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The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

‘It Ends with Us’ Reveals the Problem with BookTok

Colleen Hoover, BookTok’s favorite author, dilutes the exploration of abuse and trauma in her bestselling romance novel, “It Ends With Us.” Despite its recent surge in popularity, the novel struggles to deliver substantive literary depth.

“He was Marlin and I was Dory. ‘Just keep swimming,’ I whispered to him,” writes Colleen Hoover in her bestselling romance novel, “It Ends With Us.” In addition to this cringe-inducing “Finding Nemo” reference, Hoover’s novel includes various unpleasantries that distract the reader from deeper themes of domestic abuse and generational trauma. “It Ends With Us” simultaneously exemplifies the influence of BookTok and the dangers of clichés when writing about heavier topics. 

The popular social media app TikTok has various subcategories, including BookTok. Members of the BookTok community post content recommending their favorite reads, reviewing new books, and promoting healthy discussion about trending works of literature. A detriment of this subsection, however, is the glorification of the same few books or authors, usually of the Young Adult genre. Hoover is the most notable example of this: an author whose novels blossom into a phenomenon despite being subpar. She published “It Ends With Us” in 2016, but it only garnered attention within the last two years—mostly due to BookTok. The acclaim even led her to produce a sequel, “It Starts With Us,” in Oct. 2022. 

It Ends with Us: A Novel (1) by Hoover, Colleen
“It Ends With Us,” released by Colleen Hoover in 2016 (Credit: Barnes & Noble).

“I don’t post to BookTok, but I follow a lot of book recommendation accounts, and I see videos all the time,” junior Emily Shaul said. “A lot of [accounts] discuss the same trending books, but if you know where to look, [BookTok] can be a valuable resource.” 

“It Ends With Us” is a disgrace to literature. Despite selling more than two million copies in 2022, it is neither thought-provoking nor gripping—just disappointing. Her poorly-named protagonist, Lily Blossom Bloom, falls in love with Ryle Kincaid, a handsome and troubled neurosurgeon. After they marry within six months of dating, Lily accidentally encounters her first love, Atlas Corrigan. In turn, Ryle’s jealous rage stirs memories of Lily’s abusive father and passive mother, urging her to break the cycle of trauma. “It Ends With Us” attempted to thoughtfully navigate themes of domestic abuse and generational trauma, but the poor execution rendered the novel another standard romance. 

Many writers use vivid descriptions to mask the lack of substance in their novels. Hoover, however, does not even possess skill with imagery. Lily Blossom Bloom, whose name is further disparaged by her job as a florist, describes a steampunk-themed flower bouquet, decorated with “metal washers and gears” and a “super-glued clock.”

The novel primarily contains dialogue and internal monologues, frequently leaving the setting and visual descriptions as gaping holes in the reader’s knowledge. Hoover’s efforts to depict steampunk-themed flowers are confusing and underdeveloped, much like her characters’ personalities. 

In addition to their poor names, her characters are equally vapid and unlikable, possibly more so. Lily marries a man she dated for six months—without a substantial discussion about their future. Subsequently, it does not come as a surprise when their relationship ends up failing, partly due to their differing aspirations. When Lily hides her ex-boyfriend’s cell phone number in the back of her phone case, her husband inevitably finds it, sparking another fight between the couple and diminishing the reader’s attachment to both characters, not just the abusive husband. It is difficult to root for a protagonist—or any other character, for that matter—who repeatedly falls into self-made traps. The one-dimensional characters weaken the impact of the novel as a whole. 

“I think the author should treat the subject [of domestic abuse] with care, but … it shouldn’t be ignored and not written about,” sophomore Noya Zarnighian said, advocating for the importance of awareness. 

As a novel intended to illuminate why someone would be inclined to stay in an abusive marriage, “It Ends With Us” unfortunately misses the mark. In fact, the unoriginal lines and underdeveloped aspects of the novel eclipse this theme entirely. Despite Hoover’s strength with dialogue, her impressive ability to gradually alter the relationships between two characters, and unique subject matter, the clichés are distracting. Though this might be excused—or less glaringly obvious—if “It Ends With Us” was just another romance novel, exploring domestic abuse requires caution that Hoover ultimately lacks. 

“I typically read fantasy or romance, so I thought ‘It Ends With Us’ would be good, but it wasn’t as interesting or compelling to read,” junior Rafi Sarraf said. “I liked ‘Verity,’ another one of Hoover’s novels, but … ‘It Ends With Us’ wasn’t as attention-grabbing.” 

“Based on what I’ve heard, I wouldn’t want to read this,” senior Rachel Bagim said. “It sounds shallow and, in my opinion, [like] a waste of … time.”

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About the Contributor
Jolie Nassi, Managing Editor
Jolie Nassi is one of Guide Post’s managing editors. Her writing can be found in the New York Times, Guide Post, and the wall of CS’s backroom. In addition to writing, her other hobbies include reading, researching historical events, and drinking prolific amounts of bubble tea with her friends. She is also an officer for several clubs at North High, such as Model U.N. and Mock Trial. Jolie is a passionate grammarian, dedicated CSer, and aspiring English major.

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