Emily May's Reviews > Hopeless

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
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did not like it
bookshelves: na-experiment, romance, new-adult

I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I can weed out the crap and hopefully find some surprising gems. Here's hoping!

When I started this experiment with the New Adult genre, I knew I was going to have to face a lot of things that I wouldn't like. This genre has become known, during it's short lifetime, for its sexism, its slut-shaming, its poor writing, its eyeroll worthy characters and its creepy portrayal of young male/female relationships. But I think Hopeless disappointed me a lot more because it started well and it could have been good. Yes, it goes with the usual "girl with issues" plotline and the "reformed bad boy" love interest, but Hoover writes in a way that's engaging, she weaves humour into every conversation to make you warm to the story and characters almost instantly. And then she ruins it.

Let's meet Sky Davis. She has all these issues to tell you about. She's never attracted to guys. Never gets butterflies. Never feels swept off her feet by emotions. She makes out with all these guys because she enjoys the numb feeling she experiences during the makeout sessions.The boys sneak in her window, make out with her, then she kicks them out without feeling a single thing. She doesn't sleep with them, though, because that would validate the rumours that she's a slut. And she is NOT A SLUT.

Please bear with me while I try to care.

There is a confusing mix of messages being sent out here about being a "slut", what that means, and how we're supposed to react to it. I get the feeling that the author wanted to treat us to an atypical protagonist who is somewhat sexually promiscuous, as opposed to the usual blushing virgin (well done! mix it up a bit, I say) but she seems afraid of her reader's inability to like a "slut", so she had to make up for it by getting the heroine to frequently and adamantly state "I am not a slut" and simultaneously drew parallels between a mean personality and revealing clothing on other girls. If the author had just been brave enough to challenge the stereotype, to steer clear of the assumed negative correlation between sexuality and morality, then this could have been a very different and a much better book.

Another thing that bothers me is the shallow obsession with looks in this novel. Everything is excused, every act of violence and stalkery forgotten because the love interest is a glowing ball of hotness. Litchick addressed this issue wonderfully. Dean Holder is a creep. If he looked any different, Sky would have not believed his behaviour to be remotely okay, she would have ran screaming in the opposite direction. He sees her ID for two seconds and then suddenly remembers her full name, home address, date of birth, height and donor status. He knows detailed information about her that she never told him. Sky pauses for all of five seconds to think it's weird that he knows these things, but then she gets distracted by his beautiful eyes or perfect muscles.

No, literally, she faints. She faints because he's so hot.

More than that, Sky is immediately cured of her numb, lack-of-butterflies affliction as soon as she sees Mr Beautiful. I'm calling it instalove, you can call it what you will, but whatever it is... it's fucking weird. She is immune to all guys except Dean Holder, and why? Because he is perfectly beautifully gorgeous. No other reason. He's a violent, creepy stalker but: "He's beautiful. Not too big, not too small. Not too rough, not too perfect." And they are such empty, shallow adjectives that say nothing. He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description.

I'm genuinely worried about what these books are teaching young women about relationships with men. They say everything is okay as long as he has a pretty face. Stalking? Of course. Violence? Perfectly natural. Grabbing your chin the second time you meet him? A small price to pay for that level of hotness on your arm. No. No. And also NO. Who does that? For one, who grabs your face the second time they meet you? For another, who stands there and thinks that's okay? Why are these books telling you to ignore your basic instincts of self-preservation. Like this quote:

"My instinct is telling me to run and scream, but my body wants to wrap itself around his glistening, sweaty arms." Stupid.

And also:

"Normally I wouldn't take water from strangers. I would especially not take water from people I know are bad news, but I'm thirsty." And stupid.

