Hopeless - Colleen Hoover I'd say a solid 3.5 stars. The characterization and killer dialogue at the start of the book was really excellent. Especially the banter between Sky and Holder. Holder sounded like a teenage guy in the beginning, and he acted like one. He and Sky had some flirtatious back and forth when they were feeling each other out. It felt real. It felt teenage. I believed them. Unfortunately, when we got into the meat of the conflict, Holder lost a lot of his teenage pizazz and became a pretty-looking pillow for Sky to cry on. Their relationship is sweet throughout but I wished that more of the initial characterization had remained throughout.

Without getting into spoilers it was fairly easy to predict what Holder was initially keeping secret from Sky, and how her past would have a large part to play in the last half of the book. Because it was easy to read the situation, the book wasn't as suspenseful as it could have been. Though, I enjoyed the drama centering not on Holder and Sky, as most books in this genre tend to do, but instead focused on a situation which involved them both.

My real issues started when Sky learns some troubling things about her past. At this point Holder achieves near god-like status in his ability to love and support her. He's one heck of an eighteen year old. It seems at times that he almost holds a degree in counseling. The connection between him and Sky is solid, but I'm not sure if it is enough to warrant the immensity of his feelings for her, or his ability to put her needs completely before his own. It's really something.

Sky is pretty mature herself. Though her maturity, deep-thinking and constant self-reflection could be attributed, in part, to being home-schooled for most of her life. But, I just didn't buy all of it. She was TOO reflective. TOO perceptive about her own needs and wants and equally selfless as Holder. They two of them are a model of a wonderful, loving relationship. Which is great, but unbelievable, considering their ages and their baggage.

It was a bit of a disappointment after the first part of the book where the characters were so real and spot on. Sky seems too able to face her pain, unpack it and then digest it all in one go. Her reactions are all right there and believable, but she is just so reasonable and rational every time after she's given time to think things through. Imagining myself in her shoes, or anyone, particularly a teenage girl and guy together I can't imagine them coming to terms with issues this big so easily. We're talking sexual abuse and kidnapping, not to mention serious trust issues that she would have from learning that she was essentially kidnapped. And Holder is dealing with the grief of his sister's suicide, only to find out she was also sexually abused. Good heavens! These kids are going to have some STUFF to deal with.

I found myself comparing Hopeless to Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick which I read last year. The subjects are different, but both deal with teens and some really tough issues. Where Blick knew to just when to pull back and let the reader and her character live in the pain of the story a little bit and let the writing speak for itself, without handing it to the reader, all worked out and packed it up into a neat little box, Hoover struggles. This is only her third book, so I think she will get better. The reader needs some room to read around the words in a story like this. To feel confused with the characters. They're not going to have all the answers and neither should we.