Ever since “BookTok” became a thing, during the pandemic in 2020, Colleen Hoover’s books have been standing in the foreground. You may ask yourself, what is BookTok? (what is booktok?) BookTok is a TikTok subculture in which users use short video clips to share and discuss book recommendations, reviews, and literary content. The center of attention being Colleen Hoover's novel ‘It Ends with Us’. This book was published in 2016 but reached, because of BookTok, its biggest audience in 2020. Colleen Hoover is obviously one of the most popular romance authors at present, but I don’t think you should read it. And I’ll show you why. 

It Ends With Us

This novel tells the story of Lily Blossom Bloom (ironically, she owns a flower shop) and her romance with Ryle Kincaid. Lily Bloom has a history of growing up in an abusive home and falls into an abusive relationship herself. Personally, I agree that this is Colleen Hoover’s best book since the main character gets out of the abusive relationship (the only good thing out of this book). It Ends With Us deals with serious topics of domestic abuse and toxic relationships from Hoover’s own experience. Since it’s from a personal experience, I don’t want to comment too much on the story. And I think it is good when authors bring awareness to sensitive topics, but it feels like Colleen Hoover is only using it for entertainment purposes.

For example, in January 2023, Colleen Hoover announced an ‘It Ends With Us coloring book’ but this announcement had disappeared after 24 hours when readers called her out for being tone-deaf. Colleen wanted to produce a coloring book on an abusive relationship… I’ll let you think about that one. 


Another one of Hoover’s most popular books is Verity. Whereas she normally only writes romance novels, Verity is a thriller. I sure was thrilled, but probably not in the way it was intended. In Verity you follow Lowen, a struggling writer, who gets the opportunity to finish the manuscript of the injured Verity Crawford. To do this, Lowen moves into the house of Verity and her husband (which is a very normal thing to do apparently). This book’s storyline is rather more disturbing than thrilling. Whereas this book is supposed to be a spicy romance thriller, it feels more like cheap erotica book. None of the characters are likable and the books romanticizes cheating and lying, and the plot twist in the end is ridiculous. All-in-all it feels like lazy writing.

Ugly Love

The final book I want to touch on is Ugly Love. When Tate meets airline pilot Miles, she knows it isn’t love at first sight but there is an attraction between the two of them. Tate’s story is told from her present point of view where she starts a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship with Miles. Miles’s story is told from his point of view, six years in the past. It worries me that some people call this book their favorite book.

This is one of the most problematic “love” stories I’ve ever stumbled upon. Other than Tate and Miles' toxic relationship, there is also Miles’ backstory. Which includes him having a baby with his stepsister (incest, yay!). Overall, it is definitely an ugly love story and if you were still questioning me, here is a snippet of some of Colleen’s best writing!

Colleen Hoover Books

Books don’t always have to be really intellectual or necessarily well-written to be enjoyable. It is perfectly fine to read something just for the romance and the escapism. However, Colleen Hoover books are not the ones you should pick for this. She romanticizes abusive relationships in her problematic love stories and sets harmful standards for her young audience. And she combines this with bad writing. 

Booktok Recommendations

If you are interested in reading a cute romance novel that isn’t problematic, I would recommend Lynn Painter’s ‘Better than the Movies’ or Benjamin Alire Sàenz’ ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’. If you are interested in something spicier, you could read Icebreaker by Hannah Grace or Casey McQueston’s ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’.