Losing Hope: A Novel

Losing Hope  - Colleen Hoover 3.5 STARSSince I gave this the ambiguous 3.5, I've debated with myself the entire day on whether I should rate it as glass half-full (giving it a 4) or glass half-empty (giving it a 3).And you're gonna read and review it anyway, whatever I say. So:LESSONS LEARNED FROM READING LOSING HOPELesson #1: It's always, ALWAYS hard to review books that present an alternate POV of a well-loved story. Because there's the conflict of critiquing and rating it on its own merits apart from the parent novel or just seeing it as a companion piece meant to enhance the first book's experience.Going with the latter option makes writing a review nearly moot, because I already find Hopeless a satisfying read and I'm not really looking for a way to "enhance" my memories of it. So I'll have to go with the former because I do believe that Holder (unlike Will) has a point of view that needs to be told and Hopeless left enough room for questions to validate this book. I also agree in the need to have it told from Holder's POV because he's the gateway character to Les' perspective which comprises a chunk of the unanswered questions left in the primordial book.Holder was an interesting narrator because he did bring something new to the table for me. It was like seeing the developmental milestones of the stereotypical alpha male hero. From the origins of the pinkie hold:"I remember thinking it was gross to hold a girl's hand so I would always hold her pinky, instead.To the unassuming playa discussing how many girls he's been with with Hope:"There weren't that many," I say. I'm not sure what number constitutes a lot at this point and even then people measure things on a different scale.I'm not saying I wholly embrace who Holder turned out to be behind the smirking and the winking. The Holder Smash (really, Holder?), the Amys and Makennas... These moments may be trying to convey an added layer to his character, his means of dealing with grief and all... But it doesn't mean I have to like it. Especially Amy because that felt gratuitous and out of character from Hopeless' Holder.Lesson #2: Re-reading a story that you loved 6 months ago doesn't mean you'll still love it as much when re-told from a different perspective. The thing with Lesson #2 is that Hopeless' brilliance lay on the unravelling of the story. I have this nasty habit of thinking ahead of where the story is going because I don't like getting surprised and I like keeping my emotions in check. I remember reading the first chapter of Hopeless deceiving me of watching out for the wrong tropes, for a different plot twist. Which left me exhilarated and emotionally drained once I finished. Which means I should remember Hopeless with the same fondness after reading this, if not more. But why am I now contemplating downgrading my rating for it?My problem with This Girl was that I didn't like the new bits, but here, I LOVED the new bits. I loved that there were new things to love: Brecklin, Holder's moments with his mom and the magical llamacorn named Daniel."Is it racist for me to not really want to hear about your gay sex?"These characters were brilliant but somehow made the moments in Hopeless now told from Holder's perspective, pale in comparison. Because now, these scenes lacked the intensity from speculation over the gradual plot reveal that solidly held my attention before. Here, I found myself drifting while Holder mentally waxed poetry about Sky's lips and the angst-ridden moments after the reveal about Hope felt like everything plateaued, the dialogue now bordered on cheese ("I live you" just makes me squirm now). Sure it was still an emotional story but I think Hopeless doesn't holds up well for a re-read with me.Lesson #3: I still can't quit this author if I tried. This was still off from the CH writing canon but a vast improvement from This Girl for me. I don't think male POVs is her strength. Holder's writing to Les, his mooning over everything Sky-related at length, still had me cringing. But it's a joy to finally see her hand again in the secondary characters, in the Disneyland chapter and Les' letter to Holder. Making the lengthy wait for her next, new original release a little more painful.Advanced, uncorrected reader's proof provided by Atria Publishing thru Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Quotes may not appear in the final publication.