May 25, 2014

Title: The Art of Lainey

Author: Paula Stokes ♥ @pstokesbooks

Published: May 20, 2014

Publisher: HarperTEEN

Pages: 384

Genre(s): Young Adult ♥ Contemporary ♥ Romance

Source: Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads: Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 05/23/2014): 3.94

  • Christina thought this was a pretty good read. It goes on her second shelf. To find out why…

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Initial Thoughts and Rating: 3.5 stars! Even though I was intrigued by the premise of this book, I went into it realizing that there was a possibility that this book would fail to hold my attention with a slightly overused, somewhat tired trope– where one relationship blossoms because two people were using each other to make an ex jealous. However, whether it was because Stokes used ancient Chinese wisdom and war tactics or she just writes good dialogue, I’m happy to report that I never spotted a dull moment in this book. It was cute, though slightly frustrating at times, and I ate up every interaction with Micah. I definitely have a soft spot for him, and he’s probably the main reason this landed on my 2nd shelf instead of my third.

♥ The Lowdown: Lainey Mitchell is gearing up for the perfect summer before her senior year– all the soccer and boyfriend time her little heart can handle in-between her shifts at her parents’ coffee shop. That is until Jason shows up unexpectedly during one of those shifts and tells her he “needs a break.” At work. In front of everyone. Now I’m sure this is the point where you’re absolutely thinking, what an asshat, I say good riddance, and I would definitely agree with you. However, when you’re young and have been with the same person for forever, especially when its your first love, it’s kind of hard to see the forest through all the trees and so Lainey decides she needs to get Jason back no matter the cost and save her perfect summer and her relationship because she doesn’t know who she is without him.

Enter her super awesome bestie, Bianca, and her copy of The Art of War– the girls’ required summer reading- and a game plan is born. At the forefront of this scheming strategy is to get a fake boyfriend to make her ex jealous. Thus, the agreement between her co-worker, Micah, and herself is born; they’ll use each other to make their respective exes jealous. Only, when the plan finally seems to be actually working, the feelings that might be developing between Lainey and Micah threatens to blow the plan to smithereens.

My Thoughts: I’m going to be perfectly honest, I read a few reviews prior to requesting this title because even though the premise piqued my interest, I was so worried it was going to turn into a mega crapfest of mixed feelings and one huge love triangle (square?) mess that was going to have me forever rolling my eyes. I absolutely needed the reassurance that this wouldn’t be the case. So, I’m thrilled to report that I did receive the positive feedback I needed to move forth and I, myself, never felt that burgeoning desire to have my eyeballs permanently stuck in a rolled position. I would also like to say that the author executed the plot perfectly, bringing about the balanced amount of comedic relief and fantastic dialogue to make the situation not only less dramatic as it could have been, but also more believable.

As for the characters, I  liked all of them, I believe; though, I will note here that I was mildly irritated by the shallowness and inner dialogue of Lainey in the beginning. Yet, when I took myself back to that place, to recall how it felt to be blindsided and naive about life and love and how they all interlock and sometimes fail so that other (better) opportunities can come along, it definitely made her character development worth reading and her growth came across as genuine. I do have to say that, by far and easily, my favorite characters of this novel where Lainey’s best friend, Bianca, and Micah. Bianca was what I feel like a perfect young adult companion/friend should be. She was happy to be supportive, even when she didn’t think in was in Lainey’s best interest to continue on a certain path and she wasn’t afraid to voice what she felt would be a better solution. She pushed Lainey to consider all her options without acting like a know-it-all. It was a friendship that felt solid and it warmed my heart to see it. Then, Micah… sigh.  I don’t even know where to begin with him. He was honest without being hurtful. He was cocky without being arrogant. He was unapologetically himself and challenged Lainey to step outside the box she’d so carefully crafted around herself, even when she was rude to him. He was protective of his little sister and yet had a bit of a wicked streak. But, most importantly, I didn’t feel like he (or the author) exploited his vulnerable moments to make him seem like a teddy bear with a tough exterior, he just was and it showed through perfectly in his characterization. I simply adored him.

Rec It? I liked it more than I thought I would, but wish I would have loved Lainey more from the beginning. That being said, Micah stole the show and my heart. Yes, I would recommend this book.

A very special thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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