This book tells girls and women to ignore the valuable advice their parents gave them when they were young about what to do if approached by a strange man who offers you a drink and appears to know everything about your life, including where you live. It tells them to ignore all of this because he has a pretty face. Well, I've got two words for you to google: "Ted Bundy". Or "Young Stalin".
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Reading Progress

August 10, 2013 – Shelved
August 11, 2013 – Started Reading
August 12, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 120 (120 new)

message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally Thanks for taking one for the team here, Emily. Hopefully you find a good NA book soon!

message 2: by Navessa (new) - added it

Navessa LMFAO "And then she ruins it."

This review perfectly sums up all the issues I had with this book. Wonderfully done, Em. And thanks for the shout-out.


Kristy totally agree with everything you said. however, 'slammed' was surprisingly good!!

Debbie Narh The 15% that I read of the novel, my brain was screaming, "THIS IS LIKE TED BUNDY! THIS MUST BE HIS SON!" This book is so sad and angers me as well. Great review!

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Young Stalin was a fox, omg.

Emily May @Ally Thanks :) I've heard good things about Unteachable, which I'm about to start, so fingers crossed!

@Litchick Haha, you said what was wrong with this soooo well :)

@Kristy Thanks for the info, I have that on my experiment shelf! Hopefully I'll like it more :)

@Abbe Thank you :) Glad to see more people noticing that! I just don't see the attraction with Dean Holder.

@Ceridwen Haha, I know. I feel so wrong when I look at this photo:

Rose Well said, Emily. I'll admit I still do not see what people see in Holder. =/ I didn't understand the attraction to him. I take it you're probably not going to read the follow-up "Losing Hope"? (I wouldn't recommend it, it's just a rehash of this book in Holder's perspective. And he's just as creepy and rage-worthy in that as this one.)

Stephanie I HATED this book. I suppose I was conducting my own informal experiment, because prior to Hopeless the only other NA books I'd read were Fifty Shades and the equally terrible Ten Tiny Breaths.

I think it's important to note that I was stalked at the end of a long-term relationship while I was in college, so it's probably not surprising that I have different reactions to Hopeless than some other readers. Still, it astonishes me that Holder's actions are portrayed in a romantic light when they should be viewed as terrifying. I assume the people who love this book have never been in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, which is wonderful, but I also wish they realized that if they were subjected to Holder's actions in real life, they'd probably be terrified. And that's just not sexy, folks.

Emily May @Rose Ugh. That seems to be a thing now. Isn't that what McGuire did with Walking Disaster? Or am I wrong about that? I wasn't going to find out after stomaching BD.
And no, I'm not going to be reading Losing Hope. I will read Slammed, though, see if that's any better.

@Stephanie Thank you for sharing your experiences and I'm sorry to hear that happened to you :/ I agree, people's reactions would be very different if they had any idea about the reality of these fantasy relationships they love to read about. I find it horrifying that these relationships are portrayed as attractive, it leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

★ʜɑʋɘɳ★ Great review once again =)

I don't get the attraction to Holder either. But I generally seem to have that problem in NA novels. The guys are often so interchangeable. Too many authors go with that 'drop dead gorgeous player with dark past'. I always look for traits that make a character special and different but often that is completely lost. *sighs*

Bibek Thapa Wonderful review, Emily!
And best of luck with your 'Experiment'.

message 12: by jesse (last edited Aug 12, 2013 11:06AM) (new)

jesse my god, why is so hard finding a good new adult book among all the junk?

Emily May Thanks Haven and Bibek :)

@jo There has to be one! Must. Keep. Looking.

message 14: by Rose (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Emily May wrote: "@Rose Ugh. That seems to be a thing now. Isn't that what McGuire did with Walking Disaster? Or am I wrong about that? I wasn't going to find out after stomaching BD.
And no, I'm not going to be rea..."

Yes, it was the same thing. Hoover actually does the same thing in the Slammed series, using the third book "This Girl" to retell events in Slammed from Will's perspective. I didn't really understand the need for the retellings at all. It was just copying/pasting full conversations that happened in the original books they were based on, except minor transcriptions from the hero's perspective. Didn't make sense. It felt like reading the same book all over again, no suspense or intrigue.

