The beginning of the end – Lily and Atlas.
Yeah, Atlas. You read it right. Atlas is back.
Those of you who have already gone through the ‘It ends with us’ apocalypse, you know the drill. Those who haven’t, I got you, girl. Skip to the recap to know about it. Those of you who don’t know who Colleen Hoover is … welcome to this heavily opinionated article.
If you have been on the internet or TikTok for at least two years or so, there’s no way you don’t know what ‘It Ends with Us’ is. Okay, Ugly love? November 9? No? You must have good taste then.
When I’m not joking, I’d like to refer to her as a comfort writer, almost associating her with regular comfort characters that we enjoy when we don’t want to use our brains too much.
She’s someone you’d reach to read an easy-breezy romantic novel that’s not too much. I wouldn’t call the prequel ‘It Ends with Us’ a romantic novel.
Rather, it should be categorized as an awakening novel – where we go through the victim’s mind. At the same time, she falls in love and understands how the emotions work.
Apart from all the bashing it received, that book depicts exactly what trauma bonding is, finally putting an end to intelligent questions like why doesn’t she leave him if he’s so bad? Because honey, that’s not so simple, now you know why.
‘It Starts with Us’ will mostly act as a fan service book, as hinted at by Colleen Hoover herself. People went crazy over the last book and pleaded for a happy ending for Lily and Atlas – Thus the book’s birth. This feels more like character-driven stories than plot-driven stories.
I just have so much to tell you.
Before Reviewing It Starts with Us Let’s Revisit the Previous Book
This will be a short recap, don’t worry.
So, we have Ryle and Lily as lustful lovers after a few exciting events. Can you call them lovers, though? They are just infatuated beings without hormonal control. I actually have no idea what to call them at this point of the story, so let’s settle with ‘situationship’.
Fast forward to so many love scenes, meeting/hiring Ryle’s sister, and opening a flower shop. Their situationship gets more intense, and they get married, but here’s the twist – her old lover is back in the town and in her life – Atlas Corrigan.
The story is pretty simple. After that, Ryle gets abusive in love, and Lily tries to cut him off but is soon informed that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, she has some moments with Atlas reassuring her and standing up for her against the abuse.
As the abuse continues and triggers Lily’s childhood trauma, she decides she cannot give the same trauma to her child, so she decides to finally break it off and co-parent with Ryle. And 11 months later, we see the scene where Lily and her daughter interact with Atlas.
The end. Classic cliffhanger.
Now, that was a marathon summary of what actually happened. If you want to know what I think of it in detail, I’ve already got It Ends with Us Summary for You to Enjoy.
Also, who writes letters to Ellen DeGeneres? Eww.
First Impressions on It Begins with Us: Wholesome!
The book is relatively new. It was released on October 18, 2022.
I don’t know if you noticed, but this is not my first time spreading my thoughts on this author and her books. As much as I was repulsed initially, I think it’s starting to grow on me.
Before you bash me, I found new points from different perspectives. I mean, I’m at an age where my frontal lobe is not fully developed yet, so I’m bound to change my opinions occasionally.
This time, I’m adding new ways to observe this book that I thought was worth another write-up. And don’t worry, I’m not gonna say absurd adjectives. I actually found this book quite wholesome. Crazy, right? Right.
It Starts with Us Summary (Spoilers): Drama Personified!
If you haven’t read this book, you are not missing much as a book reader. But if you read for drama… girl, buckle up your seatbelts. I’m gonna give you the synopsis of It Starts With Us book.
The last scene had us in a chokehold with Lily bidding bye to Atlas. However, she hinted that she might text him later on. We already know the girl is head over heels for this guy, but we also have another bad boy here – Ryle. Yes, we are not done with him yet.
Although Lily would love to go out with Atlas and reminisce about her first love, in reality, she’s stuck with her daughter and her abusive baby daddy.
It might look easy for us to take random steps. Still, when you are mentally exhausted on a particular topic in your life, you wouldn’t wanna open that chapter again, even with a better beginning than before. Naturally, she doesn’t text him after that meet and greet.
