This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.
As with the execrable Ten Tiny Breaths, I read Hopeless after seeing many glowing reviews, and I was left feeling disgusted by the behavior of the main characters. I can only believe that people who love books featuring stalkers have never been stalked themselves, and that is a wonderful thing. However, it distresses me whenever stalking and violence are portrayed to girls and women as some kind of manly ideal.
I, unfortunately, was the victim of a stalker (threats to kill me, chasing me down a highway, hitting my car, staking out my parents' house, and on and on) and so when I unknowingly pick up a book that glorifies this behavior, it makes me sick to my stomach.
Hopeless follows the same basic recipe for this New Adult genre: insta-lust, a cocky guy who is disturbingly possessive, and a girl who feels unworthy of such glorious attention. Immediately after Sky meets Holder, he slams his fist into the hood of a car. It only gets better. Watch Holder as he repeatedly invades Sky's personal space and put his hands on her within a day of meeting her. Watch her love it. On the second day after meeting Holder, Sky tells him, "You've scared the shit out of me at least three times."
He demands to know if Sky is dating anyone, and when she gives an unsatisfactory answer, he punches a locker. Then he "takes a challenging step towards" Sky, and stares at her with "hard and cold" eyes. "He curls his fingers up into a fist and drops his hand to his side." We are still on day two, folks. Next, he admits to beating "someone within an inch of his life" and vows to do it again. And still, this romantic twosome argues and fights. According to Sky, "I met the guy a couple of days ago, yet I've never argued more with anyone in my entire life." Don't you just love it?
The hits keep coming. During the next couple of days, Holder goes through Sky's phone without permission. When she asks him to leave her house, he refuses, and lays down on her bed instead and grabs her and pins her underneath him. So he's a trespasser, too. Of course, Sky is tickled pink by this behavior. Then, he roughly grabs her wrist in the middle of the cafeteria and demands to know where she got her bracelet. Sky is intimidated and doesn't reply quickly enough, and his expression "grows even colder. He leans forward a few inches and lowers his voice when he speaks. 'Who gave you the damn bracelet, Sky?'" After slamming his way out of the cafeteria, Holder ignores Sky for a month, with no explanation for his behavior. Please, someone tell me that this is as reprehensible as I think it is. How is any of this romantic? I truly do not understand. For the record, violent, intimidating behavior is not the sign of a powerful man and his deep love for you.
It is the sign of an insecure little prick who will behave this way with any woman who will tolerate it.
So, do you feel like you've got a good idea of the kind of character Holder possesses? What possible explanation could be offered for this behavior? We're not going to get it just yet. Remember, the last contact between these two lovebirds featured a violent wrist-grabbing and an unexplained brush-off by our hero, Holder. If he doesn't sound like enough of a creep yet, he pulls out all of the crazy and sneaks into Sky's bedroom through her window in the middle of the night and climbs into her bed.
It's presented as romantic rather than completely insane and frightening. Our dear Sky views his behavior as "passionate," and there is so, so much wrong with that.
This jackass always offers a "good" reason for his behavior. Reasons, it should be noted, that would be scoffed at by anyone but darling Sky. Sky constantly professes to be scared/annoyed/disgusted with his behavior, but she's appeased and forgives him when he buys her gifts. Sheesh. What a message for girls and young women. And hey! The great news is that this book features equal opportunity violence when Sky slaps Holder in the face.
Violence is fun, kids! Everyone join in, and prove your love and passion with a smack!
We're rolling along wonderfully with the stalking and violent behavior when suddenly, at the 50% mark, Holder pulls a cheap trick. BIIIG secrets are revealed. I want to believe that Hoover had good intentions with a sensitive approach to a difficult topic that affects far too many people. However, with the sensationalized, manipulative, and over the top way she presents the second half of the book, I'm afraid I must conclude: she did it for shock value; she did it as a cheap, convenient way to excuse away Holder's horrible behavior; and finally, she does not respect her readers. As the unbelievable coincidences counted to mount, my eyes practically rolled out of my head.
I have read other books focused on *this* topic, but I never experienced the feelings of heavy-handed manipulation that I felt with Hopeless. It seems like Hoover attempted to wring every last drop of emotion out of her readers, but the entire thing left me cold. This is in stark contrast to two other recent books featuring this topic, both of which tore me apart emotionally because the characters felt like real people to me. I never got lost in Hopeless, in large part because the story felt so phony, and the main characters were awful.
I am still trying to wrap my mind around this New Adult genre. If Hopeless, Ten Tiny Breaths, and Fifty Shades of Grey are representative of what the genre has to offer, count me out.
Note - I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher for review.