by Colleen Hoover
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: November 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 307 [paperback]
I’m going with a diplomatic three and a half stars for this. I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. It lived up to Hoover expectations. An incredible and unique book. But with a big pinch of salt because you can’t deny Ben is a slightly creepy character at the end of the day. Much to ponder.
What’s it about?
November 9 is a highly-strung romance by our absolute favourite, Colleen Hoover. I went into this expecting all the amazing tension that we normally find in a Hoover novel, and this book delivered that 110%.
This is the story of Fallon and Ben who meet up every November ninth, the anniversary of the first day they met. It is also the anniversary of the fire that changed Fallon’s life. They are both interesting characters and we start off knowing more about Fallon than Ben. Both have interesting histories: Fallon having serious burn marks over a large portion of her body from a house fire, whilst Ben continually alludes to not being ‘okay’ because of something we don’t know about.
At their first meeting, Ben intervenes when a father-daughter breakfast at a cafe isn’t going so well between Fallon and her, more or less, estranged father. Ben overhears the conversation where Fallon’s father is being a total ass and he steps in to try and help her out.
The two of them more or less hit it off after this, but because Fallon is moving to New York that very night to pursue her acting career, they agree not to start a long-distance relationship, but instead to meet up on the same day for the next five years and see where that takes them.
My confused thoughts
It’s a ridiculous plotline but super fun because of its ridiculousness. It’s hard to imagine a real-life scenario where two people would meet in this way and agree to such terms. Hoover really toed the line with appropriate levels of creepiness (is that a thing??) from Ben, but overall I enjoyed how silly this book was and how sizzling the romance was.
I both loved this book and felt icky about it. Fallon is an interesting character who’s been through a lot, but I didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about her. But since reading a few other reviews and gathering other people’s thoughts about her, I do think she was a little bit of a weak character. She made a number of questionable decisions regarding Ben, but if we’re not taking this too seriously, I’m willing to overlook them.
I originally sat at a four stars for this but the more I thought about Ben’s character, the more it bugged me. I can definitely see this as being a divisive story where I’m not so sure I could be as opened minded as Fallon would need to be. Ben is slightly obsessed with Fallon and whilst you could write it all off to being madly in love, there is an undercurrent of unease surrounding him that I just didn’t love. The spoiler section below contains HUGE spoilers for the final plot twist.
Naturally we have to speak about the plot twist. Finding out that Ben was the one who started the fire that Fallon was in was upsetting. The fact that he pursued a relationship with someone whose life he quite literally ruined was horrendous. I don’t know how to feel about it. Obviously he was sorry for what he did but I don’t think that actually justifies his actions.
I was really shocked that the twist Hoover went for was to have Fallon forgive him. I’m trying to take it all with a pinch of salt because this is romantic fiction with the spicy thrilling line Hoover always puts in, but goddamn, surely you walk away from that muddled mess.
I can’t work out if just because Ben was a confused and hurting kid at the time makes it okay that he literally stalked Fallon’s dad to find her and then got himself involved when he knew what he’d done. I’m this close to buying the story Hoover is selling to us, but there’s enough of me that has a problem with this that I can’t award this is the five stars I otherwise would have. Because damn, this is one heck of a romance.
I’m definitely a bit conflicted over this one. It was so hard to put down, it was such a good read. But I don’t think this is a good story for setting an example of how to handle difficult issues. As much as one could argue that romantic fiction isn’t written to do so, I do feel books play a big role in influencing our decision-making abilities. SO in summary, LOVED the romance (problems aside), did not love thinking about this too seriously and what this all means.
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