Two teens, one stuck atoning for her sins and one destined for heaven, fall in love in purgatory in this darkly hilarious and heartfelt rom-com, perfect for fans of The Good Place.
Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell. At least, that's what she thinks. On her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most--her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed for a mysterious destination, she's confused, to say the least. Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news: not only is she in purgatory, but she has been chosen to join the Memory Experience team. If she wants another shot at heaven, she'll have to use her master manipulation skills to help 5,000 souls suss out what's keeping them from moving on.
There's just one slight problem. Bea's first assigned soul is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, and the last person Bea would ever want to send to the pearly gates. 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.
I have exactly one criticism of this book, and I will get it out of the way immediately:
This takes place in purgatory (awesome). Purgatory is set up as an airport terminal in which everyone has to figure their sh*t out in order to catch their flight to heaven (amazing). Everyone stays in an airport hotel with lumpy mattresses and an orange motif (also fitting).
The minute I read the synopsis of this book I knew I was going to read it ASAP. And the reason was because I always find it fascinating when books are about afterlife or purgatory. My obsession toward those themes began when I read The Afterlife of Holly Chase over 2 years ago and ever since I’ve been obsessed with them.
Either way this was such a cute debut novel by the author. I say cute but it was kind of depressing if you start to think deep about it. And the author did a fantastic job writing about something distressing to turning into a humorous and an adorable story.
Also, this book is compared to the Good Place, and ‘confession time’ I’ve never watched it, but i think after reading and loving this I’m definitely thinking about watching it.
I definitely recommend this if you like a fast paced, cute but not plotless story with relatable characters.
It’s true what they say: the best-sounding books have the worst executions.
Okay, maybe they don’t actually say that, but they should. Because in my experience, it’s true 95% of the time (at a conservative estimate) and this book is one of those times. It was a boring, underdeveloped snoozefest.
Seventeen-year-old Beatrice ‘Bea’ Fox has just died in a car crash. She had a very emotional last day on Earth, which featured the rupturing of her relationship with her younger sister Emmy, but things aren’t about to improve anytime soon. She wakes up to find that she’s in purgatory (which looks like a massive hotel). Her sins are stopping her from getting to heaven, and she needs to expiate them by working on the Memory Experience team – basically, by helping 5000 souls confront whatever issues are stopping them from being at peace and moving onto heaven. Only then can she move on herself.
She soon runs into Caleb, one of the few other dead people her age, and they rub each other the wrong way immediately. Things don’t get better then Bea discovers that Caleb was the one driving the car which hit hers. Using her newfound position of authority, she’s determined to make his afterlife hell and stop him moving onto heaven as a punishment. Things become complicated when the trips to his past make her more acquainted with him than she wanted to be.
➽ Okay, so this book suffers from the cardinal sin of writing: it’s so bloody BORING. Like yes, Bea is in purgatory and has nothing to do except eat food smothered in jelly (it’s a purgatory thing) so of course things are boring. But I’m not in purgatory, and if I’m going to spend some of my precious time on Earth reading a book, I want it to be interesting. This book was basically just a cycle of Bea having Memory Experience sessions with Caleb and then coming out feeling bad for him, then determined not to weaken, then having a session, then feeling bad for him… you get the idea. Maybe the author’s intention was to recreate the purgatorial experience for us readers, I don’t know. But I do know that it sapped my ability to finish the book.
➽ The romance is also boring. Boring as hell. Caleb is SUCH a ‘meh’ character. He doesn’t really do anything for the entire book, Bea does everything. Which says good things about Bea but terrible things about Caleb. There is zero spark or chemistry between them. And that brings me to my next point:
➽ Most of the characters, except Bea, are either boring or insufferable. We’ve already established that Caleb is boring. So are most of the other people Bea meets in purgatory, though her roommate Jenna who died of cancer is pretty cool. Everyone from Bea’s lifetime is insufferable. The chief offender is her younger sister Emmy, a spoilt, selfish, disloyal, traitorous BRAT. (In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t like Emmy). The book is told in alternating chapters, with the ‘present time’ purgatory chapters interspersed with those narrating Bea’s last day alive. The more flashback scenes I got the more I realised that nobody in Bea’s life has ever really cared about her. It made me sad for her and infuriated with her supposed best friend, Emmy.
