Booktok got me … and I have a lot to say now.
At this point, if you are not familiar with Colleen Hoover, you either have a Renaissance taste in literature, or you are just social-media-deprived.
But no worries, that’s what I’m here for.
Colleen Hoover is an American author who I used to suggest to people new to the world of reading, preferably to someone who wants something fun (wait till I get to the review) and light-hearted.
Like every other book of Colleen Hoover, I do not have an opinion on the book or expect anything out of it, but TikTok did its job for me. I got all the spoilers against my will.
On the bright side, the series is a bit predictable – so there isn’t really any spoiler if you think about it (If you think about it, you’d guess the whole story). But there’s a twist: there are some turns that will surpass common sense, so it isn’t really that predictable.
A Bit About It Ends with Us Series by Colleen Hoover
The series has only two books –
- It ends with us
- It starts with us
I see the wordplay you did there, Miss Hoover.
Well, you might think this is chronologically incorrect, but this is how CoHo decided to publish the series. Yes, you start with the end one.
The story revolves around two romantically involved people named Lily and Ryle, if I exclude the star of the show, Atlas. Before I decode the story and the character development in bits, I’m just gonna give you a piece of my mind in the next part.
I just finished reading the infamous ‘It Ends with Us’
If I didn’t like the buttery-smooth lingo there, my review would live up to the book’s name – it would end with this book.
We all know Colleen Hoover; she writes those books – those that you can finish in one sitting.
Not because the story is so engaging, her stories are predictable at most, but because they are so comfortable to read and engaging weirdly. In a nutshell – I devoured the book in almost 8 hours, and I bet you’ll need less time than that.
Before you start mustering up the courage to read it, do not have any expectations from this one. From what I have seen in the analysis of the other readers, most people who had zero expectations from it enjoyed ‘It Ends with Us Book Series’ the most.
So, here goes my first suggestion – go in with a blindfold and zero expectations.
And I’m going to unravel my leashed emotions now … the blurb did not prepare me for whatever was going to happen.
I thought the blurb was hinting at some tragic romantic relationships (which was pretty standard at this point). Still, yeah, CoHo stuck to the tragic part only in a way that’s going to haunt me for at least two more days.
Miss Writer didn’t disappoint here this time – except I agree with her decisions on this, unlike her other books. That’s why I kept repeating that it was predictable in an unpredictable way.
The whole time, you are the third person who’s watching Lily get treated like trash. Then, you’ll watch her romanticizing domestic violence.
Yep, I puked too.
Just like her other books’ characters, Ryle had a past to act like a douchebag too. But this time, ‘Oh sorry, I didn’t know you didn’t have trauma, you can continue being mean to me now’ didn’t go for too long, thank God.
This time, the protagonist had a decent character development to recognize abusive patterns and had the guts to do the right thing.
That didn’t come easy. I was in awe of how she could intricate small details into the latter parts of the story. All of these had an innocent touch of first love – something that I didn’t think Colleen Hoover could pull off.
It Ends with Us Summary – In a Nutshell
Buckle up your seatbelts; it’s gonna be an emotional rollercoaster.
The story starts starring our female protagonist, Lily Bloom, relaxing on the rooftop of a building after her abusive father’s funeral. Now, who relaxes after burying their own biological father?
The daddy issues kind. Basically, Lily reveals that her father was abusive towards her mother, and that left her with no good memories to deliver as a eulogy or as a tribute to her late father. And that’s something you have to remember because the writer gets back to this part.
Remember tragic and romantic? Yeah.
The twist is – Lily wasn’t there alone – here comes our first male lead, Ryle Kincaid, who’s a surgeon by profession.
Ryle notices Lily a bit later after he is done, showing the readers that he has ‘the male rage’ aesthetic because he breaks and smashes stuff when he’s sad, unlike Lily, a female. The story typically goes where Lily and Ryle talk for a bit, except it is more of an aggressive flirting.
That somehow made Lily think, ‘Oh damn, this smokin’ handsome hunk flirts with the first girl he sees, so he must be my perfect husband material.’ They both thought that they were never going to meet again, so they let them say whatever they wanted and move on with their life the following day.
But the world is small and, ideally, a sphere.
Lily launches her floral business venture, where she hires her first employee, who also happens to be Ryle’s older sister. The story progresses as Ryle and Lily meet again and happen to form a not-so-committed-but-together relationship. But there’s a twist again.
Here comes the entry of the second male lead – Atlas Corrigan.
Atlas has a sweet character and financial development throughout the storyline (you guessed it right; he actually is my favorite one).
Atlas was a homeless guy across Lily’s house when she was young. Lily, being the typical kind protagonist she is, helped, fed, and let the boy rest in her home for some days without her parent’s knowledge.
The thing is, they are both young and had to surrender someday until Lily’s dad found the boy in his daughter’s bed. They did develop a romantic relationship in between, but the love was portrayed as an innocent young love – something that Miss Writer rarely does and something that I always find refreshing.
Fast forward to the present time, Atlas is back in her life. Meanwhile, Ryan starts to unravel his concealed side of anger issues, starting from an incident where he pushes Lily so aggressively that she gets injured badly.
