Wednesday, January 9, 2013


by Colleen Hoover
Read: December 23-24, 2012
Published: December 19, 2012, self-published by the author
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Contemporary, New Adult 

NOTE: Although the characters in this book are in high school, they deal with some very heavy issues. This book is not for young audiences. 

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever. (From Goodreads)

The set-up
Seventeen-year-old Sky's life is about to change. When Hopeless begins, she has just convinced her mom Karen to allow her to attend public high school. This is a big deal, because Sky has been home schooled until now. However, school is not the change I'm talking about. Instead, it is a grocery store that alters Sky's world completely, or more specifically it is when she meets Dean Holder standing in the check-out line. Holder is a boy with a troubled past who seems just as intrigued by Sky as she is by him. Once Sky meets him, her life will never be the same again. 

My thoughts
It is no secret that I loved Colleen Hoover's debut Slammed. For me, the story was the perfect blend of intense, heartbreak, humor and swoon. Plus it introduced me to The Avett Brothers and slam poetry, both of which gave the book a unique feel. I loved all the characters, and I especially loved that the storyline surprised me. I always give major points for a contemporary book that does not follow the standard plot flow (if you don't know what I mean by that, go HERE - fair warning the post gets ranty). 

Therefore it is no surprise that I was anxiously awaiting Hoover's new book Hopeless. I was especially excited after reading THIS post, where Hoover talks about the story having more of everything - darker and heavier, but also much more swoon.  Hopeless was all those things. However, I found that the intense storyline weighed heavily on me. Knowing the first two words the author attributes to her book are hard and heavy, I don't think Hopeless was the right book for me to read right before Christmas. 

I had a bit of trouble relating to both Sky and Holder at the beginning of the story. Holder's behavior is somewhat erratic at first, and that made Sky nervous. I felt Sky's wariness about Holder right along with her, but I also had trouble deciphering Sky's reactions to him. However, once they started to get to know each other - and I got to know them too - I fell for them both.  

Despite the heaviness of the story, Holder and Sky's relationship is sweet and swoon-worthy. It is also quirky and fun, and thankfully does NOT follow the standard contemporary pattern.  As the situations that they faced got tougher, their connection with each other strengthened. Hoover is excellent at building strong relationships between characters who are bound and tested by their circumstances. Their bond with each other helps them to weather the situations they face, and in turn makes them stronger as individuals. I also really enjoyed Sky's friendships with Six and Breckin. Hoover is great at creating side characters that are both endearing and hilarious.

Although I grew to love Sky and Holder as a couple, I had trouble focusing on their romance at times because the rest of the story was so very difficult. As their relationship started to build, I could feel something HUGE looming on the horizon. I think it was that anticipation that had my emotions in a constant knot. I kept feeling restless and worried and like something could hit at any moment (which it did). Once the secrets started unraveling about halfway through the book, I felt like I’d been HIT BY A FREIGHT TRAIN that kept coming. 

In short-form
I get very emotionally involved in my characters' lives. I love it when a book ties me up in knots and makes me FEEL. Hopeless is certainly that kind of book, but the grittiness of these characters' situation made it difficult for me to enjoy the good parts as much as I would have liked. However, the excellence of this book is that Sky and Holder's love story was also stronger and more intense because of what they faced. 

Despite the emotional turmoil I felt about this story, and the title to its contrary, I never lost a sense of hope for these characters. What I held onto through it all was the bond that is forged between Sky and Holder. I think that is the powerful message of this story. No matter how hard it gets, it is worth it to keep going. Life may not be easy, but the secret is holding onto the good parts 

Love Triangle Factor: None

Cliffhanger Scale: As far as I know, this is a standalone. I was satisfied by the end, but it it's definitely not a perfect HEA, and leaves room for more story. I'd especially love to read a companion sequel from Holder's POV. 


  1. I am pretty nervous about reading this one now, because both you and Asheley have used the word INTENSE in your descriptions. But, on the other hand, I love all the things you mentioned. I don't mind issues. I kind of dig books that give you that feeling of building and building and a sense of foreboding. And I am really glad to hear that Hoover has a great cast of secondary characters again because I just loved Ed from Slammed. Of course it goes without saying that I am all about some swoon:)

    So I'm sorry this one didn't go over exactly as expected (hope it didn't put too much of a damper on your Christmas fun!) I think I am going to make a goal to have this one read by month's end:)

    1. Heather, I think I want to read this one again fairly soon. If you want to maybe read it together, let me know. I blew through it, which is really not my style for these intense issues stories. At one point I actually said I needed to put the book down and walk away, but I didn't - I kept reading.

      Y'all know I'm crazy about a re-read anyway.

    2. Heather, I think you can handle this one! I'm just overly dramatic. I actually keep reworking my review because I feel so unsettled about it. I would love to re-read it though, knowing what happens. I think I might completely change my opinion and LOVE it if I did that.

  2. I totally get what you're saying about not being able to focus on the romantic relationship because of the issues, but for me - for ME - I think it was the romance that enabled me to not get too overwhelmed with the other stuff. I felt the other stuff, don't get me wrong, you know I did. But once I got past Holder's broodiness at the beginning and really fell for him - BECAUSE I DID, have sweet mercy - I was able to find a balance that tipped the scales just enough on the side of romance that I was okay.

    But still. Intense to the max, this one.

    1. I know, I know: HOLDER! I didn't talk about him enough above. Yeah he is just one big swoonfest. I agree, I ended up falling HARD for him. The more intense this story got, the more I fell for him. Seriously, that is the conundrum of this book.

  3. Wonderful review, Lauren! Unlike you, I wasn't a fan of Slammed or Point of Retreat, so I think I'll be skipping this. I like Hoover's writing, but the swiftness of her romances just didn't sit with me, so I didn't feel for the story much. I think I only read them for the slam poetry! ;)

    1. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy Slammed - except for the poetry, which I also loved! I don't think Sky and Holder in love quite so fast as Will and Lake did, so I'm not sure you'd have trouble with that aspect of their relationship. But I understand that not every author is for every person.


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