➽ For a book about the afterlife, there is no closure. None. Nada. Zilch. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that I am incredibly disappointed by the ending of this book. It was simultaneously insanely demoralising and depressing, and ridiculously (and unrealistically) upbeat. The ‘upbeat’ part applies mainly to the romance.
➽ What did I like about this book? I guess I’m fairly fond of Bea’s character. She’s blunt, bordering on bitchy, and isn’t always likeable but is miles better than any of the other characters.
A weak debut novel whose intriguing premise is marred by an incredibly thin, uneventful plot.
2 stars // review to come (possibly?) once I get over the never-ending disappointment that is 2020 --------------------------------------------- It says "for fans of the Good Place" so I'm basically required to add it to my TBR
"If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching too many romcoms, it’s that if you love someone, you should always tell them before it’s too late." "That doesn’t apply to real life." "Well, this isn’t real life, Bea. We’re dead!"
Oh wow. This was my most anticipated book of the year and my greatest disappointment. I'm not calling it bad, it's just that...it sounded so good in theory! An airport purgatory! A main character who almost got sent to Hell, but given a chance to make up for being a horrible person instead! A romance between her and a guy who killed her! How amazing does it sound?? Plus that cover, oh my!
Unfortunately, it did not deliver. Bea, the main character, was annoying teenage girl who thought she's smarter than everyone, so cool and rebellious for not being afraid to talk back to teachers, borderline proud of the fact people in her high school disliked her. Now, I tend to like messed up and unlikable characters, but this one was plain boring. And even though I'd say the book was somewhat slow-paced, taking enough time for character building, I just didn't connect to either one of them. Almost like the entire story was told but not shown.
Didn't appreciate the ending either, so I'd probably rate this one 2.8 stars and hope other people would enjoy it more than I did, because I honestly feel bad for not liking someone's debut novel.
This book kind of touts itself as a book for fan of The Good Place, and while I think there are some similarities in terms of plot, it is lacking the same depth and strong emotions that the latter has.
Layoverland tells the story of Beatrice Fox, or Bea as she is known. The story begins with her having "ruined" the life of her younger sister and after that, in tears, she gets in a car accident and is killed. Instead of heaven/hell, she is sent to purgatory (which here, resembles an airport) and is given the task of helping people cross over to heaven by helping them realize what is holding them back. This is to atone for her "sins" on Earth. Of course, one of the first people she is paired with is a fellow teen named Caleb, who, slight spoiler here (but it is on the blurb for the book so I'm gonna say it), is the one who killed her. So now she has to decide if she should exact revenge or let him move on. Of course, surprise surprise, a blossoming romance complicates things.
I think it is fair to say that I generally enjoyed this book. Bea is a funny character, and especially the middle chunk of this book for some reason I found really good. The situation she is in is interesting. The problem is...a lot of this book feels underdeveloped, and I have some big key issues. First and foremost, it was hard to get behind Bea having to spend eons of her life atoning for her sins when, in the flashbacks within the book, she really wasn't seen as doing anything that bad. Especially once you consider the fact that she is a TEEN! She is allowed to make stupid mistakes and be a little selfish. Through the flashbacks to her life before death, Bea kind of develops but I never saw her as someone who necessarily deserved this sentence that she is given. She is incredibly argumentative and perhaps a little bit in denial but again, she is a TEEN! Who is in charge of this place! My goodness.
