From Booktok to Bates: It Starts with Us

Fiona Cohen, Managing News Editor

This book review contains spoilers for Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us and other books in the series.

If you have ever managed to stumble onto BookTok, the book side of TikTok, you know exactly who Colleen Hoover is. The New York Times bestselling author published a number of hit books in 2022, including the highly anticipated, It Starts with Us. Her massive following could be described as cult-like. 

It Starts with Us is the second novel in the It Ends with Us series. Both books are centered around the life of Lily Bloom, a successful florist living in Boston. In the first book, Lily meets and marries the handsome and mysterious neurosurgeon, Ryle. However, it doesn’t take long before their relationship becomes physically and emotionally abusive. When Lily gets pregnant with Ryle’s child, she decides to break the cycle of abuse and end her marriage. 

In It Starts with Us, a newly single Lily is tasked with co-parenting with her abusive ex-husband. However, things start to turn around when Atlas, Lily’s high school sweetheart, comes back into the picture. Still, Lily quickly learns that managing a young baby, a jealous ex-husband, and a new boyfriend is not easy. 

It Starts with Us is a lot more “feel-good” than its predecessor. The descriptions of Lily’s strong support network are simply heartwarming. Additionally, the violence of Lily and Ryle’s relationship is a lot less graphic than in It Ends with Us. Readers can be satisfied knowing that Lily gets her happy ending after years of struggle and hard work. 

Still, I do not think that this is Hoover’s best work. The romance plot between Lily and Atlas is a little trite and expected, and Ryle is a perfect caricature of a moody ex. Hoover is usually very good at throwing a plot twist into her novels, but this one lacked that type of excitement. After reading Hoover’s Verity in August, I was expecting a lot more drama from this newest release. 

Does this mean I’m done reading Hoover’s work? Absolutely not. None of these books are going to be the next great American novel, but they certainly are fun and entertaining. Rest assured that I will be the first in line at my local bookstore for Hoover’s next release.