But Atlas is free to text, right? He does not have any tagalongs. Guess what? She does text, and there goes another relationship between Lily and Atlas. The book had many of Atlas’s POVs, so you learn a lot from Atlas’s past, which was not revealed in the previous book.
If you remember from the previous book, Atlas was homeless, and Lily helped him with her stuff; that’s how their friendship grew. Later on, Atlas’s uncle rescues him and takes him to Boston, where he lives a comfortable life away from Lily. They both live their lives without any guilt.
But it turns out that Atlas had yet to explore a lot about his own life – especially the part where he has a mother walking fine and fresh on the ground and a 12-year-old brother. Poor Atlas thought he was an orphan all along, but it turns out he was just abandoned. That’s way worse.
Even though he was shocked and horrified to his very core, he seized this opportunity to finally reunite with his family and have the home he had never had. He got a call from his mum that his brother was missing.
Now that’s a funny story. Since Atlas is a famous chef, he has this restaurant, and this particular homeless kid keeps barging in and stealing food.
Atlas didn’t take any legal steps because he knows what homelessness feels like. However, he still investigated this homeless kid’s matter, and it turns out – this kid’s that missing brother.
Well done, Colleen Hoover. It’s such an Arthur Conan Doyle move.
Atlas’s mother wanted to keep contact with her sons, to which Atlas reacted so much that he sacrificed his own family. But then he understood what it felt like growing up without a mother.
He wouldn’t want his brother to go through the same thing. Finally, I seized the opportunity to find the perfect place to call home: a mandatory weekly dinner, Tuesday, 7 pm.
At Lily’s end, she and Atlas keep going on unofficial romantic dates. Everything is going alright until one fine night, Atlas finds himself in Lily’s bed, and Ryle enters the room at that perfect time.
Except he got the scenario where Lily answered the door half-naked and turned pale when she saw his face; that explained enough for him to understand what was happening.
Ryle, who has been trying to control his abuse for a very long time for the sake of wooing Lily back into his life, finally broke the streak and almost went in to hit her. Thank God something in him immediately knocked the sense out of him, and he ran from there. I pitied him in this part.
But then again, he proves that he was not worth pitying for.
He could’ve left it all there, but we are talking about Ryle Kincaid, the low-budget Chuck Bass. He needs to finish his business aggressively. But at least our girl finally dared to threaten him legally if this behavior was repeated–that’s a big step for her.
Lily finally sits down with Allysa, Marshall, and Ryle to put an end to his abusive behavior and advises Ryle to take anger management courses unless he wants her to take legal measures to protect her and her daughter.
Fast forward to the lovey-dovey couple, Atlas and Lily, moving in together with her daughter and Atlas’s brother. They now are a sweet little family of four.
And guess what? You guys get what y’all have been begging for. YES, they got married at the end! Sorry for the tiny bit of “It Starts with Us Spoiler” for newbies.
Ah, what a wholesome read.
My Hot Take on the Book: Things I Liked and Didn’t Like
Okay, I’ll tell you why. The plot feels like still water. It’s a comforting story.
After what happened in the previous book, the story blew off on the internet. I have another theory on why such happened – it’s because some of the Gen Zs were not raised in the Wattpad era of our lives.
In short, they missed their Wattpad stage growing up and are now easily surprised/influenced by a fraction of the stories we read in Wattpad from 2010 to 2015.
I’m sorry, but that’s the truth, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
I was surprised that this book is going viral. In contrast, I can recall at least five other books from Wattpad or Webtoon with similar stories. What bothered me was that ‘It Ends with Us’ was called a ‘Romance novel’ when it was clearly a book about trauma bonding and abuse.
But I get it. We were reading from Lily’s point of view, so that actually explains everything.
The ending is where the fans drew the lines. I don’t think a single person out there didn’t want Atlas and Lily to be together, and that’s what they got in this book.
Colleen Hoover confirmed that this book is all about what the fans wanted. She didn’t even want to release a sequel to this. Now that explains the easy writing.