While this book was short and sweet and enjoyable in a simple way, I thought there was a lot of wasted potential. I kind of wanted to find out more about this purgatory place, and most of the development for that was rushed into the first few pages. Also, there are a handful of side characters but they are, in my opinion, lacking. The friendly roommate, the person who trains her, some other randos in the flashbacks, all seem pretty meh. Basically, I think the main character is fairly well developed but all the other characters are just meh and that kind of hurts the book, for me. Her romantic interest I wouldn't exactly put in this category because we do find out a lot about him but he isn't at quite the same level as Bea. Of course, this is a book for teens so I can't REALLY expect it to get as philosophical as The Good Place does (though teens are smart and watch that show and could figure it out), and it does/should do its' own thing, I just wish there had been a bit more emotional impact to it. This character's big emotional journey was just kind of meh to me, especially because I didn't feel like she necessarily needed to be in this place. Honestly, I felt like she should have been one of the people being helped to cross over, not the one being punished and having to do the helping.
Basically though, a lot of the issues I have with the book are semantics. It was a fluffy rom-com and the story was interesting, I just wanted slightly better development from it. It just needed another few minutes in the oven. And a few ingredients were also missing so maybe that is not the best example but...you know what I mean.
EDIT 15/02/22: I KNEW someone could do a better job with this concept! Read I Woke Up Dead at the Mall instead. Thank you Ms Sheehan, you've restored my faith in YA 🙏
Looks like someone's been watching The Good Place! But like, sleeping through all the best parts and not really paying attention. This is such a fantastic concept for a book, but I gotta say, I'm pretty disappointed at the execution.
Beatrice was pretty fucking annoying and was written as a caricature of a teenage SJW, but then again, maybe that was the point? She's definitely meant to be a bitch since she almost got sent to hell, but she's pushing it, man. I would have sent her straight to hell. I know she's seventeen, but ughhh, she's just so goddamn ANNOYING. On the other hand, the other characters seemed like they didn't deserve to be in purgatory. Like why the fuck was Jenna there? Was she in purgatory because she had leukemia? Dude. Send that girl straight to heaven. What the fuck, God? And some of the people Beatrice helped send to heaven had done literally nothing wrong. One guy was being held back by the fact that he missed his childhood dog? Um? How is that a reason to hold someone back from heaven? Anyway, I don't really know how this purgatory system works and this airport sounds kinda like hell, anyway. As the great philosopher Eleanor Shellstrop said, THIS is The Bad Place.
The romance was a bit undeveloped. The cringey teen slang is also a bit much, but that's mostly on Beatrice, I guess. It just seemed over the top and unrealistic.
But like...if anyone wants to take this concept but make it better, please, please do. Make it angstier, make it more realistic, make your characters more fleshed out, make it more meaningful....I mean, your characters are literally in the afterlife, this book could have been an existential masterpiece! I'm honestly just disappointed. But hey, I cried a bit at the end, so it wasn't a total letdown. It's just that I reckon I should have been crying the whole time if this book had been written better.
Layoverland was a book I really couldn't put down. It's an old cliche but compared with other recent read, I couldn't stop thinking about it and went out of my way to read it, finishing it way faster than I expected. I love stories about people trapped in places and seeing how they cope with the unfamiliar surroundings and the choices they make.
Bea finds herself stranded in an airport with other people who have died and are passing through, after a brutal car crash. She's hired as a member of the Memory Experience Team, allowing her to try and earn her place in Heaven. Unfortunately she gets assigned the very person that put her in Heaven, so she tries to make their afterlife suffer for it.
The best thing about this book is that it's absolutely hilarious. Bea is a witty, fun character to be around and I never knew what would come out of her mouth next. The airport itself is a fascinating place too, with pretty much all food served in jello making every dining experience completely disgusting.
When I got the half-way point of this book, I was certain that this would be my book of the month or even the year but after finishing it I'm not so certain. The ending was very abrupt, leaving a lot of unanswered questions and no closure for the characters I'd come to love. It really made the rest of the book seem a little pointless.
