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It Starts with Us
by Colleen Hoover
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What was this book about? I'm not sure... ( )
It Starts With Us was one of the most anticipated titles of 2022 for a large group of readers. Talk was everywhere – and then it wasn’t. I don’t really look at TikTok that much so I may have missed discussion. It’s a nice follow up but lacks the emotional turmoil and drama of It Ends With Us and Colleen Hoover’s other novels. It’s a bit…well, bland.
This is a novel where you really have had to read the first book to understand what is going on. There’s no deep introduction to the backstory of Lily and first love Atlas, nor their relationships to the other characters. It starts some time from the last page of It Ends With Us and alternates first person chapters with Lily and Atlas. In a way, this is more of Atlas’ story (he’s got some dramas in his life) while not really that much happens with Lily. Given Lily’s history with her volatile ex-husband Ryle, there isn’t too much going on. Even Ryle is kind of subdued for him (maybe the anger management classes or working – or he’s finally realised that a surgeon does need his hands). I was much more invested in Atlas’ story, because the reader really didn’t get much of it in the first book (I don’t think Lily knew the details and as it turns out, nor did Atlas. I enjoyed it more than the story of Lily and Atlas finally getting together, which is slow (quite OK) and smooth (a little boring).
I would love to know if Colleen Hoover ever really planned to write a sequel to It Ends With Us or whether it was driven by pressure from social media and elsewhere. It’s a valiant effort but it lacks her trademark pulling at strings and putting her characters through incredibly emotional things. It’s just…nice. Kind of a lo-fi version. Nobody’s dramas are insurmountable, but they aren’t quite end of your seat stuff either. It’s not a novel where ‘just one more chapter’ occurs repeatedly. I did read it pretty quickly, but I find that’s my usual with Hoover novels. In a way, it was kind of relaxing because I wasn’t as emotionally invested.
It’s not that It Starts With Us is terrible. Colleen Hoover’s voices for Lily and Atlas are distinctive and she gets straight into their heads. It’s just it doesn’t have any deep tension or issues that aren’t resolved in a chapter. It’s like going on the kiddy roller coaster after riding the scariest roller coaster. I did like the new characters, Theo and Josh (both kids). Theo has a talent for the verbal burn and Josh tests the limits repeatedly. I’m reluctant to suggest a book with them in the future…but it could be good…
The author has said she would not write an sequel for It Ends with Us but because of high fan demand she wrote one to make the couple happy and reader satisfied. Well it definitely shows. This is totally fan service. It’s like a poorly made Lifetime made for TV movie and worst it is so so boring! Seriously, I so regret even picking up the book thinking there might be something new. Many times I almost gave up but I stuck to the end because I kept wanting to know if anything interesting actually happens. No, nothing but boring boring repetitive writing. If not for the serious topic it touched on, I will give it zero star. Total waste of my time.
Honestly this book had no reason to exist, because the other book while it was bad wrapped it up well. It gave us an ending where we could have whatever we wanted in our minds happen even if it contradicted that ending. This is just an extra little add-on so that everybody who didn't get enough of that painful writing came back and got another dose. Purely out of "I've got to see it through my boy" completionist energy.
At least we have to put up with these weird names and get a good conclusion, the last book sucked. I'm still not happy that we're stuck here, with these characters who have these names. Lily Blossom Bloom and Atla and Ryle. Man. I will never want to hear another person named Lily after this.
While this book is also not great, I will give a couple more good things in my review unlike most of my other CoHo reviews where it's all pain.
For one thing she is definitely gotten people reading again, even if this is trash literature I guess she's the Stephanie Myers of mommy books right now. Not sure I really appreciate that but I'm glad people are reading? I just wish they were advancing into more interesting reads. Booktok has the worst taste in the world and I will stand by that until the day I die.
Another thing, her covers are usually so pretty, I see them all the time at bookstores. The next line will actually go a little bit more into that but I do see her pretty book covers constantly and I cannot deny that they are exceedingly simple but nice. This one is no exception.
Whenever I go to my local Barnes & Noble or even my Books-A-Million one thing is always certain, there is either a defined cube or a pyramid of Colleen Hoover books. And these books are untouched. This is a consistent thing I don't go every day but when I go weekly it doesn't matter what day of the week I go that pyramid of Colleen Hoover books will be untouched.
I can believe that she was successful, and sold a lot, and now nobody buys her books. But still, those pyramids sit there untouched all day, and all week.
She's so last week.
Book one I might have been rough on but at least I can say that there was one saving grace of it: the woman knows how to write abuse. Which gets to be continued on in here, for example there's a scene where she looks at her tattoo and it has these teeth scars from where Ryle bit her, and it's a lasting memoir to the idea that their relationship had that happen at one of its middle stages so what would have happened at its worse?
I'm glad Ryle didn't get redeemed, if anything else can be said it's I'm glad he wasn't redeemed and he's still the terrible person he is in the second book.
Ryle being romanticized at all, however...
The good stuff ends here.
A little known thing that people don't really ever hear about or talk about, this author was once a social worker. I don't know if she ever actually did her job right or even did it well, given she writes this stuff as romance and a lot of it is abuse. I definitely wouldn't say a woman who writes abuse and says it's love knows what she's doing as a social worker, but once upon a time, Colleen was a social worker.
She's also probably got some kind of fetish that drove her to get that job. It's uneducated gas to believe when somebody writes about abuse, rape to love, and hurting people until they enjoy it that there's some fetishistic part of their brain that wanted this to be out there because it was want something that they were aroused by. And I'm not shaming her if so but if so, keep it out of your books because it's so obvious what you're into and I'm not okay with that. Especially when it's labeled as romance and not erotica or horror.
This book had no purpose of existing but I feel it has a better lot in existence.
I would give this book honestly a 2.5 stars.
Atlas and Lily continue on
Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil coparenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date. But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life--and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter's life.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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