Spoiler Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover (2024)

(TW: cheating, eating disorder, murder)

I feel like I say this with all my Hoover reviews but she’s so hit or miss for me. I can genuinely say I didn’t like this book. It started off interesting but then halfway through, it all went downhill. I’m going to add spoilers because I need to rant properly. Sorry if that annoys anyone.

I had no expectations going into this book so I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged I was in the beginning. The eeriness of the bnb and the setup really intrigued me.

So the book starts off with Layla and Leeds meeting and falling in love. They move in together and one day, Leeds’s ex (Sable) finds out and shows up at their home, shooting Layla. Leeds ends up shooting Sable and she passes away.

Layla ends up surviving but she starts acting differently so Leeds gets an idea for them to go away for a while. He decides to book the bed and breakfast where they first met. It’s on the market so it’s just them for the duration of their stay.

While they’re there, Leeds starts noticing weird things happening. A pot gets pushed off the stove, a blanket is on Leeds when he falls asleep on the couch and Layla says she didn’t do it.

So Leeds sets up cameras without telling Layla and catches her putting the blanket on him. Totally normal until she stares at the camera for a while and then leaves. Then, the camera turns to face the wall, all on its own.

Leeds ends up on a forum where people discuss ghosts and gets the idea to communicate with it. He plays the piano and it plays a few keys for him, confirming there’s a ghost around. The ghost then uses his laptop to type her name, Willow.

Layla has no idea any of this is happening but she still acts weird. She normally worries and her weight and won’t eat much but at times, she stuffs her face and then freaks out because she doesn’t remember cleaning her plate.

We find out later that Willow gets hungry so she takes over Layla’s body and starts eating. She was also the one to cover Leeds with the blanket. Leeds tells Willow to take over Layla again so he can have a conversation with her. This is where I started getting pissed.

I get that Leeds is curious and wants to find out why Willow is haunting the bnb but letting a ghost take over her body is such an invasion. Especially when we’re constantly told that Layla wakes up tired because her body gets no rest.

Leeds talks to Willow every night and Layla is always confused as to why she’s tired and gaining weight because Willow always wants to eat. They spend time together until it starts to get uncomfortable, to the point where Leeds starts wishing/imagining Willow is in Layla’s body when he has sex with Layla. Leeds and Willow end up kissing and Leeds states he doesn’t care if it’s wrong.

One day when Leeds is talking to Willow, she states things about Sable that he hadn’t mentioned, leading Leeds to believe Willow is Sable, especially when she admits she made up the name Willow because she doesn’t have memories. And he had never mentioned the info to Layla so Willow shouldn’t know the facts.

Willow admits the fact that when she’s in Layla’s body, she has two versions of the same memory. It’s the only time she has any memories. Leeds tells Willow to leave Layla’s body and she does, even though they’re in the kitchen and Layla had fallen asleep in the bedroom. It leads to Layla freaking out about how she got into the kitchen and Leeds tells her they have to leave the house.

But Willow takes over Layla’s body again and tells Leeds to help her figure out what’s going on. He agrees and they try to get Layla to rest so her body isn’t tired. But Layla wakes up and freaks out again, trying her best to leave. Leeds tries to explain but there’s something weird going on and she has to stay but Layla doesn’t trust him. Gee, I wonder why.

Willow decides to possess Layla again and they record a video trying to explain things to Layla but Layla just thinks Leeds is drugging her so there’s no convincing her. Willow possesses Layla again so Leeds can tie Layla to her the bed. He then calls a man he meets on the forum to help them figure it all out.

As if all this wasn’t confusing when summarized, let’s get into the convoluted resolution.

The man from the forum is also a ghost who helps other ghosts. Yeah. So he tells Willow to possess Leeds and see if she has dual memories. She doesn’t. That means the body has to belong to Willow. Turns out the ghost, Willow, is actually Layla. When Sable shot her and Leeds shot Sable, both their souls were out of their bodies so Sable went into Layla’s body and Layla’s soul went to where she knew Leeds would find her- the place they met. Try to stay with me because I know.

So when Willow (Layla’s soul) possesses Layla’s body, she starts getting her own memories back and they conflict with Sable’s. So they both remember events from a different point of view. Sable also had struggled with an eating disorder so that’s why she was so self conscious about her weight when she’s in Layla’s body.

The thing that annoys me is that it seems that we’re supposed to be fine with how Leeds and Willow were treating Layla’s body because it turns out it belonged to Willow anyways. Like no, Sable had no idea she was in the wrong body, she thought she was Layla. And Willow didn’t know she was Layla so there’s no justifying the fact that Willow possessed her whenever she felt like it and then ate whatever she wanted. Yeah, ED’s aren’t healthy but imagine how much Sable was suffering mentally because she kept seeing her weight go up even though she was dieting.

It’s all the little things that get to me because Leeds never tries to get Layla help when he thinks she’s eating too little. Instead he tells her she’s fine and should eat more. As if that’s a solution. And Willow judges Layla’s body every time she’s in it, saying that she’s always starving. And still Leeds doesn’t try to get help for Layla. Anyway.

Leeds and Willow now need to find a way to get Sable out of Layla’s body so they invite Layla’s sister, Aspen, for a visit. She’s a nurse so they need her for the plan which is for Leeds to hold Layla’s body underwater while Sable is in her. When she does, Willow can then go back into Layla’s body and reclaim it. Yeah.

So they do this, Sable (who still thinks she’s Layla and that Leeds loved her but is now betraying her) is fighting for her life with no idea why he’s holding her underwater. Once she dies, Leeds has to her Aspen to perform CPR and obviously everything works out at the end.

Because it wasn’t like Willow and Leeds did anything wrong at all. He kissed her when he had no idea she was Layla but that’s okay. Why? Because it was Layla all along so whatever Leeds felt is valid. And Willow was okay to use Layla’s body even though she didn’t know it was technically hers. See? It all worked out in the end the the lead pair doesn’t have to take any responsibility.

They’re all so poorly written too. We know the bare minimum about the characters and somehow we’re supposed to care about them. The most interesting thing about any of them is that there’s a love triangle. How sad is that.

2.5/10

Spoiler Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover (2024)
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