lacking in actual romantic chemistry like Hoover’s work. If you want plot twisty and dark novels, I’d recommend Stuart Turton’s The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and The Devil and the Dark Water are amazing thriller mysteries. If you’d like a bit more representation in your romance novels, I’d look into Casey McQuinston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue, as well as One Last Stop, which both feature same-sex romances. In my opinion, even though Colleen Hoover’s writing is popular right now, there are plenty of better options out there.