Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

May 7, 2013 1 - 1.5 Stars, Abuse, Contemporary Romance, Horrible Heroines, New Adult, Stalkers Are Not Sexy, Terrible Twists 19 ★½

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Series: Hopeless # 1
Published by Atria Books on May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 332
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

As with the execrable Ten Tiny Breaths, I read Hopeless after seeing many glowing reviews, and I was left feeling disgusted by the behavior of the main characters.  I can only believe that people who love books featuring stalkers have never been stalked themselves, and that is a wonderful thing.  However, it distresses me whenever stalking and violence are portrayed to girls and women as some kind of manly ideal.  I, unfortunately, was the victim of a stalker (threats to kill me, chasing me down a highway, hitting my car, staking out my parents’ house, and on and on) and so when I unknowingly pick up a book that glorifies this behavior, it makes me sick to my stomach.

Hopeless follows the same basic recipe for this New Adult genre: insta-lust, a cocky guy who is disturbingly possessive, and a girl who feels unworthy of such glorious attention.  Immediately after Sky meets Holder, he slams his fist into the hood of a car.  It only gets better.  Watch Holder as he repeatedly invades Sky’s personal space and puts his hands on her within a day of meeting her.  Watch her love it.  On the second day after meeting Holder, Sky tells him, “You’ve scared the shit out of me at least three times.”  He demands to know if Sky is dating anyone, and when she gives an unsatisfactory answer, he punches a locker.  Then he “takes a challenging step towards” Sky, and stares at her with “hard and cold” eyes.  “He curls his fingers up into a fist and drops his hand to his side.”  We are still on day two, folks.  Next, he admits to beating “someone within an inch of his life” and vows to do it again.  And still, this romantic twosome argues and fights.  According to Sky, “I met the guy a couple of days ago, yet I’ve never argued more with anyone in my entire life.”  Don’t you just love it?

The hits keep coming.  During the next couple of days, Holder goes through Sky’s phone without permission.  When she asks him to leave her house, he refuses, and lays down on her bed instead and grabs her and pins her underneath him.  So he’s a trespasser, too.  Of course, Sky is tickled pink by this behavior.  Then, he roughly grabs her wrist in the middle of the cafeteria and demands to know where she got her bracelet.  Sky is intimidated and doesn’t reply quickly enough, and his expression “grows even colder.  He leans forward a few inches and lowers his voice when he speaks.  ‘Who gave you the damn bracelet, Sky?'”  After slamming his way out of the cafeteria, Holder ignores Sky for a month, with no explanation for his behavior.  Please, someone tell me that this is as reprehensible as I think it is.  How is any of this romantic?  I truly do not understand.  For the record, violent, intimidating behavior is not the sign of a powerful man and his deep love for you.  It is the sign of an insecure little prick who will behave this way with any woman who will tolerate it.

So, do you feel like you’ve got a good idea of the kind of character Holder possesses?  What possible explanation could be offered for this behavior?  We’re not going to get it just yet.  Remember, the last contact between these two lovebirds featured a violent wrist-grabbing and an unexplained brush-off by our hero, Holder.  If he doesn’t sound like enough of a creep yet, he pulls out all of the crazy and sneaks into Sky’s bedroom through her window in the middle of the night and climbs into her bed.  It’s presented as romantic rather than completely insane and frightening.  Our dear Sky views his behavior as “passionate,” and there is so, so much wrong with that.

This jackass always offers a “good” reason for his behavior.  Reasons, it should be noted, that would be scoffed at by anyone but darling Sky.  Sky constantly professes to be scared/annoyed/disgusted with his behavior, but she’s appeased and forgives him when he buys her gifts.  Sheesh.  What a message for girls and young women.  And hey!  The great news is that this book features equal opportunity violence when Sky slaps Holder in the face.  Violence is fun, kids!  Everyone join in, and prove your love and passion with a smack!

We’re rolling along wonderfully with the stalking and violent behavior when suddenly, at the 50% mark, Holder pulls a cheap trick.  BIIIG secrets are revealed.  I want to believe that Hoover had good intentions with a sensitive approach to a difficult topic that affects far too many people.  However, with the sensationalized, manipulative, and over the top way she presents the second half of the book, I’m afraid I must conclude: she did it for shock value; she did it as a cheap, convenient way to excuse away Holder’s horrible behavior; and finally, she does not respect her readers.  As the unbelievable coincidences counted to mount, my eyes practically rolled out of my head.

I have read other books focused on *this* topic, but I never experienced the feelings of heavy-handed manipulation that I felt with Hopeless.  It seems like Hoover attempted to wring every last drop of emotion out of her readers, but the entire thing left me cold.  This is in stark contrast to two other recent books featuring this topic, both of which tore me apart emotionally because the characters felt like real people to me.  I never got lost in Hopeless, in large part because the story felt so phony, and the main characters were awful.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around this New Adult genre.  If Hopeless, Ten Tiny Breaths, and Fifty Shades of Grey are representative of what the genre has to offer, count me out.

