This is a book review for Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover, available here:
I’m not going to lie. I downloaded this book because I like Nick Bateman. And when I say like, I mean I like looking at videos of him and his cute puppy and his bo staff on Facebook, because the dude has real skills. REAL skills. Even his students are crazy skilled – you should see the floating bo staff kid! The fact that he’s a total hottie is kind of a bonus. Honest.
Anyway, thanks to fan campaigning and contributions, he is starring as the main character in a film version of this book and I was curious enough to download it after watching the teaser trailer. It left me SO conflicted. Part of me wanted to love it and another part of me wanted to tear it to shreds. I finished it yesterday and I’m still torn over how I feel about it. If I read it with my heart I think I’d love it, but I couldn’t leave my head at the door and that pulled me in a different direction.
I’d never read any of Hoover’s books before, so the writing style was a complete surprise to me. I’m going to put my hand up to the fact that I’d assumed she was like dozens of other writers in this field, but I was pleasantly surprised. Her writing is both lyrical and conceptual and I really loved that about it. I loved the way she plays with ideas of liquid and solid and describes the irresistible draw between two people who are that attracted to each other. It seduced my brain in ways it hasn’t been since I last read something by Tiffany Reisz.
I loved Tate as a lead character. Despite her helplessness in the face of her feelings, she’s strong and vibrant and sassy in a lot of ways. She’s no vapid doormat. She knows her mind and she’s okay with who she is, despite her moments of vulnerability. I liked that she could see Miles’ behaviour as unfair and she even mentions red flags a couple of times in the book and that gives her extra credit as far as I’m concerned. I was emotionally engaged with her and rooting for her. Her internal turmoil is both painful and realistic and absorbing. I liked that she didn’t judge anyone (except Dillon, who totally deserved it) and her friendship with Cap is one of the best threads throughout the story.
The cast of supporting characters are also really good. Dillon is superbly and shamelessly creepy. Corbin is a typical big brother and his character rings as truly authentic. I know this because my brother was exactly the same and I didn’t date for 9 years. 9 YEARS. Thanks Stuart. Really. Thanks. *facepalm*. That blend of unfair dictation and love is realistic and it was great. Cap is also brilliant – I love his lame jokes and the wisdom he imparts. I’m still laughing over the interrupting cow joke.
This is erotica and while the sex scenes are really well written, they’re not so hot and steamy that you get flustered reading them. In a weird way, that’s one of the strengths of this book. Because they’re not so captivating, they’re not the whole focus of the plot. The emotion is. It’s a fine line to walk and I think Hoover captures that balance brilliantly.
I think what caused the conflict for me was Miles Archer, the main male character. The way he was written, I really wanted to like him. He’s obviously damaged and Hoover didn’t go anywhere near that hideous trope of abuse being disguised as love. She wrote him really well. He doesn’t claim it’s love, he doesn’t hide what he is and he makes no excuses for it. He’s up front and honest about what he feels he’s capable of giving and even when he acts in an unpleasant way, they both knew it was coming. That’s where the emotional turmoil is so great – Tate can’t help feeling let down but she knows it’s because she set herself up for it by wanting what he promised he couldn’t give. The problem I have with him is that I didn’t buy his reason for being the way that he is. I get that his back story was traumatic but I just didn’t feel like it translated into his current mindset.
If I can’t buy his damaged back story, then it means that he’s just acting like a dick in the present.
And that’s where I’m conflicted. Because I really wanted to like him. I felt for him. I wanted him to change, to open his heart, to let it go. I felt sad for him because of his past and the story in the present is so well written that I wanted to give it my whole hearted approval. There was just something missing for me.
I’ll maybe feel differently in a few days, I don’t know. On the plus side, I’ll go and see the film and I’m definitely going to download other books by this author because I have a feeling she could be a new favourite.
Would I recommend it to other readers? Yes, I would. Especially if you read erotica anyway. It’s a fresh look at a genre that sorely needs it.