Colleen Hoover- Does She Deserve The Hype?
October 11, 2022
Colleen Hoover, a 42-year-old writer from Texas, is a New York Times #1 bestselling author. Her most famous book, It Ends With Us, has sold over a million copies worldwide, has over a billion tags on TikTok, received over a million reviews on Goodreads, and has been on The New York Times Best Sellers list for 67 weeks. In addition, she has written a large number of other best-sellers, including November 9, Ugly Love, Verity, and more. It has become undoubtedly clear that the reading community, specifically Booktok and BookTube, have unofficially crowned her queen- but is it a deserved coronation? No successful author can receive praise without criticism. Recently, some people online have been stating their opinion that her books, despite their popularity, may present unrealistic and immature plots and writing styles. This begs the question: Does Collen Hoover deserve all her praise? In my opinion, she does not (Note: In this article, I do not list specific examples for the sake of making this article spoiler-free).
Let me start by saying this; I don’t entirely dislike Collen Hoover. Reading and everything it entails is a complicated topic to analyze, considering it is completely left up to taste. Genres, tropes, characters, plots, books, authors, and writing styles all have many contradicting reviews simply because praise and slander stem from one’s personal preferences. The opinion aspect is my favorite part of literature. Because of this, I don’t label Colleen Hoover as a bad author, and I can recognize the good she has done for the community.
One of the main reasons why people criticize Hoover is because she has become basic. People on Tiktok have been joking that girls who read Colleen Hoover can’t read and that her books don’t count as actual books due to how easy they are to follow. I think shaming people who enjoy Colleen’s books is a pretentious waste of time. Whether or not you like Hoover, it is undeniable that she has gotten a large part of today’s population, specifically teenage girls, into or back into reading. For this, I commend her. My distaste for Hoover does not come from such pointless matters but is brought about from the very basis of her books: the writing itself.
Hoover is known for her emotional plot twists, melodramatic characters, and unique character relationships. However, despite the apparent depth of her plot, her writing has always felt very superficial to me. Initially, this makes no sense; how can a novel that is built around heavy and adult topics possibly be defined as shallow? I have found that her texts feel this way to me because of her plot and her presentation. More specifically, I don’t think her writing correlates with what she is writing about.
While I respect her attempt to bring depth into her books, I don’t think she possesses the skills to execute it properly. Her writing, to put it plainly, is childish. It’s not the simplicity of her writing that I have a problem with, it’s the juvenility feel of her expressions. Suppose you disregard the plot and look solely at her linguistic choices. In that case, you will start to identify her undeniable cringe factor and unoriginal phrasing, which are characteristics common to that of a book you read in middle school. Trying to read about adult topics in a YA writing style is one of those things that feels illegal but isn’t. When the writing style doesn’t match what you are writing about, the story becomes somewhat distant and has the effect of a poorly-written book. I feel as though I am reading a piece of writing instead of feeling inside a story.
Because of this, I have never been able to connect with her characters. Colleen loves to add darkness, so she gives her characters unsettling pasts in an attempt to complicate them and their relationships with others. However, because her writing style is so light, her heavy topics weigh it down and make them feel out of place. When a reader can locate an author’s attempts at something, in this case, Colleen’s attempts at adding depth, the writing becomes writing as opposed to a story. It feels as if she is giving these characters dark backgrounds and strange quirks for the sole purpose of making them unique. She wants her writing to stand out as something different; instead, it just feels overdramatic and impractical.
Another big issue with Colleen is her plots or endings that feel entirely unrealistic. While no one loves sad endings, they are, without a doubt, the most effective. I have read 3 of Colleen’s novels, and all of them had the same plot: girl has a sad past, girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love, it turns out the boy is a huge liar, boy and girl go through hell, somehow boy and girl work it out and end up together. Based on my research, almost all of her other books follow this exact string of events or one similar to it.
Now, I need to clarify that I am not one of those cynical, pompous, self-claimed philosophers who criticize happy endings because they are not ‘deep enough. I am certainly a fan of feel-good endings, but only when they make sense. When you set up a story with purposefully disastrous characters, tragic backgrounds, destructive relationships, and catastrophic plot twists, ending it with a simple happily-ever-after is ridiculous.
In her circumstances, this can even be harmful. Colleen tries to take on significant, universal experiences and problems in her books, such as domestic abuse, miscarriage, and sexual assault. In doing so, she blurs the line between fiction and reality, making it critical to portray people’s situations accurately. Providing false representation on such matters can create negative stigmas and interpretations. I understand her wanting to spread the message that people aren’t defined by their circumstances and that good endings can happen even in the worst of situations. Still, the way Hoover goes about it seems too easy and happy-go-lucky to feel accurate.
Her choices give the impression that she writes solely to please her readers and prevent complaints, but I don’t think she realizes she can affect her readers even more by leaving them in mourning. If she understands that a good ending doesn’t always mean a happy one and started writing endings that somewhat correlate with the story she builds, the effect of her books would be much more accurate and persisting.
That said, please keep in mind that I am no critic, and my opinions are exactly that- opinions. I am not calling you dumb for liking Colleen Hoover, and I am certainly not trying to deaden her effect or mitigate her success. All I am saying is that based on my experiences with her books, I do not think Colleen is a good writer. Her writing does not carry the weight of her words; therefore, her stories feel less like stories and more like scripts. If it were any other writer, I would shrug this opinion off and simply not pick up another one of their books. Perhaps I would even label it as good, considering I would have read it without expectations. But because it is Colleen Hoover, an author with such overwhelming praise and notability, I felt the need to keep buying more of her books, desperately trying to convince myself I like her because no one wants to feel like they are missing something. But I am missing something- I am missing the hype on Colleen Hoover, and I am sure there are people out there who feel the same way.