Note – I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher for review.


19 Responses to “Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover”

  1. Dana

    Wow, I just read a glowing review of this one and immediately requested it from Netgalley. After reading your review, I hope I am denied. There is not way I can read a book like this. Yikes. Great, honest review.

  2. Hannah

    WOW. I had no idea it was this bad. Like another “Beautiful Disaster”. I don’t get why so many people love a book where the main guy is a total douche. Controlling, manipulating, and violent. Glamorizing these traits to not cool, IMO.

    I’m so sorry that you’ve been personally affected by stalking. 🙁

  3. Lectus Read

    Your review also reminded me of Beautiful Disaster (which I tried reading but abandoned). Apparently, possessive guys are in, nowadays. To be honest, I like my men to be possessive “withing reason.” I once had a “friendly” stalker who just annoyed the hell out me. I am totally sick and tired of books with beautiful girls that think they are unworthy of the guy’s attention. And what the heck of a name is Holder? Definitely not reading it.

  4. Kristen Williams

    I opted out of NA before I even read any because the summaries did nothing for me. Your experiences w/ this genre have confirmed I have made the right choice. This sounds HORRIBLE! I’m sorry you’ve dealt with a stalker personally–that is terrifying not romantic AT ALL.

  5. Robyn Jones

    I don’t go by covers often, but this cover put me off, so I haven’t read this one. I can accept that a person with Holder’s past will be violent and possessive and emotionally immature, but why not give us a heroine who won’t accept that type of behavior? Give us a girl/woman we can look up to and a boy/man we root for (or vice versa). What really stands out for me is that Sky makes her words mean nothing and the author makes that acceptable. Like you I can see my personal history would prevent me from making it through this book.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      And I thought the cover was perfectly harmless! LOL.

      It’s hard to keep our personal experiences from affecting our opinion of a book. Maybe it’s impossible. When I was writing this review, I was trying to keep that in mind, and I was trying to not be unfair. But then I thought of all the things that were so offensive, so I decided it was OK to just let it rip.


  6. malvoliosStockings

    I’ve read rave review after rave review on this book. So i went onto Amazon and had a ‘Look Inside’ to see what I thought. And let me tell you, I was not feeling it. I couldn’t even get past the first page. So I’ve been left wondering if I made a mistake to skip it with all these fantastic reviews out there. Nice to know apparently I haven’t. Wow, I did not realize this book has a psycho jealous stalker in it’s pages. I don’t get the attraction to that either. Such a turn off.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      There were SO many great reviews, and the ones I read made no mention of stalkers. So, I know that I view this book, and Holder, particularly, differently than the fans. That’s very interesting to me. I’d love to understand how people can view this character’s behavior so differently.


  7. Laura T

    I’m actually quite surprised that you didn’t like this book but I can understand why. I really loved it but I appreciate your honest review. Everyone should be able to have their own opinions. I’m also your newest follower! I would really appreciate it if you could come over to my blog to check it out and if you like it, you can follow me as well. I blog about my favourite music and books hence the name Music Plus Books.
    Thank you and good luck,
    Music Plus Books
    – Laura

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Hi, Laura! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s great to hear from a fan of the book! As I mentioned in the comment above, I would love to understand how/why I viewed Holder so differently than fans of the book. But I also love that we all have different tastes, because the world would be very boring otherwise. 🙂


  8. rivie bleu

    I don’t see how that’s romantic either. I mean, this guy is just not good in any way. I understand how the stalking thing, sometimes work in a paranormal way, and somtimes there more to it. But this guy just being human (I believe there’s no paranormal here) just makes it more real and once it becomes reality, it sounds awful for the girl. I’m sorry you had to go through that and that this made it seem like it’s a good thing. I don’t know how Hoover managed to explain his behavior and get them to end up together in the end. Because they do end up together, don’t they? It feels like that’s where this leads.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      You’re right, Rivie. There’s no paranormal. Maybe that would have made it more tolerable!

      I don’t think it’s a spoiler to answer your question: yes, they do end up together. There ARE some spoiler elements I didn’t mention that make Holder’s behavior even more creepy.

      I KNOW this is *just* a book, but I wish I everyone (especially young girls) would understand that obsession is NOT love. To be a target of that is not romantic; it’s frightening. I also came to realize that people who have that tendency likely won’t do that to just one person. I think they know how to target people (it’s not just men, of course; women do it, too) who are vulnerable or insecure (which I certainly was.)


  9. Johanna

    Hello! It’s really interesting to read your take on the book. I have to admit that I adored it, read through the whole night and cried most of the time.
    I never viewed Holder in the way you described him, but with the help of the quotes you provided I see why you did. I guess different readers just look at characters from a different angle and might not consider his actions as stalking or offensive. If you also think of the ending, his behavior does make some sense… at least I hope it does. 😉

    Johanna @ Challenging Reads

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