Title: Layoverland

Author: Gabby Noone

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summary: Beatrice Fox thinks she should go straight to hell. So when she awakens from a fatal car accident on an airplane, she’s confused. And once she disembarks? Not only is she in purgatory, but she’s also been “chosen” to join the Airport’s Memory Experience team: forced to use her master manipulation skills to help 5,000 souls suss out what’s keeping them from moving on before getting another shot at heaven herself. There’s just one slight problem: Bea’s first assigned soul is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident. But as much as Bea would love to see Caleb suffer for dooming her to a seemingly endless future of listening to other people’s problems, she can’t help but notice that he’s kind of cute, and sort of sweet, and that maybe, despite her best efforts, she’s totally falling for him. And to make matters worse, he’s definitely falling for her. Now, determined to make the most of her time in purgatory, Bea must decide what is truly worth dying for—romance or revenge.

Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.

Letting yourself feel angry doesn’t make you an angry person. It just makes you a person who’s honest with herself.

Layoverland is described as being a young adult version of The Good Place—and it is, kind of. But I think the main difference is that comparing the two means Layoverland never gets to stand on its own. But it should be allowed to: it was a really great book that is so much more than just “girl dies, ends up in purgatory, and also falls in love.”

In attempting to figure out what’s keeping other Airport residents from moving on to heaven—a task Bea’s saddled with because she has a good bullshit meter which, okay, I get that it makes her good at her job but also it kind of sucks, right?—she also has her own moments of self-actualization. Moments so raw and powerful that you ache for what could have been on Earth. Had Bea not died and been able to see through her own bullshit, maybe she could have actually made a difference in her own life.

SPOILERS —> I don’t often enjoy reading books or watching films where things don’t work out—What If It’s Us and The Last Five Years come to mind—but I also don’t think I would have wanted Layoverland to end in a different way. Bea and Caleb barely figure out their feelings for one another before he realizes that killing her is what brought him to the Airport to begin with, and he has to make the very super important decision to either depart for heaven or stay in the Airport with Bea. I think they both made the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I was happy about the outcome. I wanted to read more of Bea and Caleb’s story, but that also wasn’t really what the story needed or deserved. And Bea saying goodbye to Caleb only to walk into a party her roommate Jenna has thrown just kind of made me want to cry: because it reinforced how Caleb was only a part of Bea’s story, and that there is still so much time left to continue writing it. <— SPOILERS

The one big detractor to this book was Gabby Noone’s decision to split the chapters between Bea’s last day on earth and her time at the Airport. Although I found both stories interesting—and truthfully can’t figure out a way around interweaving them—I was more invested in Airport Bea than I was Alive Bea. But this means that a whole part of Bea’s life, and the impetus for her profound personal growth, remains unresolved. She gets to reflect on her behavior and forgive herself, but her sister Emmy gets silenced in the process.