Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of LaineyGenres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Release DateMay 20, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of pages: 384
Source: ARC from Edelweiss (Thank you, HarperTeen!)
Check out on 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?


Let’s be honest here. When I first read the blurb, the first question that popped into my head was: How will Paula Stokes incorporate The Art of War into the story without making it tacky and unrealistic? That’s right–I wasn’t very curious about the romance. I was curious about The Art of War.

Now that leads to my first problem. The girls’ usage of The Art of War to win back Lainey’s ex felt really forced to me. It was just as if her friend came up to her saying, “Hey! Let’s use this ancient book with totally usable tips to win back your ex!” Um, okay then. I get that her friend had a reason to use it, but it didn’t feel realistic at all.

Now that I finally got that off my chest, let’s talk about Lainey. While I did find it easy to connect with Lainey, it took me a while to actually like her. She was kind of petty and a bit of a brat at first. A bit shallow, even. By the end of the book, her character did grow, and it’s always great to see some character development throughout the book.

But of course, Lainey did have some redeeming qualities. For example, she admitted to things that most of us wouldn’t, but we all know are true. If you don’t get what I mean, take this quote as an example:

“But the reality is that everyone cares about what some people think.”

Let’s get into the love interest, which I know you’re all pretty curious about. The love interest in this one is Micah, who I found to be totally different from most of the other heroes we encounter in YA. For one thing, Micah smokes. And he has a mohawk. Now, while I did love how unique Micah’s character was, I found him to be just a tad bit boring. He was sweet sometimes, sure, but I wasn’t sold on his character.

The actual romance was pretty cute and had a slow build up which I really appreciated. Lainey and Micah were both so shippable (don’t judge my poor wording) with their adorable banter and interactions.

The best part of the book would have to be the friendship between Lainey and her best friend, Bianca. Really, this is how best friends should act. No matter how many stupid choices Lainey made, Bianca stood by her and even helped her accomplish her stupid plans. There was so much love and support between them that I was surprised neither of them have exploded with support overdose or something.  I mean, look at this:

“Any crisis of mine is a crisis of hers, and vice versa. That’s just how we roll.”

Paula Stokes also had this very easy to get into writing style that made the book flow smoothly for me. But if we’re being honest, I didn’t really get a lot of feels from this book.

So basically, if you’re up for a cute read and wouldn’t mind how badly The Art of War was incorporated into the story (from my viewpoint, at least), you should give this one a shot. Seriously, it was fluff overload.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.1
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Aimee is a sixteen year old bookworm from the Phillipines! She reads any book that catches her attention, but she mostly reads YA. She's into graphic design, writing and sleeping. You can find her at Deadly Darlings, The Book Geek, Goodreads and on Twitter.

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  1. says

    Oh darn, I was really hoping you would like this one more. I have seen so many great reviews but it sounds like maybe the protagonist isn’t as lovable as some of them made her out to be. I think I will still be reading this one because I need to find out for myself what all the fuss is about.

    Great hones review!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Push by Eve SilverMy Profile

  2. says

    So that’s why it’s called The Art of Lainey! I seriously never read the blurb and never got the meaning behind that title. It sounded weird to me and it still was until I read that The Art of War is in the book. Now that title makes sense.

    I personally never would have tried it because it sounds like a recipe for failure. I seriously doubt anyone would take advice from an old war book translated from Chinese centuries back. That whole aspect definitely has me going all, “What?”

    Like, I can already guess that it’s not going to be all out fabulous.
    Shannelle C. recently posted…The Perkins Project!My Profile

    • Aimee says

      Ha! xD

      Yes, exactly! Which is why I was so curious to read this. The girls treated the book too much as an ancient book–Lainey especially.

  3. says

    I’ve been seeing this book around but this is just the first time I actually took the time to read a review.. and not to my surprise it sounds like this isn’t exactly my type of story. It sounds like it’s one of those contemporary novels I’d rather skip (for now, perhaps, since I’m being choosy with my contemporary reads)..
    czai recently posted…[REVIEW] The GiverMy Profile

    • Aimee says

      There is a lot of hype behind this one, and I guess I can see why a lot of readers really liked this one. It just wasn’t a hit with me. :(

  4. says

    I actually read the blurb to this book and really did think that it wouldn’t be for me, but now after reading so many reviews, I really wished that I hadn’t passed up the opportunity to give this book a go. I definitely need some fluff in my life amongst all the heartbreaking reads I tend to be reading. So glad that you enjoyed this overall Aimee!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Sun-Kissed by Laura FlorandMy Profile

    • Aimee says

      Haha! Originally, I didn’t think it’d be my type of read either. But I was just so curious and… well, the hype. I hope you enjoy this one when you get around to reading it, Jasprit!

  5. says

    I really enjoyed this one but I also understand what stopped you from loving it. I found Lainey especially hard t like at first she was just so full of herself! But I found she got more likeable as the book progressed, and regardless I found she was realistic. I’ve known girls in HS who reacted the same way to a break-up so there is that. I adored Micah! I didn’t find him boring but he was very interesting/unique as a character to me. I loved that he didn’t give a crap what people thought and refused to change or become a chameleon to fit in. I thought that was refreshing. And yes friendship was the best part for me as well I adored Bianca!!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Torn Away by Jennifer BrownMy Profile

    • Aimee says

      I’m glad you enjoyed it more than I did, Giselle! I can see why a lot of people grew into Lainey’s character. She did develop throughout the book. :) Micha… well, maybe I’m just weird. :P

  6. says

    LOL when I first read the blurb for this book I had to google The Art of War twice as I knew of it but I wondered how could you put that into romance. There goes my answer. I don’t wanna imagine that girl as captain or something. I’m glad that romance and friendship are really good here, but I don’t think Lainey and I would be a good friends. Great review! :)
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  7. says

    Now I want to read about the friendship between Lainey and Bianca!! Thanks for sharing your view about the characters and the plot – I’ll keep in mind that this is more a fluffy summer-read.
    Henrietta recently posted…Reborn – C C HunterMy Profile

  8. says

    The friendship dynamic sounds great at least, plus it’s always nice to see something like that in YA. And the guy is still boring even with a mohawk? Shame on him. ;) I’ve never even heard of the Art of War so maybe the references wouldn’t bother me as much? Glad the romance was cute though!
    Alise recently posted…What’s a Spoiler?My Profile

    • Aimee says

      You’ve never heard of the Art of War? Well, okay, I guess that makes sense. :) Ha! Everyone else seems to love Micah and his mohawk, though! :p

  9. Vivien says

    Great review! I’ve seen so many positive reviews for this one that it’s refreshing to read a more mixed review. I’m still really eager to read this one. Glad to hear you did enjoy it overall though.