It may end with this

After reading Verity, by Colleen Hoover, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read any of her other books; although there were certain aspects of that book that were enjoyable, parts of it also decidedly put me off a further experience. But, as with that book, so many people in the Facebook group “What should I read next?” lauded It Ends With Us that I decided it deserved a look-in.

It took me three tries to get past the first 30 pages. Ordinarily I would give up after two, but a unique set of circumstances made me go there again: I was reading the third book in the turbulent and engrossing Nevernight series by Jay Kristoff on a night when my insomnia seemed like a last-all-night kind of thing, and my Kindle tragically ran out of juice; the only other book sitting on my night table was It Ends With Us, and it was so cold that night that I didn’t want to get out of bed to rummage around for something else to read! So I picked it back up and pushed through my initial reaction, which was that these characters—Ryle, and Lily Bloom, for godssakes—were so disingenuous, so superficial and coy, so self-consciously meet-cute that I simply couldn’t deal with the cheesiness.

I honestly didn’t become interested in anyone until the flashback part of the book, when Lily harks back to her teenage years by reviewing her journal entries about meeting and getting to know Atlas (the names in this book are truly ridiculous), the homeless boy hiding out in the vacant house behind hers. At that point, a spark of interest was fanned to a modest flame, so I kept going.

The book turned out to be a revelation of sorts; what seemed like it was going to be a somewhat frothy romance took a dark turn into interesting territory, as Lily confronts her past and has to question whether she will allow herself to be doomed to repeat it. I won’t say more than that, but the book shifted all in a moment from something that didn’t interest me much to a compelling story whose ending I really needed to know.

I can’t honestly say whether this will lead me to read any more Colleen Hoover books, though. The makeup of this one was initially so contradictory that the effort involved to get to the “good parts” required a denial of what I usually value in a story. The second half of the book proved to me that this author can deliver something compelling and genuine; but it evolved from such a ridiculously idealistic and unlikely set-up that it almost spoiled the rest. I ended up being mostly glad I read it, but also feeling manipulated and a little resentful. That doesn’t seem to be a recipe for becoming a fan.

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