For the unanswered questions, it was never made clear what a 17 year old did that was so bad that they had to earn their place in Heaven. Bea was a distinctly average, albeit hilarious character akin to Eleanor from the Good Place but with none of her viciousness. Well, she did get someone fired. But STILL.
This was a cute debut. I've never seen A Good Place but it's been on my to-watch list for awhile. Based on the previews I've seen, I feel like this book imbibed the spirit of that show. It takes something as heavy as death, and gives it a new breath of life. Almost everyone has a fear of death and of not knowing what comes next, this is just one take on what life could be life in a fun way.
Layoverland follows Bea Fox, a teenager who dies unexpectedly and ends up in a weird airport of sorts for souls. Upon arrival, she's quickly taken aside and offered a job. She needs to atone for some of her sins while alive, so she's given a second chance - help souls move along and eventually she'll move along as well. During this time, she meets another arrival Caleb who it turns out caused the accident that sent Bea here. Talk about a conundrum.
I enjoyed the kitschiness of this book. While it was heavy at times, it balanced that out with a little humor. I really felt for Bea and as we got to know Caleb, I felt for his story as well. Here were two complex characters who were just trying to deal with what life has thrown at them. Despite no longer being living, there was so much growth between the two characters that you couldn't help but root for them.
A solid debut and I look forward to more from this author.
"'Jenna, do you understand where we are? This isn’t sleep-away camp. This isn’t high school. This isn’t some prom with an ironic theme of ‘crappy airport’. Now is not the time for meeting boys and having fun. This is some serious existential stuff, okay? We’re dead.'"
Some things I love: unique books about the afterlife, airports. Yep that's a good list. So Layoverland was perfect for me. Purgatory is an airport and people must confront their pasts to move on to Heaven, or whatever glorious thing awaits them.
The MC, Bea, dies in a car accident and part of her job in purgatory is to help people go through their past memories in order to move on. She has to work with the boy that killed her in the car accident. YA shenanigans follow, but in an endearing way.
I liked the characters, even though the MC was too snarky/angsty teen for me in the beginning, and I didn’t know if I’d continue on reading. But once I got to about page 50, I was all in.
Layoverland deals with authentic teen issues, like losing a parent, not getting into college, and teen pregnancy. The dialogue and situations felt genuine. I also liked how the story unfolded, though the ending definitely begs for a sequel.
Recommended for YA readers who like quirky reads and fans of Elsewhere (best book ever).
I was intrigued by the cover and sucked in by the synopsis and I couldn’t wait to read this one.
I really liked Bea and Caleb. She’s aggressive and maybe a bit hard hearted, but I truly loved reading her unravel her emotions and grow as a character. He seems sweet and unassuming and the conversation between the two of them was interesting. I also really liked Sadie and Jenna and how they tried to make the best of everything.
Plot wise, it was super unique to me. I loved this idea and the execution really worked, especially the flip flop between past and present chapter. I would have liked a little more time for things to feel fleshed out. Everything moved a bit quickly, especially at the end.
Overall, I really liked these characters and I’m eager to see what Gabby writes next.
**Huge thanks to Razorbill for providing the arc free of charge**
It seems odd to call a book about the afterlife "light" and "easy to read" and "delightful," but Layoverland was all of those things. I can't remember a book actually made me laugh out loud (twice!), but this one did with its a-hole with a heart of gold protagonist Bea and a motley crew of side characters populating this airport purgatory. I loved Bea's character development and the evolution of her relationships with the people around her, and the setting was fun to explore for a little bit. It was my kind of summer read: wholesome character development with a slice of romcom. Highly recommend.
Interesting premise spoiled by the petulant brat narrator’s unending tantrums . All of that could’ve been dialed back by half and still made a compelling story... instead, I just found myself rolling my eyes every time she started raging again.
layoverland was actually a really fun book! i think it's best described as a mix between the good place , soul (the disney movie) and a nice little dash of the afterlife of holly chase .
the idea and execution were spot-on, and i was hesitant about this book that it would ultimately flop but it did a really good job! it was funny, entertaining, and ultimately heartwarming and the messages shone through beautifully.
i think bea was kind of an annoying character, and as much as her considerable growth is commended and appreciated, having to deal with that for the majority of the book, as well as the fact that i didn't even like her all that much at the end of the book, i just found her a little more tolerable definitely did make me like the book a lot less. but i think that's a personal gripe, and despite that i would still highly recommend the novel!
