Book Review: ‘Lailah’ by Nikki Kelly



In the beginning was the Word is a girl. She knows she’s different–after all she doesn’t age and she doesn’t have a family. She has visions of a past life, of a face in her dreams –a light that severs the darkness, a light named Gabriel. One day, she encounters an injured stranger named Jonah. Soon, she’ll realize that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires (because somehow “vampires” became a proper noun) that serve dark forces. Jonah and other Vampires are helped by an unlikely ally – the one and only rogue Angel, Gabriel. In the “crossfire” between good and evil, love and hate, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when black and white no longer is a dichotomy, where in the spectrum is Lailah’s place, Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her, but this battle is Lailah’s own.

Show, don’t tell. Don’t bombard your writing with adjectives describing the character’s feelings. Show them. That’s all I remember from the creative writing unit from the fall. (Mr. Rielly, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry haha.) Nikki Kelly probably disagrees with my teacher, as her writing is packed with words like “perplexed” and “dumbfounded” instead of phrases like “raised an eyebrow.” At times, Kelly’s writing is rich in similes and poetic feeling, such as in the first sentence of the book, “Lighting streaked and forked into three, the thunder pounded in waves of two, and the silence fell at once.” Unfortunately, more often are the times when you’re utterly confused.

The plot of Lailah in three words? Overdramatic and cheesy. What starts off as a promising plot with angels and vampires quickly becomes a narrative of a girl’s materialism and messy love life (three love interests!). Not only does Nikki Kelly use clichés but her creative moments also seem overdone. I never knew that I’d ever think love squares were cliche, but there’s always a time for firsts.

I’m not trying to bash Lailah, as the novel does have its redeeming qualities. Lailah is a mature protagonist, despite her materialistic tendency. She’s strong, literally and figuratively, but still real. It’s refreshing to follow her developments, even if they’re bogged down by her irritating narrative. If you can make it through much of Kelly’s unnecessary plot, I promise you’ll feel somewhat satisfied.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (October 7th, 2014)
Length: 352 pages (Kindle edition)
Series: The Styclar Saga #1
Source: Netgalley

Valerie is sixteen. She attends a boarding school near Boston, where she writes, reads, and attempts to be a studious student. She's too lazy to write the rest of this bio, so follow her on Twitter @torquoiseworld because shameless self-promotion is alive and thriving!