By Tanisha Dang, September 26 2023—
This article includes spoilers for Collen Hoover’s book, Verity.
The first time I held a Colleen Hoover book in my hands, she had not yet blown up on BookTok. I was an avid reader of mystery and thriller and came upon Hoover’s Verity while searching for new novels to fill up my time. I had only gotten through approximately ten pages before I could no longer continue to read on because the protagonist was completely unbearable.
I ultimately put the novel up on Facebook Marketplace and sold it for fifteen dollars. Now, imagine my surprise when I came to discover that Hoover is viral on TikTok and many of her novels, especially her romance ones, skyrocketed and were frequently praised. After seeing so many positive reviews about Hoover, I decided to give her another chance and once more, picked up Verity (since I couldn’t muster any ounce of interest in her romance novels).
It’s safe to say that I will never pick up another Hoover book again after finishing Verity. The story made me genuinely question the sanity of the author and her credibility as a thriller writer. How it became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller will forever blow my mind.
Let’s talk about our protagonist: Lowen Ashleigh, a melancholic writer veering towards the brink of financial ruin, is offered a job by Jeremy Crawford to finish the remaining books of a popular series written by his wife, Verity. Lowen’s character was so pitifully underdeveloped and unlikable that I needed breaks from the novel because of how irritated she made me. It felt like Hoover struggled to write Lowen as a protagonist whom readers could sympathize and empathize with. Instead, she settled for a two-dimensional character who liked to milk her tragedies for attention. Case in point: Lowen alludes to some life-changing tribulation that was apparently so terrible that she moved to Manhattan to be invisible at the beginning of the novel. She emphasizes her exhausted appearance with frequent mentions and her inclination to self-isolation because of this supposed dark secret.
Turns out, Lowen’s baggage was just an estranged relationship with her deceased mother for — cue suspense music — sleepwalking. While Hoover alludes to Lowen’s supposedly tragic and traumatizing past, she never actually writes Lowen as someone who is affected by it. And please do not get me started on her moral principles.
Not to mention how Lowen, who was oh so tormented by her past and rejected by her only parent, easily allowed Jeremy to get so close to her. Speaking of which, neither character was developed enough for us to understand the absurd romance between the two, which made their whole relationship feel abrupt and irritating. Jeremy went from a kind, loyal and innocent father to someone who had no care for the fact that he was screwing Lowen in the same house as his paralyzed wife and toddler son. Hoover couldn’t have at least written in some remorse or internal conflict on his part?
Let’s not forget the fact that Lowen kept comparing Verity’s comatose state to an egg with no yolk. And there is something seriously wrong with Lowen mimicking Verity’s habit of biting into the headboard when she’s about to finish in bed — and keeping score even after Verity dies.
Lowen’s character becomes far more intolerable with the way Hoover writes her. Let’s not get started on the random, fancy words that Hoover throws in once every few chapters, disrupting her generally simplistic writing style. And what is up with all the italicized words in the book that hold no significance? They just make Lowen come off as melodramatic and give off “I’m not like other girls” vibes. Lowen is the dullest character I’ve had the displeasure of reading about, and Hoover does a stellar job of depicting Lowen as boring and insipid. She quite literally describes Lowen as someone with a “Resting Bored Face.”
It’s clear that things only happened for the progression of the book. The plot twist at the end of the novel is ridiculous—Verity faking her paralysis and writing a letter that posits her innocence makes no sense, even when you consider both sides. The epilogue—for those who purchased the collector’s edition—doesn’t clear things up in the slightest. In fact, it only adds more questions. Hoover’s Verity has plot holes, zero character development and terrible writing. The only point I’d give her is for her creativity to write something as messed up as this, but Verity was the kind of novel that I’d expect to find on Wattpad with its nonsensical plot.
For those who are interested, I’d be selling my own copy, yet again, for fifteen dollars.