Kim  *Mo Chridhe* Would Tiffanie Debartolo's How to Kill a Rock Star count as NA even though the characters are in their mid-late 20's? I've seen it shelved as NA a few times. I thought that was amazing. Other than that it's pretty much just Karina Halle for me.

Good luck on your experiment!

message 16: by NiaKantorka (last edited Aug 12, 2013 11:37AM) (new)

NiaKantorka Don't try Beautiful Disaster. I think you'll get a heart attack from Travis attitude.
"He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description." (Don't get it via cell)
Lmao! Great review.

Have to admit, I like NA books. But I'm well aware they are similar to historical romances - total fairy tales with men who treat women really strange and poor.

Natasha Thank GOD, someone else who actually didn't like this book either! There was so much about it that I disliked, I'd have given it a negative 3 stars if I could.

message 18: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Oh dear. I hope you find a good NA book Emily. So far, this seems to be an utter disaster.

message 19: by Soplada (new)

Soplada and why? Because he is perfectly beautifully gorgeous. No other reason. He's a violent, creepy stalker but: "He's beautiful. Not too big, not too small. Not too rough, not too perfect." And they are such empty, shallow adjectives that say nothing. He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description

oh Emily actually I read a few A books and they are all like this :)
could u please rcmnd any ones that would be better and not that Eclaire type ?
Chocolate Eclairs with Vanilla Bean Creme Patissiere - favourite morning treat @Grace | Grace's Sweet Life #chocolate #pastries #breakfast #food #foodporn #photography
your analyzing is full of reasoning
thank you I was about to read it !

Rachel I have found it interesting that there's all these NA books that have more slut shaming than any other genre I've read. I also find this ironic because I recently read an article about how statistics show women in college being more sexually liberated than any other time and not looking for commitments. Authors out of touch much?

shady boots | #WatchPOSE It must be an extremely torturous journey, this experiment of yours. I do enjoy your reviews of them very much though!

message 22: by rameau (new) - added it

rameau I knew about Ted Bundy but young Stalin surprised me. Should've known better.

Great review as always.

message 23: by Danielle. (new) - added it

Danielle. God this review was extremely spot on. I felt the same way. I didn't give Hopeless a rating because I honestly didn't know what to give it.

Alice Emily, why are you torturing yourself? I very much doubt you will enjoy any of the books in your 'na-experiment' shelf. lol!

Oh well, id you insist on continuing please read Real next? I'm dying (not literately of course) to read a review about that book from you.

message 25: by Nikki (new) - added it

Nikki ""He's beautiful. Not too big, not too small. Not too rough, not too perfect." And they are such empty, shallow adjectives that say nothing. He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description."

An eclair...awesome.

It is really unfortunate that this is what these books are teaching or at least showing their readers and readers are LOVING it. It really supports the fact that there is a long way to go for women in this world and just confirms my feminism yet again. I seriously need to stop getting 99 cent kindle books as I will not be reading this. Why can't you read books for me first every time Emily? LOL ;)

message 26: by Cassie (new)

Cassie So far your NA reviews have been a ringing anti-endorsement for the genre. Also, I feel like I've read category Harlequins that are less formulaic than these NA books, which, y'know, says a lot because those authors are contracted specifically to follow a formula. :\ I'm just really sick of how a romantic hero's hotness has now become the sum-total of his heroism. It's unconscionably lazy writing to use sexiness as a shortcut for personality.

Maybe I'm being too cynical, but this whole genre seems founded more in financial opportunism than in any real desire to meaningfully comment on the collegiate (and immediate post-collegiate) experience.

message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Harian Somehow this review magically showed up on my feed. I HAVE to start following you. I'm loving your POV/reviews for NA Experiment simply because they don't reflect the norm and are so authentic. Really hope you continue conducting this experiment. :)

Rashika (is tired) I literally jumped up and down when I saw this review. Most of reviews this book received were all glowy and wonderful and made me want to rip my hair out.
Thank you for reading the book and writing this review (although I AM sorry that you had to read all of that crap).

message 29: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra "He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description." LOL

"They say everything is okay as long as he has a pretty face." - that's pretty much the characteristic of some romance novels these days.

