BOOK REVIEW ~ CONFESS BY COLLEEN HOOVER

BOOK REVIEW ~ CONFESS BY COLLEEN HOOVER

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies. 
Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.
For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.
The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

I feel like the first thing I need to say here is that I didn’t hate this book. Yes, there were many parts that were hard for me to read and made me angry but overall I did like it.
See that picture of my Confess paperback up there with all the orange sticky-notes? Half of them bookmarked a scene where I was about to chuck the book at my wall because the characters were so frustrating or I didn’t see eye to eye with their actions. But the other half highlighted quotes that made me smile, and the exquisite artwork that was integral to the story. So half-half but now that I’ve had about a day to process things my feelings are not that torn, which is why I could bring myself to rate it rather than leave a blank for the rating.
I’ll start positive. With every Colleen Hoover book there’ll be a unique aspect to it that’s never been done before in her previous works. In Slammed it was slam poetry. In Maybe Someday it was music. And in Confess it’s artwork. This aspect is probably my favorite part because in the context of the book, the art adds a depth to the story and is a big reason why Auburn and Owen connect so deeply. The writing flowed well, and it’s easy to get sucked up in the story. I also loved that the author included real-life confessions, some that truly warmed my heart and others that made me tear up a little. And then there were definitely a few scenes that were moving and ones that had me smiling. That – for now – is probably the extent of what I loved about this book.
Now there was also a lot about the book that didn’t work for me, number 1 being I didn’t really like Auburn or Owen individually, and I never felt their romantic connection when they were a couple. But Owen first. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but from the beginning his character got on my nerves. He was so aloof and unapproachable in my eyes. This book is written in dual POVs, so in the first chapter that I got to hear his thoughts, he came off as a judgmental perfectionist.
“I hope Auburn isn’t like Hannah [his ex-girlfriend]. There were so many things I didn’t like about her…Hannah disappointed me when she spoke, which is why we spent a lot of our time together not speaking.”
I’m sorry but that up there? Not the best first impression of a hero I’m supposed to connect with. I feel like people need to impress him and have to connect with his art for him to accept that person at all, so his character felt standoff-ish to me and I already wanted to emotionally distance myself from him. And while later on some of his actions were heroic and made me feel a little better about him, he didn’t particularly stand out as a hero to me. My overall thoughts about him are just meh.
Then there’s Auburn. Before I can explain to you why her character eventually drove me up a wall, I have to mention something else about this book. You see, there’s an extra hidden layer to this story that’s not mentioned anywhere (for good reason of course) and it’s supposed to be enough to justify why Auburn sacrifices her future and her happiness. I’ve never been in her shoes so I really wouldn’t know how authentic her situation is portrayed but it makes her romance with Owen forbidden, and with that comes a bunch of character stupidity and conflict that made me want to throw my book at the wall. I like that Auburn is a sweet, gentle and kind-hearted heroine, but I NEEDED her to stand up for herself more and fight for what she wanted and not always give in. She wasn’t exactly a doormat but gosh, her indecisiveness truly frustrated me.
And then there’s Auburn and Owen’s romantic connection, which I never felt in the first place and even now that I’ve finished the book their bond still feels weak to me. The book timeline runs a couple of months but because of side character interference (I can’t say what exactly without spoiling) the total amount of time they actually spend with each other is ONE WEEK. Honestly, I think their relationship got heavy and intense way too fast and even with this author’s stellar and evocative words I still didn’t feel that special spark that both Auburn and Owen claimed they felt.
At this point with all of these things I wasn’t fond of, because of how truly amazing the book flow, the writing, the artwork, and the confessions were, I could still see myself giving this book 3.5 or 4 stars because nowhere here did I completely dislike any part of the story. However, there were 2 things that happened later on that made me go WTF and dragged down my rating considerably. They’re both HUGE spoilers though and I’m not articulate enough to explain without including them so read at your own risk here…
Number 1
So there’s this side character Trey who is obsessed over Auburn and he’s not afraid to use her weakness against her to get what he wants. In one particular night, he’s absolutely livid that Auburn slept with Owen and nearly RAPES her and Auburn doesn’t even fight it. She thought there for a moment that she should just let him take what he wants so he can forgive her for sleeping with Owen (what the hell is that) and after saying no a few times just collapses, sobs, and doesn’t EVEN TRY TO FIGHT HIM OFF. Forget Trey, in that one moment I wish I could be a book character, enter Confess and punch her face and tell her to have some dignity and self-respect. If it weren’t for her kickass roommate she’d have ended up as a statistic rather than a survivor.

Oh but that’s not even the best part yet. Because when the story is over, this issue is never addressed again and the blasé way the author just skips over this infuriates me. Trey isn’t punished for his actions at all. Auburn just says whatever and forgets about it. What kind of message does this send out?

Number 2
This issue is about Owen’s secret where apparently the confession is worse than the sin. I think this part I need some clarification about because this ‘secret’ of his can only refer to 2 things:

1. His situation with his Dad about taking the blame for possession and hiding it from Auburn
2. Him knowing about Adam (Auburn’s first love) and how Auburn’s painting factors into all this, along with Adam’s confession slip

I’m really underwhelmed here because if his big secret was #1, the blurb is exaggerating. She figures it out about halfway through the story and it didn’t even destroy their relationship; she loved him anyway. And if the big secret was #2, I feel like it’s another exaggeration. It’s not so bad that he couldn’t confess it to her because I seriously don’t see how that alone could destroy their relationship. But in the end I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter because he NEVER confessed it to her anyways, which is just ironic and goes against the theme of this book.

That’s pretty much the gist of things. In the past I wholeheartedly put my faith and trust in this author and would dive right in to her books without hesitation but her recent works Ugly Love and now this book have personally left me mindboggled. Her characters are so unlikeable (for me that is) and certain plot twists leave me more frustrated than wowed. The only constant is that her writing is beautiful and gripping as always, and will probably be the reason why I will always read her books. Maybe there’s a change in her approach to NA? Or maybe I’ve become more jaded and cynical and can’t accept how she addresses sensitive issues and ties up loose ends in her stories? Either way, I’m sad that her books aren’t appealing to me as much as they were before. This book wasn’t a total fluke for me, and when I weighed all the positive with all the negative, scraping 3 stars is still good in my eyes. I liked it yes, but it’s not a book I’m eager to recommend to everyone.
Confess is a NA second chance romance standalone unrelated to this author’s other books.
Rating: 3 stars overall, but with many 2 star moments that were only balanced out by the occasional but memorable 4-5 star parts.
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