Colleen Hoover has taken the world by storm! Her books are always on the New York Times Best Seller list and in the last few years she has surpassed in interest trending around the world classics of the genre like Nicholas Sparks or Nora Roberts:
But why though?
This is an open discussion. I don’t have all the answers and I am definitely biased – I am actually one of the people obsessed with Colleen Hoover’s books. This is me trying to explain why and what these books do for me.
Firstly, I need to say that ultimately people choosing a romantic book want the happy end. But they want to work for it. The happy end is more emotional if the characters suffer. The more they suffer, the better. Majority of romantic contemporary the suffering is minimal. Problems are not real. What I see that she does differently is that she deals with actual real problems – infertility, domestic abuse, drug addiction. She chose to put them in a romance format, but the trauma is very well researched.
Ever since Lisbeth Salander(The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the feminine best seller is darker – thus books like “Verity” or “It Ends With Us”, “All Your Perfects”, “Hopeless” or “Heart Bones” fill a cultural thirst for something like that. There is even a name to this new sub genre – “the domestic noir”.
These are books in which readers can identify with the main characters, yet find themselves taken out of their day-to-day experiences. Marriage is the ultimate setting to explore – a culmination of a journey of love, a partnership. It is more complex than the just “fall in love”-“live happily ever after” story. The stakes are higher. And we can actually see her success followed the exploration of such deeper topics. Her first books are not remarkable. Those who have read them can attest to her evolution as a writer. Her latest books simply cannot be put down.
What she does right is dive deep into dark subjects. Really explores them. She doesn’t try to squeeze in many topics at once. She focuses for at least a third of the book on exploring one idea. Let’s take the example of “All Your Perfects” where she explores infertility. Here she goes out of her way to show how deep this affects even perfect couples, even couples perfectly in love together, how it affects women different than men, how it destroys a couple’s sex life. This is viewed from both the woman and the man’s point of view. It is indeed a trauma for the couple, not just the woman, even though the reaction to it is lived differently by the two. This book is moving, extremely emotional. The portrayal of thoughts and inner guilt is real and, more importantly, relatable.
Another good example is “It Ends With Us“. Colleen Hoover actually explained this is based on a real story, which makes everything even more authentic. Here, she dives deep into domestic abuse – how it all starts slow, how the victim behaves, why she protects the abuser, what she suffers, how she copes, the lies she tells herself and her family and friends, and how this affects children. The entire book is devoted to understanding this trauma and, as importantly, the cult of silence around it.
Yes, you have sex scenes and love triangles. You actually fall in love with the abuser. I, as a reader, did. I found him just perfect and captivating, just like his victim did. It felt hard to believe it wasn’t all just a big misunderstanding. He was so charming after all…and a doctor, no less! And that is another part of the beauty and attraction to her novels – the morally grey characters. They are all relatable. There are no bad people. They can love and hurt someone at the same time, with the best of intentions. They can hide their own traumas and have no control over their behaviour. She puts us through a whirlwind of events that unfolds and we cannot help but be immersed in her book and love her characters.
In “Hopeless” the scenario is less likely. But what draws someone in is, again, the intimacy. We witness two young people fall in love, have interesting conversations and even more interesting silences. The idea a good neighbour can be a horrible parent is terrible. Yet, we are, sadly, very familiar with it as well.
So…after “50 Shades of Gray”, one might wonder ..is the success due to the steamy sex scenes? They are vivid. They are captivating. They are dreamy. They are NOT the reason her books sell. There are a whole lot of books with steamy sex scenes. Ultimately they don’t matter much. What matters is human closeness. Ultimately human closeness was the reason “50 Shades” sold as well, even though it really doesn’t seem like it. Colleen Hoover understands how to create human closeness. She understands how to create connection, emotion, intimate conversations, as well as lust.
“Heart bones” starts drawing us in with the title. Getting to know Beyah’s hard life with a drug-addict parent makes us instantly hope for a happy end. The idea she has had absolutely no one in her life to get close to is heartbreaking. And when a stranger warms her way into her heart gives us instant chills and good vibes because we recognise an evolution in her, in her ability to open up, in her ability to heal. And, yet again, intimate conversations are perfectly created here as well.
All her books vary the dark subject she deals with and her fans appreciate the different styles and approaches to difficult, often hushed subjects. So when she went all out of her comfort zone with something more of a thriller than a romance, her fans followed. With “Verity” she proved an amazing ability to create suspense and, even more important, controversy. The world became “team letter” or “team manuscript” and they all had valid opinions on the subject matter. This ability to create a buzz is, in the world of social media, evidently, a great plus. It is the kind of book that, because of its strong emotional triggers doesn’t leave you indifferent. You either hate it or love it. But that is beside the point, because more than anything, you really want is to talk about it, talk about Verity, hate Verity, hate her thoughts. Did she really have them? Can she be that evil?
All in all, either by creating debates, a dark atmosphere for romance, familiarity or relatability, no one can escape the Colleen Hoover addiction. I loved almost all of her books and if you still haven’t read any, I highly recommend you start with those I discussed here.
P.S. I used this book to draw most of the conclusions:
Check out an in depth review on “It Ends With Us”:
If you loved this article, I think you’ll also like this one:
3 thoughts on “Why Is Everyone Obsessing over Colleen Hoover’s Books?”