I haven't read this book yet so I'll hold off on my judgement but most contemporary romance novels always seem to follow the same route. It's hard not to roll your eyes when they keep on repeating all the cliché's of the genre. That's why most times I try to read them few and far between. But interesting review!

message 30: by Deb (new) - rated it 2 stars

Deb Besides all that, nothing happened in the book, either. Yes, the protag learned stuff about herself, but otherwise, nothing actually happened. I admit I can overlook all the "But he's so pretty" stuff, because I read these as fantasy, basically (though I do see the point - we need more books where the hot bad guy is beaten down by the less attractive sweetie because too many people DO read these as life lessons... and fiction is a great way to learn life's lessons), but I was getting pretty bored by the end of this one.

message 31: by s.penkevich (last edited Aug 13, 2013 06:54PM) (new)

s.penkevich Ha, the gifs are better than the book itself (but I mean, Rocky Horror wins my heart any day over most things). Grand review, Emily. Brave and rocky task you are undertaking, good luck!

message 32: by Joanna Marie (new)

Joanna Marie Oh my!!

Kristy I wasn't a huge fan of this book either. I thought I was the only one in the universe because if you look at the reviews this book is supposed to be the greatest book in the history of time. I gave it 2 stars because I was generous. I know you want the full YA experience so I suggest you read: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. I started reading it but I stopped to read 'The Shining.' I will finish the book after 'the shining' since I only have about 30% left. PS - I am not recommending this book because it is good. I am recommending because of it's popularity. You've been warned lol.

Emily May @s.penkevich Thanks! I was delighted to discover on tumblr that there is a Rocky Horror gif for every emotion you can possibly feel, haha.

@Kristy Lol, I've added that one because of the popularity too! I'm going to guess you probably didn't miss anything much by stopping. I'll consider myself sufficiently warned :D

message 35: by Kathylill (new)

Kathylill OMG but Young Stalin was hot! Didn't know that but now I will read this: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/82... ... thank you for the inspiration :D

Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell Young Stalin seriously is a total man-babe. I'm planning on reading that book for the exact same reason.


message 37: by Amy Nielsen (new) - added it

Amy Nielsen I keep reading these insta-love, idiotic swooning books and wonder if my brain is being fried while I read. Really good review! I especially like your comments about how these books influence young girls. I read one recently that was almost this exact scenario and it was alarming! I mean everyone wants a hot guy rite? but not one that is an offshoot of Jack the Ripper. weird. but wait - he's amazingly beautiful...so it's ok.

Emily May Thanks, Amy! It's amazing how a pretty face can excuse anything in these books... such a strange and damaging message to be sending out, IMO.

message 39: by Moonlight Reader (last edited Aug 28, 2013 01:17PM) (new)

Moonlight Reader I didn't like this one much either. I get the lack of Dean Holder love.

I want to talk about this part of your review, though:

"She is immune to all guys except Dean Holder, and why? Because he is perfectly beautifully gorgeous. No other reason. He's a violent, creepy stalker but: "He's beautiful. Not too big, not too small. Not too rough, not too perfect." And they are such empty, shallow adjectives that say nothing. He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description"

I didn't get that she was immune to all guys except Dean Holder because he was gorgeous. Maybe I'm overthinking it, or giving the author too much credit, but I read this whole part of the book as trying to convey (whether it was successful or not is another issue) some sort of a psychological reaction to the (view spoiler). Sort of a subconscious recognition if you will. Although it was indeed convenient that he was beautiful.

Now, having said that, I had major problems with this book that I can't really discuss without spoilering the whole thing. Suffice it to say that my job puts me into contact with alot of victims of childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and other forms of violence, which means that I have major problems with a lot of the NA genre because they are so incredibly exploitive of people who have been actually victimized. I find it offensive that NA authors throw in a spot of sexual abuse to up the angst without any real insight into the myriad of repercussions of that kind of history can have.