I finished it in a day. I am going to be honest I downloaded it when I read about it being one of the main books of January or something like that... but I was a little unsure about the life after death aspect.
MAN. This book was so good. I loved the character development.
I loved the characters. I love how real they felt, cause let's face it... most people are okay...but die with unresolved crap... so what if you died and you needed to help people resolve the crap... and then BOOM you had to resolve the crap for the person who killed you?
Seriously it was good.
I have to be honest how she felt about the situation felt pretty realistic to me. I loved the characters and I love that there was not this whole insta love crap that happens in so many YA books.
This was a very fun read, it does have some triggers that could be hard to read...
This was weird? And good. A good weird. Bea is definitely a character who might be tough to read at first, but you see very quickly what really matters to get and how someone like her develops into being.
The food was disgustingly interesting - Jell-O-cased everything. And the side characters were interesting and flashed out.
My only wish would be for a bit more action in the middle - certain things have to be set up but things dragged a bit during that time.
Laugh out loud funny and deep all at the same time.
ETA: In thinking about the ending a bit more, I'm a little more disappointed than I thought.
Bea is dead. It pretty much sucks. Especially considering the fact that angry lifestyle led to her nearly being sent straight to hell.
But she's got a shot to make things right in purgatory. All she has to do is help 5,000 lost souls find their way to heaven.
Purgatory is 70s style airport where everything is orange and the food is all in jello molds. It's gonna be a great couple of decades. No books, no TV, no internet, just a bunch of semi-good people.
One of her first cases is Caleb. He looks a wee bit familiar and when she figures it out, she's not happy about it. In fact, she'd like to make Caleb suffer, but that is very much against the rules. So, she's got to get creative, but you know what happens to the best laid plans.
I liked Bea and her "bad" attitude. I found it amusing. The chapters went back and forth between her life in Purgatory and her last day on Earth. She felt very real to me, as did all the reactions of the characters when they found themselves in Purgatory. It was a lot of fun and had some sweet moments.
Reading this book was like watching a cartoon. It was fever dream-ish, pink (!??), with a plot that went down a simple path, but still very entertaining.
The MC, Beatrice, oh it was such a joy to read from her PoV. She was salty and she knew it, but without being unnecessarily rude. Though towards the end, the author tried to make her a bit "nicer" (because character development yay!✊), and stripped away everything interesting about her personality.
The love interest, Caleb, on the other hand, was meh. Probably the meh-est character in the entire book.
The side characters felt like they all jumped out of some Phineas and Ferb episode. They were dramatic, but also nonchalant at the same time. And I loved reading about every single one of them.
One thing that kinda irked me throughout the book was the mention of a wide range of important topics like pro-life vs. pro-choice, feminism, white privilege and politics in general, without ever properly diving into any of that. Beatrice very much sounded like a token liberal. On multiple occasions, she went on to give the most basic speeches about abortion rights or male privilege, without much substance to them. Like the first search results that would come up when you google the words.
I liked that the book was short, so I was able to get over with it in less than a day. But at the same time, I think if more time was spent on parts that actually needed to be talked about, this could have easily been a 4-5 star read.
This was a wacky concept. Although a bit repetitive. Which of course, its purgatory.
So we follow Bea, a majorly imperfect person who could be described as guarded and skeptical towards others. Overall negative. It's only after she dies and lands in the airport/purgatory that she evolves into a better person.
