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Catherine McKenzie Headshot

52 books, 52 weeks, Week 3: Hopeless

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Week three of my quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks found me reading Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, which was at the top of the New York Times' ebook bestseller list. From what I've gleaned on the Internet, Hoover self-published her first two books, Slammed and Point of Retreat, and then got a conventional book deal with Atria, who re-released the books, when they did well. Despite this, she's self-published Hopeless, a format that seems to be paying off for her.

While her first two books are a series, Hopeless is a stand-alone book about a young couple, Sky and Holder (it's YA, go with it), who spend the first half of the book trying not to have sex with one another, and the second half of the book trying to figure out why they can't have sex once they try. The story is deeper and more serious than that, particularly in the second half, but saying anything more would give the "twist" away, and that wouldn't be any fun, now would it?

While Sky's obsession with how good-looking Holder is might draw some comparisons to Bella's yearning for Edward in the Twilight series, Hoover moves her book along at a much faster clip and with a surer pen. While I don't buy either of these characters as 17-year-olds, Hoover does show them falling in love through shared experiences and conversations and arguments that are (generally) substantive. And the book delves into some dark material in its second half with a subtle and compassionate hand. I read the book in a single sitting and I mean that as a compliment.

The one thing I found odd was the warnings on Amazon about the book's sexual content and subject matter making it suitable for those 17 years and older. I was expecting something Fifty-Shades-of-Greyish, but the sex, when it happens, was fairly tame and tastefully written.

Whatever its flaws, and all books have them, Hoover has clearly tapped into an extremely enthusiastic audience. This book has the highest rating I've ever seen on Goodreads, for example, and one of the reader's in the 52 weeks, 52 books Goodreads group pointed out that she had over 2,000 five star ratings on Amazon. Color me impressed.

So now, the next book. I was in a bit of a quandary this week because the #1 New York Times bestseller is Robert Jordan's new book which is (a) only available in hardcover, and (b) the 14th in a series that I have not read. Since books 2, 3 and 4 are the books we've read the last three weeks, I decided to declare a wildcard week and chose a book I'm confident will be on the list next week: The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan.

Read on.