Emily May Hi Christine. Your interpretation of her attraction to Dean is very interesting and I never thought of it in that way. I suppose it's hard to say what the author's intentions were but I'd definitely like to think there was some more intelligent reasoning behind it than what I took from the book. Thank you for giving me something to think about.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about the way NA authors throw in sexual abuse without dealing with it in a sensitive and appropriate manner. I also dislike the way it's used as a plot tool for romance; it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth when abuse is used casually to bring two characters together.

message 41: by Moonlight Reader (last edited Aug 28, 2013 02:58PM) (new)

Moonlight Reader it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth when abuse is used casually to bring two characters together . .

This. The other thing that I think is just so incredibly unhelpful is that in every single one of these books the childhood abuse is such a deep dark secret.

I'm a child abuse prosecutor, so I spend my days swimming in a sea of sex abuse. There is a constant and never ending deluge of abused children in my life. And here's the thing: the fact that someone was the victim of sexual abuse as a child does not necessarily mean that they will be sexually dysfunctional as an adult.

It does not mean at all that they will be damaged beyond repair, and that as a result they will need to find some equally angsty and damaged guy to cure them.

And these books offend me because of that - because what are they saying to the emotionally healthy girls who have worked really fucking hard after their abuse to become emotionally healthy? That they aren't right in the head because their abuse didn't fuck them up. That their incredible and amazing resilience and fortitude somehow makes them less feminine and less appealing.. Right? That's what they're saying, right?

And the thing is that sexual abuse is really, really common. I wish it wasn't, but it is. And acting like abuse victims are irretrievably broken because you are such a shitty writer that you can't figure out how to inject angst in your book without manufacturing it with some sexual abuse makes you lazy, and unskilled, and exploitative, and wrong.

We need to get past a society where abuse victims keep their abuse hidden because people will presume that they are fucked up as a result of it. And there is a difference between it's none of your business and you're gonna assume that I'm a weirdo if I tell you. Abuse victims did nothing wrong. And if society stops assuming that they are broken because of something that happened to them, then maybe what happened to them won't actually break them.

message 42: by Rashika (is tired) (last edited Aug 28, 2013 02:54PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Rashika (is tired) Christine wrote: "it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth when abuse is used casually to bring two characters together . .

This. The other thing that I think is just so incredibly unhelpful is that in every single ..."

What you said was perfect.
It's one of the reasons I try to avoid books like these.. they tend to have a certain take which bothers the hell out of me.

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Em! I don't really read NA since...well, I'm NOT an adult for starters. But I'll know to avoid this!

Emily May Thanks, Kwon :)

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Emily May wrote: "Thanks, Kwon :)"

Your welcome ;)
Gosh, though, WHAT THE HECK. If a stranger started spouting my private info, I'd scream and report him. And the 'slut' issue. Oh, but we HAVE to affirm she is NOT a slut, or you won't like her! Gosh. I guess the author wanted to take a risk but couldn't go all the way.

Amanda Parish Great review. I HATED this book with a passion. It was bad from beginning to end for me. And soooooooo unrealistic which bothers me more than anything. Super cheesy & since this was the first book that I ever read from this author, I refuse to read any more.

Emily May Thank you :) You are wise. I decided to try Slammed after finishing this and the writing was terrible. I'm definitely staying away from Hoover in the future.

message 48: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary I laughed so hard at your last sentence. WONDERFUL review! I really don't get how girls can just push away all the suspicious creepy stalkerish things a guy does because he looks hot. That is just idiotic.

Emily May Thank you :D And I agree wholeheartedly, I can't believe authors even try to sell something like that...

emily 2 stars for me, I was deceived by the popularity and good ratings..

Sky left the holders house without undies. That must be very uncomfortable hahaha, plus she has crossed over a fence?

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