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Zyla & Kai- Review

Zyla & Kai

By Kristina Forest

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: June 7,2022

Publisher: Kokila

Source: Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Stars: 3.5

Amazon Indiebound


A fresh new YA romance novel by Kristina Forest, Zyla & Kai is an epic star-crossed love story about first love and not just the will they, won’t they— but why can’t they?

While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different.

Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai.

Kai was a serial monogamist and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla.

Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?

Romantic, heart-stirring and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.


Kristina Forest is one of the few YA authors I read. I didn’t really really YA when I was a young adult. In the case of I Wanna Be Where You Are and Now That I’ve Found You, the high school aspect wasn’t as prominent as in Zyla & Kai. This book did not make me miss the pressures of high school. I was honestly exhausted reading about Kai’s schedule. There were definitely things I thought were handled well, like Kai’s mental health and that it is an ongoing thing and needs to be worked at; not just something that can be resolved with a quick trip to the therapist. The connection between Zyla & Kai and their support of each other goals, even when those goals will inevitable put a strain of their relationship, was really endearing. In addition, Zyla’s fear of relationships and the impact of both of Zyla and Kai’s pasts on their relationship was very realistic, especially for teens navigating that along with hormones and other pressures.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of how the book progressed. From the very start, you knew when things would go wrong for Zyla & Kai, being Valentine’s Day and St Patty’s Day. Almost the entirety of their relationship was as a flashback and I’ll be honest, that’s not my favorite. Despite that, I was quickly pulled into their friendship and later relationship. Overall, this was a very sweet love story and I can definitely see YA fans really enjoying this book.

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