Ryle kept abusing Lily later on, using his trauma and anger as excuses (Classic Colleen Hoover). Atlas comes to know about some of the abuses, seeing Lily’s injuries and Ryle’s hands and immediately fights with Atlas for hurting Lily.
Things go downward, as you would expect, and Lily makes Atlas say sorry and end every negative interaction between them. Later on, we came to know about the abusive past of Ryle, where CoHo successfully tried to convince the audience that it was the trauma that made him do all the abusive actions.
The reasoning was too dark, honestly. Almost convinced me that he probably was just traumatized from the core. This explains why he gets so anxious and turns into a beast in split seconds, although that does not justify the abuse.
As of now, Ryle still doubts Lily and Atlas’s relationship and has sudden outbursts of rage – resulting in hurting Lily. Plots don’t end there – Lily is now pregnant, months later after she got married to Ryle. I know, why would you, Lily? Anyway.
Ryle is happy, and so is Lily. But remember how her father was always abusive towards her mother? Whatever Lily didn’t know, abusive patterns were not one of them. She feels as though she is living an abusive childhood again with fresh wounds.
Despite all that, they decided to keep the baby and raise it together. Ryle named the baby after his dead brother, which is a bit problematic if you ask me. But we are no one here when the mother herself didn’t have a say in this.
All these left Lily to make the most significant decision of her life – to stay with Ryle or not— and she made the perfect decision of choosing her and her daughter’s safe future. That is, we are now witnessing the divorce of the beloved couple, Lily and Ryle.
End of an era. Except this time, we have an incoming plot to rely on.
11 months later, Atlas enters the scene, and we see Lily and her daughter with him, interacting. Did CoHo just try an open ending?
Maybe she did. She did impress everyone with this piece of her work, where she didn’t romanticize domestic violence but rather showed how dangerous trauma bonding can be. As for the open ending, I’m leaving that to your imagination.
Decoding the elements of Hooverse in ‘It Ends with Us’
Okay, I might not be the biggest Colleen Hoover fan. Still, some of her characters were impressive enough to get their own paragraph. I’ll be giving them exactly that – the part and appreciation that they deserve.
I’m gonna make this short, so let’s start with our favorite girl, the heart of the story – Lily.
I liked Lily at the beginning when she was alone on the rooftop. Suppose you are someone from an abusive or negatively chaotic household.
In that case, you can understand the part where she feels guilty for getting sad over her abusive father, someone who hurt Lily’s mom without any guilt.
This is where you all were sympathizing with her.
Throughout the story, my emotions are on a rollercoaster for this lady; she keeps making wrong decisions when the right option is in front of her. Wish I could dive into the book and force Lily to do what she should have done months ago – that’s how I felt throughout the entire book.
The moment I finished it, it hit me – trauma bonding can force you to live in a delusional, happy relationship. That’s what happened with Lily. That’s what made her character development so beautiful.
Now let’s talk about the bad boy (literally), Ryle, who had a very CEO-like character in the beginning, slowly unraveling his aggressive side. I gotta say something on this: every fan fiction that has a rich, CEO-like male lead usually has a very traumatic childhood experience.
The case is no different this time. His trauma actually makes sense in how he responds to specific situations, but that definitely does not justify his abusive attitude.
While I was reading the abusive parts, I was praying that it gets better and Ryle begs for forgiveness and eventually gets better.
Um, the opposite happened. It only gets worse. Bleh character.
Onto my favorite character of all time – Atlas! Can you imagine being homeless, turning into one of the most prominent chefs, owning several restaurants, and then finally becoming so confident to propose to your young love? Yep, that’s Atlas Corrigan for you!
He was very traumatized when he first came onto the scene. His character development is one of the most essential factors in the storyline. As they say, All’s Well That Ends Well.
I gotta talk separately about our girl’s girl, Ryle’s only sister, Allysa. She was so lovely from the beginning and utterly opposite to what her brother is. Loved the part where she had to choose between her brother and her best friend, and she made the right decision no matter how much it hurt her.
Lily’s mother was one vital element of the storyline, too. Loved how the mother-daughter relationship bloomed into a meaningful one when Lily finally understood what her mom had been going through. That was a good closure.
‘It Starts with Us’ – Does it really?
The last book kinda left me on a cliffhanger when Lily runs into Atlas after 11 months, saying she’ll text him later.
This book is about the after-effects of Lily actually texting him. Because this time, even after all those abusive episodes, girlie is still concerned about Ryle’s feelings if she contacts Atlas. Nevertheless, Atlas texted her first anyway.
This is the second book of ‘It Ends with Us,’ and CoHo decided to name it ‘It Starts with Us.’ It’s a weird way to confuse us, but okay. In fact, I’ve just published a character analysis and plot summary of this book. Check this out by following the link.
Okay, on to the current point; If you ask me, I think this book is almost about Atlas finding his own journey along the way. Not that he was a boring character (He had the most exciting character development throughout the book), but Miss Writer needed to add layers of depth to differentiate him from Ryle.