As I already told you, this is my no-brainer pick for cozy days, for days I need to chill and cuddle. I picked this book on a random winter evening and I swore by the experience.
This book has no thrill, suspense, or room to guess, and just a plain romantic experience. Oh yes, this one is actually romantic and wholesome, not romanticizing abuse. We finally get Atlas’s honest POVs, so this one differs significantly from the previous one.
I think the It Starts with Us summary covers half of it. If I had to leave my two cents here, I don’t really like how the characters felt too artificial.
The previous book did a great job at manipulating everyone, making it to the romance genre, only because Ryle’s character was not black and white.
I could hate what he did, but you knew this was not him, and he needed help. I could say that’s top-notch manipulative and gaslighting behavior. Still, apart from that, I could sympathize with Ryle and defend him, even if that was for a second.
But this one turned the emotions in a completely different direction. The whole story portrayed Ryle as an actual abuser. There is literally no sympathy left for him, and I wonder why they aren’t pressing charges yet.
Oh, that’s because she fears he would abuse him more. He doesn’t feel guilty at this point, and it’s just sad to see how your favorite characters change so much in the next book. I think people abhor him at this point. It’s just like he just turned into a monster overnight.
The plot was way too easy again. You can predict what’s gonna happen, and that’s gonna happen in a few pages. This is so predictable that this book is not plot-driven anymore.
It’s just the moments between the lovers that progress the story, but I think that’s the point of this book. Atlas is cheeky and adorable, and this is the main reason why this book might feel cheesy.
But I told you it’s a no-brainer; don’t expect much.
This one thing needs attention, and I didn’t see Tiktok girlies talking about it much – Allysa, Ryle’s sister. Look, I get it. He’s her brother, and her brother is also an abuser of her best friend. I cannot wrap my head around how she has such a yeah, I support you, but I can’t really ditch him.
He’s my brother. That’s not a girl’s girl move, and an abuser should be shamed. I hated the scene where Lily had to verbally confront her, and his sister didn’t do much. So sad.
The ending was heartwarming. Colleen Hoover book series gave us what we wanted, which was a nice way to end the book. It is the kind of ending where you close the book you’ve been reading for six hours, smile, and sigh… to dive into the best sleep of your life.
It Starts with Us Characters Analysis: Hooverse Explained!
C’mon, did you really think I was gonna go without a personal nosey opinion on each worthy character?
Let’s Start with Lily
Lily was the same as before; she had no remarkable character development, and you’d just feel pity for her the whole time.
She made some stupid decisions and continues to do so. I mean, why do you hang out with friends who choose to have a relationship with your abuser? Learn better.
I’m glad she didn’t wait for Prince Charming to rescue her and escape that situation alone.
Ryle. Oh, Ryle
It’s the black-and-white character for me. I hated how he was portrayed as an actual bad person rather than someone who had mental issues and was trying to get better for love.
He was blatantly rude and unbearable in this one. I hated Ryle but also loved him – that was the situation before. It taught us how complicated and layered emotions can be – but now he’s just another horrible person.
Onto the Fan Favorite – Atlas
I’m gonna spill the beans – Atlas was a boring character. He’s too perfect, he always does what’s right, he always makes the right decisions, and he is always calm.
He is the perfect book boyfriend ever written for teenagers aged 15 – 19 (Yep, the last part was important; we can’t betray Mr. Darcy). He’s so out of touch from basic human error that he doesn’t feel alright.
C’mon, make a mistake, be vulnerable, be at your highest rage, and let me see how you handle yourself in those.
Did I Have Fun Reading It Starts with Us?
I absolutely did, and I recommend it. I’d pick it up again when the day gets gloomier, and I need written delusions as confirmations.
If you love authors like those of the Wattpad, you’ll love this one. The language is easy, and it will take six hours maximum for you to finish.
Grab a cup of hot cocoa, light up the scented candle, and enjoy your winter evening and the doable banter of Lily-Atlas.