In brief: The sequel to It Ends With Us, this time including Atlas’s point of view. Basically, it’s how he and Lily get their happily ever after.
The good: Easy, comfortable read.
The not-so-good: Was a sequel really and truly necessary?
Why I chose it: Well, if a sequel by the original author is on offer, I will take it.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Setting: Boston, USA
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
It Starts With Us was one of the most anticipated titles of 2022 for a large group of readers. Talk was everywhere – and then it wasn’t. I don’t really look at TikTok that much so I may have missed discussion. It’s a nice follow up but lacks the emotional turmoil and drama of It Ends With Us and Colleen Hoover’s other novels. It’s a bit…well, bland.
This is a novel where you really have had to read the first book to understand what is going on. There’s no deep introduction to the backstory of Lily and first love Atlas, nor their relationships to the other characters. It starts some time from the last page of It Ends With Us and alternates first person chapters with Lily and Atlas. In a way, this is more of Atlas’ story (he’s got some dramas in his life) while not really that much happens with Lily. Given Lily’s history with her volatile ex-husband Ryle, there isn’t too much going on. Even Ryle is kind of subdued for him (maybe the anger management classes or working – or he’s finally realised that a surgeon does need his hands). I was much more invested in Atlas’ story, because the reader really didn’t get much of it in the first book (I don’t think Lily knew the details and as it turns out, nor did Atlas. I enjoyed it more than the story of Lily and Atlas finally getting together, which is slow (quite OK) and smooth (a little boring).
I would love to know if Colleen Hoover ever really planned to write a sequel to It Ends With Us or whether it was driven by pressure from social media and elsewhere. It’s a valiant effort but it lacks her trademark pulling at strings and putting her characters through incredibly emotional things. It’s just…nice. Kind of a lo-fi version. Nobody’s dramas are insurmountable, but they aren’t quite end of your seat stuff either. It’s not a novel where ‘just one more chapter’ occurs repeatedly. I did read it pretty quickly, but I find that’s my usual with Hoover novels. In a way, it was kind of relaxing because I wasn’t as emotionally invested.
It’s not that It Starts With Us is terrible. Colleen Hoover’s voices for Lily and Atlas are distinctive and she gets straight into their heads. It’s just it doesn’t have any deep tension or issues that aren’t resolved in a chapter. It’s like going on the kiddy roller coaster after riding the scariest roller coaster. I did like the new characters, Theo and Josh (both kids). Theo has a talent for the verbal burn and Josh tests the limits repeatedly. I’m reluctant to suggest a book with them in the future…but it could be good…
I read the initial book and quite enjoyed it. I probably won’t read this one as I don’t really wish too. Often sequels don’t measure up to the previous book.