We get to meet a bunch of characters in the airport as Bea becomes a Memory-Experience agent who basically helps people admit to their life's regrets and move on from purgatory to heaven. There were co-workers, Sadie, Todd; a roommate, Jenna; and Caleb, Bea's assignment for most of the book. And romance obviously ensues. Not every character was developed, but all had known feelings. So like in real-life where some people open up a lot, some a little, and some not at all. The story was told from Bea's 1st person pov so obviously this is how things went. ------- Overall, an enjoyable read centering on an unconventional teen-romance that takes place in purgatory (unconventional being that one love interest accidentally killed the other.) Anything can happen! ------- But one thing: There is no final closure. So the story begins with Bea sitting in her car crying. The reason was that she supposedly ruined her sisters life. Bea gets hit by another car and dies later that night. Throughout the book, we get to see how Bea's final day alive went. Up to the point where we find out what exactly Bea did to ruin her sister, Emmy's life.
Somehow, it was Bea's fault that the secret of Emmy's abortion got out. Somehow. Her sister definitely overreacted, keeping in mind the fact that Bea only found out about the fact that very moment, herself. In actuality, it was this girl whos-name-I-forgot, but was basically Bea's high school enemy, who just did it to get back at her. And then there was Emmy blaming Bea for the fact that she wouldn't be able to explain herself to her boyfriend who she cheated on. It was all very stupid. Cause from what I comprehend, Bea had no hand in ruining her sister's life. I did not understand. AT ALL. And that is how it went.
SO then I'm thinking what is going on in all this aftermath with Emmy? I wanted to know how she felt after their fight since that was the last time the two ever saw each other ever again. And there was nothing. It literally ends with Caleb going off to heaven and Bea stuck in airport-purgatory for who knows how long.
I had theories: - Maybe it was actually all a test and putting Caleb through to heaven would put her through too. I guess you could say hopeful thinking. Just like I really favor happy endings. I'd like to think time goes much faster in the purgatory that Bea's in so that even if it feels like it took her decades to pass 5000 people on to heaven, that it was only equal to a day's time in the real world. That seems nice. I would have liked more elaboration on the whole purgatory system and its relation to heaven and plant Earth.
In the end, I just really wanted her to be able to see her sister on Earth from the afterlife. Have her get some type of closure from the whole situation. Which was the least to expect since half of this book was about how Bea ended up ruining Emmy's life. Which she didn't even. In my opinion.
This ending was disappointing. Not exactly bad. Mild. Mediocre. Like the medium place. Like purgatory! Ok, I see what you did there Ms Noone.
This book was so fun and funny while also being about, well, death. I couldn't put it down and I LOVED IT. If "a recurring joke about Train's 'Hey Soul Sister'" speaks to you (it does to me), then hopefully you'll find this book as hilarious as I did.
“Layoverland” follows Bea as she tries to navigate her new reality following a car crash that left her in purgatory that takes the shape of an airport terminal and a new job helping souls cross over to make up for her misdeeds when one such soul is someone she recognizes as the person who killed her and she’ll stop at nothing to make his life hell before he has the chance to reach Heaven.
It’s not lost on me that I finish the book on the very day I will watch The Good Place take its final bow and I have to say this is a great comfort book to help me get over that loss.
I loved everything about Bea she is flawed and awful but very real and a lot like me in the sense that she puts up walls to protect herself from getting hurt and due to her untimely death she is never able to right some of her wrongs until she gets to the terminal and is confronted with the person who took everything away from her and also finds herself learning how to be vulnerable.
The set up of a terminal as purgatory was so fun because it’s absolutely miserable and the thought of being stuck somewhere like that sounds like a nightmare only Tom Hanks could make somewhat interesting which is why you could sympathize with Bea, Sadie and all the other souls wandering around waiting for their next flight out and also sympathize with those who saw their afterlife as a new opportunity to embrace what they couldn’t while on Earth.
This was a great read but I really wish there was an extra bit at the end to let us see how things were with Bea’s family and even if someone was waiting for her in Heaven but I guess I’ll just to make something up for myself.