a book shop window displaying colleen hoover's book layla and the words book review

27 MAY, 2022


Layla is a novel that, according to the publisher, “explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.” I guess that’s one way to put it, but before I tell you what I thought about this story, let’s take a quick look at the plot. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes:

Deadbeat and general weirdo (my assessment), Leeds, meets bubbly belle Layla at a gig. He’s the suffering moody musician, she’s the upbeat dream girl. It’s instalove. She’s the one and he’s going to spend the rest of his life with her. But then shit happens and Layla is left fighting for her life. She spends weeks in hospital and does, eventually, recover physically. Emotionally, however, she is no longer the same girl Leeds wanted.

Desperate to save their relationship and get his girl back, Leeds kidnaps whisks Layla away on a “romantic” trip to the place where they first met. But Layla doesn’t behave the way he’d expected her to. And then we add a couple of spoonfuls of paranormal plotline and a triangle drama, and from there things really go south.

I’m at a loss as to how to review this book, to be honest. I really thought I would enjoy it because I read Hoover’s first book, It Ends With Us, and loved it. It was her debut and a really well-crafted one. So, when I saw this one get mixed reviews on Booktok I wanted to give it a go, but I was sorely disappointed. The problem is, I’m not even sure why.

Colleen Hoover is a good writer, and I’m trying to understand whether I have a problem with the story as such, with the way it is told, or with the characters. And maybe, in a way, the biggest problem for me is the main character. There is nothing to like about him. No redeeming features.

Now, I’m the kind of reader who prefers character over plot, if you’re not this may not be a problem for you. For me, a story needs to feature interesting characters dealing with interesting or fascinating problems, and either succeed or fail to solve them. In Layla, we’re presented with an unlikeable, two-dimensional main character, and I don’t understand why. Especially since a large part of the book plays out inside his head.

It could be that it is harder to write a male MC if you are not a man. But I’m not even sure if that is the problem here. Maybe it is the fact that we get thrown straight into the action with a musician who hates being a musician spotting a girl on the dance floor and two minutes later it’s instalove. Not infatuation, not lust. Love. This is the woman of his dreams and this is the one he’s going to have come hel or high water. And the one he ends up having, and the rest is something that can’t seem to decide what kind of story it is.

Now, I love multigenre books, and I am by no means saying it has to be one or the other. But even in multigenre you need to feel like there is some kind of order. Am I reading romance, horror or a paranormal murder mystery? Is it fantasy? Is it a thriller? Is it just me? The answer here is that I’m not 100% sure. Is it romance? I’d say no, but it is listed as one.

This book gave me a headache and I think that’s a crying shame. It could be down to me just don’t getting it, so I rated it two stars because it really was a meh reading experience for me. I’m not hating it. I’m not saying it is badly written. I’m just… I’m just not feeling it on any level. Not engaging with the story. Not engaging with the characters.

I don’t feel like I’m reading a romance, but I also don’t necessarily feel like I’m reading a paranormal story. I just don’t know, and that’s why meh is my final rating of this book. I’m still going to read more Colleen Hoover books because the first one was brilliant, I think I rated it five stars, and I can’t wait to see what else she has written.

This one, however? Not for me.


Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of an imaginary pirate ship, a weaver of stories, and a certified pain in the arse. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poetry.

Named after a sweet little flower that grows in mossy fir forests, and a fiery fallen angel, Linnea takes great pleasure in everything that tickles all the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

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