Image from author.
Recently, a craze over romance novels has disrupted the literary community. Romance books have trended non-stop for months on social media platforms and have been constant bestsellers in local bookshops. One of the most influential people behind this fad is a New York Times bestselling author, Colleen Hoover.
Hoover has published over 25 books. At the time of writing, 4 out of the top 10 paperback trade fiction bestsellers are books written by Hoover. Her most popular story, It Ends With Us, has been on this list for 122 weeks. The consensus on Hoover’s novels is positive, with readers claiming to get lost in the pages.
That’s not the only thing getting lost in the frenzy. It seems that people are losing their common sense, and quite frankly, their taste, as well.
Colleen Hoover’s books are not good. There is no other way to put it.
Record-breaking sales and a passionate fan base don’t equate to good writing. Hoover’s books are cheap, formulaic, and romanticize topics that should never be romanticized. The praise Hoover is receiving is not deserved and makes me question the standards that today’s readers have.
My biggest issue with Hoover’s writing is the tropes she chooses to use and the way she romanticizes abusive situations. In It Ends With Us, for example, Hoover writes abusive characters off as “morally gray.” It Ends With Us features Ryle (first off, what kind of name is Ryle? Kyle with an R?), a persistent, overprotective boyfriend of the main character. In reality, the actions of this character are controlling, manipulative, and condescending. Ryle is nothing short of an abusive partner, yet Hoover constantly brings his character back and makes excuses for his unacceptable behavior.
Stories like Hoover’s are damaging to readers, especially younger audiences because they normalize abuse and trauma. If a 14-year-old were to read one of Hoover’s abuse-filled novels and see things like physical and mental exploitation being talked about like any other stereotypical romance trope, they might go on in life to think things like this are common and should be accepted. God forbid they ever find themselves in that kind of relationship.
Her sympathetic tendencies towards abusive characters may stem from more than just poor writing choices. It doesn’t help that Hoover’s son has a sexual assault accusation against him. Hoover also decided it would be a good idea to make a coloring book based on It Ends With Us. I know what you’re thinking, a coloring book doesn’t sound too bad, Sarah, why are you bringing that up?
Oh, just the fact that this coloring book would have included scenes containing domestic violence and abuse that the main character went through. I say ‘would have’ because, thankfully, this coloring book was canceled as fans put Hoover in her place and explained to her how tone-deaf this was.
On top of all this, her writing is just plain bad. I’ve heard people compare it to fanfiction written by a 13-year-old and I do not think that comparison is much of a stretch. The vocabulary Hoover uses could be understood by a child still in elementary school and the syntax is so mundane, you only need to read her books with half of your brain working.
And I think that the fact that she’s written over 25 novels, all in the same genre, speaks volumes. No one can write that many plotlines without getting stale.
However, I can still understand the appeal of her books to a certain audience. Her books are easy to read and more or less finish with happy endings. For people who haven’t read better books before, Hoover’s stories might seem good, even great. But for those of us who know what else is out there, Hoover’s novels are just a waste of paper.
Sarah Hamilton is a junior at Washington High School and has lived in the Bay Area for the majority of her life. This is her first year working on The Hatchet and she hopes to write about her opinions and cover global topics. She is a captain of the girls tennis team and works at the bookshop in town. Sarah is an avid reader of novels by Haruki Murakami and loves going to concerts and exploring San Francisco and Berkeley. She hopes to attend college on the East Coast and major in English with a minor in economics or publishing.