Let me start off by saying that author Colleen Hoover absolutely never intended for It Ends with Us to have a sequel.
Lily’s story of a fairy tale turned into ugly love through an abusive relationship was in many ways perfect as it was.
It was an emotional read that lead its main characters through an impressive arc that gave us the suggestions of a pretty happy ending with Lily’s real true love, Atlas.
When the book absolutely blew up on Tik Tok 6 years after its original publication date and became a New York Times bestseller, Hoover claims she was faced with a dilemma.
Even though she had wrapped up the book the best way she thought she knew how, how could she say no to the millions of fans clamoring and petitioning for more of Lily’s relationship with Atlas?
We Pick Up Where We Left Off
And now here we are, with a new book and a new chapter for protagonist Lily Bloom.
We pick up only moments after the end of the previous book when Lily’s first love, Atlas, bumps into her on the way to her flower shop with her 11-month-old daughter, Emerson Dory Kincaid.
Now a single mother figuring out a civil coparenting rhythm with her jealous ex-husband, the last thing Lily is looking for is a new relationship.
But that’s exactly what this book gives us.
Told from the perspectives of Lily and fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story, It Starts with Us goes into all the details you could have imagined at the end of the last book with their second chance at love.
The complications of figuring out how to navigate bringing Atlas into her daughter’s life.
Whether or not to consider Ryle’s feelings given the way Lily had to cater to him before.
How to move on from the scars of domestic violence.
It Starts With Us Dives Deeper in Atlas’ Background
We do get more of Atlas’ story and learn the details about what he was going through when he was a teenager. We meet his mother and some other surprise characters (trying to avoid spoilers here!)
Getting into Atlas’ backstory and seeing his character development are some of the more compelling elements of the book.
But ultimately that’s the biggest problem: it’s just not as interesting as what you would expect from a Colleen Hoover book.
Doesn’t Feel Like a Hoover Novel
I am a huge fan of Hoover’s works.
So it truly pains me to say that the writing style of this book feels weak in comparison to her other novels.
I wanted to love it, I really did.
But the book feels almost exactly like what she says it is: a book she never intended to write.
Is It Starts With Us Worth Reading?
Now, all that being said, if you go into it with the idea that this is essentially a prolonged epilogue to It Ends with Us, it’s an entertaining enough read.
It brings back the diary entries device, along with Ryle’s sister and other favorite characters.
Even though it didn’t knock my socks off or hit me in my emotional core like It Ends with Us did, it is still a solid enough book.
But for such a highly anticipated sequel (and perhaps partially in part thanks to that), it fell a little flat.
I do commend Colleen Hoover though for giving her fans what they so desperately wanted.
The novel doesn’t feel like a ploy to milk the moment and sell more books (and it easily could have).
It feels exactly like what (I believe anyway) it is: an author doing her best to give her readers/Tik Tok fans what they want.
And that’s a happy ending for Lily and Atlas and a fresh start for them both.