Hi guys, today I’m participating in the book blast for The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes. Scroll down for my review, and then enter to win the book plus some sweet swag!
Publication date: May 20, 2014 (today!)
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?
It was hard for me to like this book. I was really expecting a sweet and fun spring romance, and this book ended up having a lot more to it that that…which is actually a good thing!
But, guys…you will kind of hate Lainey at the beginning of this book. She’s one of those perfect girls that you knew in high school: beautiful, a jock, super-popular, dresses great, has hot boys falling at her feet. She has a perfect life, and she thinks she’s entitled to it. So right from the start, you’re kind of not really on Lainey’s side.
Even when Jason, her ex, breaks up with her, you don’t feel bad for her because the things she believes about their relationship are so obviously SHALLOW. And the thing is, she doesn’t mean to be, and she doesn’t see anything wrong with that. It’s an interesting take on a YA character – and it’s very clear that it’s deliberate because the themes in this book – being yourself and learning about who you are versus who other people want/expect you to be – were done REALLY well. They weren’t subtle, but I believed in Lainey’s journey.
And that’s the thing: Lainey’s transformation throughout the novel is SO real – it’s slow, steady, and it takes quite a few twists and turns. It’s painful and hard for her to change, and it takes a lot to force a moment of crisis with her…and that is one of the best parts of the novel because it feels so true to life. I’m honestly somewhat amazed that I did end up liking her and rooting for her at the end. She really learns a lot more about herself and that was a big and important part of why this novel came together.
It did take a long time to come together. Two things kept me reading: 1) the writing, which was sharp, witty and superb in dialogue, and 2) the secondary characters. I’m pretty sure I would have put down the book if Lainey hadn’t had great, fleshed-out friends who kind of balanced out her whininess. Micah, in particular, saved this book for me. His voice was so much like teen boys I remember, without losing the sensitivity and uber-cool bad-boy-ness. See the bonuses for more details.
If I have a criticism, it’s that the pacing of the book felt a little chaotic, and it kept throwing me for a loop – I had to stop reading a few times because I just couldn’t connect with Lainey and with the actual plot. Even though Lainey is doing something pretty universal – trying to get back an ex – I felt strangely disconnected with the plot and with her. The pacing always picked up with Micah, then would slow down again, and I felt, like Lainey, that I was discovering her in fits and starts. I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended, but it felt a little bit jarring to me.
Fully Developed Secondary Characters: What I really liked about this book is how much the secondary characters weren’t just cliches. Everyone gets the full treatment as a character, and there’s no one who’s a device. Even Kendall, Lainey’s super-snobby friend, really gets a storyline that makes her bitchiness make sense. And Jason, Lainey’s ex – you kind of get why Lainey liked him in the end. No one is perfect in this novel.
Adorable Side Romance: This kind of falls in line with the developed secondary characters thing – I love it when characters have a romance on the side and it works out. This one came about very naturally and I was grateful for the added layers to the story.
|Kind of reminded me of Save the Last Dance?|
The Final Word:
The Art of Lainey is not what I expected it to be: it has a really unlikeable MC, and a lot more twists and turns and self-discovery than I expected. But it’s kind of like medicine – it’s not easy, but sometimes you need to choke down something that tastes just a little bit gross in order to get better. I felt like the ending of the book rewarded me with that clean bill of health, and the sweet romance that I deserved.
THE ART OF LAINEY comes out today! Want to win this book? You know you do…scroll down for more about the lovely author, and to enter the contest!
Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
And now…the giveaway! You must be 13 years old or older to enter!
2 Winners will receive a Copy of The Art of Lainey+Swag by Paula Stokes.