OPINION: Colleen Hoover’s problematic romance is not worth the read


[CW: Adult themes, sexual assault, and abuse]

With the growing popularity of the video platform TikTok videos of every genre are shared and a popular search on the app is “#BookTok,” with over two million views. One glorified author across ‘BookTok’ is Colleen Hoover, a romance writer with best selling books like It Ends With Us and Ugly Love. However, I find these books and their popularity incredibly disturbing as they romanticize abusive and toxic relationships. 

With over 20 novels, you would expect Hoover’s characters and plot to vary in uniqueness. But that is not the case. Most of her work contains the same tired story of an emotionally unavailable man and a woman that loves too hard. This trope can only be written so many times before the ending of the book becomes painfully predictable. 

Within these formulaic relationships, the male counterpart of the relationship uses and abuses the woman and yet, she forgives him quickly and ends up with him, and their relationship is portrayed as a happily ever after. This is a common experience many of her female characters share, especially in Ugly Love.

In Hoover’s novel, November 9, main character Ben is responsible for ruining the life of main character Fallon. Yet, he makes the smallest amount of effort to win her back and succeeds. Looking past his life ruining felony, Fallon just can not seem to get him off her mind. The novel had many rolling their eyes, throwing books across the room, and asking ‘What is wrong with this girl?’ 

The same book had to be rewritten and republished as many readers complained about a scene, in which Ben sexually assualts Fallon, and the crime plays no large role in the developing boundaries between the two. Kudos to Hoover for fixing the mistake and listening to her audience, however, the chapters following the assault could have been used to show Fallon getting justice and growing stronger- instead, the following chapters remain with minor tweaks and it adds to the relationship and paints Ben as a “go-getter.”

With the constant back and forth in these novels and the traction Hoover has gained in the ‘BookTok’ community, many are left to wonder how her themes and events can influence young readers into believing the outdated mindset, “if they are mean to you, they like you.”

“I was obsessed with her books when they were getting popular on BookTok,” junior Elaine Paler said. “I understand now that her books have many red flags and there are questionable details and plot lines that make me wonder what I’m reading and why.” 

I do agree that there is questionable content and details in her books, the relationships are extreme.

— Kendall Nagaoka

Paler brought up, in an interview, the controversy concerning Hoover’s son, Levi, and his alleged sexual misconduct involving a minor; The accusation covered by online news outlet The Mary Sue, in article The Colleen Hoover controversy explained.

It seems as though the romanticization of horrifically abusive and uncomfortable relationships is an idea that has been passed down through the generations. Almost as if her son has also unfortunately read and been influenced by the fictional relationships his mother writes and the mindset necessary to create these stories in the first place.

Young readers should not be consuming media that tells them to put up with abuse in order to achieve their happy ending. While I became immersed in the world of reading, Hoover’s books gave me unrealistic and unhealthy standards for romantic relationships.

A student that enjoys most of Hoover’s works is junior Kendall Nagaoka. Although she appreciates Hoover’s writing, even she is aware of the dangers of the content. “I do agree that there is questionable content and details in her books, the relationships are extreme,” Nagaoka said.

I will not claim that Hoover cannot write, she writes well and creates images in the minds of readers. But, the images she creates border on being too far. Her themes, scenes, and situations between characters are problematic and do not seem to add much to the development of individual characters. The conflict and abuse add to the “romance” in which the controversy stems from. 

While many of Hoover’s works are well written and addictive reads, having to deal with the roller coaster of emotions and the potential to get triggered by situations in her books is, in my opinion, not worth anyone’s time.