If you thought you didn’t like Ryle in the first book, this book will exceed your expectations here – you’ll hate him now. Ms. Hoover did him so bad … but finally gifted our Stargirl, Lily, some wisdom and courage to deal with that toxic relationship and finally free herself from trauma bonding, doing what she should’ve done years ago.
It Starts with Us – In a nutshell
If you are expecting way too much drama, I’m sorry to disappoint you. You left this drama thing in the first book. In this book, we only had twists and turns in Lily’s love life while discovering some past traumas related to that.
Although the plot was somewhat predictable, I did enjoy the ride. This time, we already know what’s gonna happen. So please, keep your expectations as low as possible. Or not.
So, how does the first bookend with Lily give hope to Atlas that she might text him? Yep, she doesn’t do that because her co-parenting partner, Ryle, will supposedly get upset if he hears about it.
I do not know why she even cares about that boy at this moment. But let’s forgive it since it’s a Colleen Hoover creation.
Atlas texted her after a long period, to which she replied, and now they have an ongoing ‘chatship’ going on. Atlas now has a new restaurant, which unraveled a lot of new facts about Atlas’s life.
Do you remember how Atlas was homeless and how he was basically rescued from his uncle’s home in Boston? Turns out, he actually had a mother all along and a 12-year-old brother.
The brother’s story is funny. A random kid used to break into his new store and steal food, and Atlas didn’t take any action because he had gone through this.
Meanwhile, his mom called to say that his brother was missing, and Atlas reacted unpredictably because there was no brother in the first place to begin with. All these dramas aside, when he investigated who was stealing his stuff, it turns out he had a brother, and that guy is his brother.
Things escalated quickly, and now he has a brother to provide for and to take care of. He now has a family to call. On Lily’s side, Lily and Atlas take a hit and go on unofficial romantic dates, and these keep going on.
One day, after an okay date night, Atlas woke up in Lily’s bed, and our lousy boy Ryle had to scene-bomb the very situation.
Lily opened the door, half-naked because of the prior night’s situation, expecting someone from service. Still, it was Ryle, and God was furious.
About Ryle, he has been a good boy and very caring towards Lily and their daughter because somewhere in his mind, he was convinced that if he acted well enough, Lily would take him back. But that day, his bad boy image ended severely when he, again, almost abused Lily.
Someone who wasn’t romantically involved with her anymore. He then surprisingly leaves.
Ryle tries to mend everything aggressively later on to the point where he threatens to take full custody of their daughter, but in vain, of course.
Fast forward to Emmy’s first birthday party, she lets Ryle know that if he is further abusive to her or if she feels unsafe, she’s gonna let her lawyer know that.
At Atlas’s end, his mother wants to keep contact with his brother Josh, to which Atlas reacts harshly at first. But then quickly understood that this was his chance to make his house a home again.
So, he decides to let his mom keep contact with his brother and have a mandatory dinner every week, Tuesday, 7 pm. Ryle could never.
Back to Lily again, she makes the decision to sit down with family members of Ryle, basically his sister and sister’s husband and make everyone understand that Ryle has been abusive towards her.
Honestly, he should take some anger management courses. Otherwise, she would be bound to take legal action. Allysa supported her the most, even though that’s her brother. Queen.
In between all these events, Atlas and Lily’s love story is back on track. Lily moved in with Atlas, and now we have four people under the same roof as a family.
They get married a few months later. Happy ending!
What’s Different in the It Ends With Us Sequel?
You know, ‘It Starts with Us’ has the same characters as her previous book, and the only added character was Atlas’s mother and his brother. But you gotta talk about the character development, though.
I’m sorry. Excuse my excitement; I have to talk about Ryle before anything else. I love, love how his character changed from ‘Oh maybe, we like a bad boy’ to ‘Oh, he’s really bad-bad to ‘Maybe he’s reflecting on his trauma’ to ‘He’s kinda abusive’ to ‘He needs to be jailed RIGHT NOW.’
I am vouching for the last one. I didn’t like him anyway. Glad he was out of the scene at last.
Our dear Lily, I loved her character development. I loved how she overcame trauma bonding and chose the best option for herself despite all the shortcomings and dangers.
I mean, it takes a lot to confess to the love of your life that they, in fact, have abused you, and then moving on seems a lot. Our Stargirl showed us how good of a woman, friend, lover, and mother she can be. Loved how she turned out at the end.
Atlas, like always, has been stealing hearts since the beginning. Not because he was good at stealing (No homeless person was harmed in this petty joke) but because of how different he was from Ryle. I’d say if the green flag were a person, it’d be him.
Could you imagine taking care of and accepting a brother you never heard of for so many years and agreeing to provide for a lifetime for a parent who never cared for you? And that’s Atlas Corrigan for you.
Do I Recommend This Series to You?
Actually, yes. (I’m as surprised as you are)
I’ll tell you why and when. For example, you want to take a break from your busy life and want something very lightweight and out of touch with reality. That’s when you want to grab this book, indulge yourself in emotions, laugh, cry out loud, and forget about it the next day.
But if you are looking for meaningful love stories that might somehow provide you with romantic wisdom, this is not the place, my friend. This is the exact opposite of what you are looking for. So do your research, or just join in for a good laugh.