‘It Starts With Us’ stops readers in their tracks

Colleen Hoover, a romance author whose work recently went viral on the social media app TikTok, released the sequel to “It Ends With Us.” Although the first book was published in 2016, the piece did not reach full popularity until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Hoover promoted the sequel “It Starts With Us” so heavily that the release did not live up to the fantasy.

As someone who is an avid reader, “It Ends With Us” was definitely on my list of books to devour during the pandemic. When Hoover announced that she would be releasing a sequel, the world responded quite positively. I waited with bated breath for the book to be released on Oct. 18. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I began reading immediately.

The book starts where the first left off — the main character Lily Bloom is adjusting to her new life with her young child and co-parenting with her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid. On her way to drop off her daughter Emerson at Ryle’s home, she has a run-in with her old fling, Atlas Corrigan. Atlas and Lily have been friends since they were teenagers. Lily helped him tremendously when he was homeless and struggling to live on his own.

Throughout the book, Atlas helps Lily rebuild her confidence and cope with Ryle’s constant pining. Atlas also faces major character development in the book, which helps further develop the concept of a “good guy” that Hoover pushed in this series.

Although Ryle shows traits of a good father throughout the book, there is no doubt that he is an abuser. Using his manipulation tactics, he tries to coerce Lily back into an abusive relationship with him.

The basis of this book may seem quite interesting, but I feel that “It Ends With Us” was a much stronger book than “It Starts With Us.” The first story had me hanging onto every word and awaiting what the next chapter had in store. The sequel felt quite slow and uneventful compared to Hoover’s usual writing.

“It Ends With Us” and another one of Hoover’s pieces, “Verity,” are both very mature books. Her style is heavy with symbolism and deeper meanings.

If you’re wondering if you should read “It Starts With Us,” I would recommend one of Hoover’s other books. The book feels like it is lacking a fundamental part of the plot that was introduced in “It Ends With Us.” Not to mention how the ending does not fit the overall theme of the book and leaves the reader wanting more. Out of all the Colleen Hoover books I have read, this is definitely one of my least favorites. “It Starts With Us” does not negatively affect my view of her as an author, but it is at the bottom of my Colleen Hoover list.

3/5 stars



Photo courtesy of RT Book Reviews, Flickr.