Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: Art of Lainey

Release Date: May 20, 2014
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 384 pages

"A satisfying and sweet story." -Publishers Weekly

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?



Protagonist: At the beginning of this book I didn't like Lainey very much, in fact I may or may not have hated her. So the logical conclusion would be to almost instantly DNF this. A bad protagonist usually equals a bad book, but my curiosity was piqued as to haw she would develop. She begins as a stereotypical popular girl in her high school, soccer star, dating "the hottest most popular boy in school," and seemingly liked by everyone in school. After her boyfriend Jason dumps her, in her parent's coffee shop no less, she's utterly lost. Granted she doesn't go full Bella Swan, but she does say a few times that she doesn't know how to live her life without being Jason Chase's girlfriend, which sounds all sort of pathetic if you ask me. Luckily though she develops in probably the best way possible. Through her own strength and a magnificent support team, at the head of which is, probably my favorite character, Bianca, she begins to learn not only who she is but gains a sense of independence that doesn't stem from being anyone's girlfriend.

Romance: That being said there is a great romance in this book as well. Part of me doesn't want to label this romance as a love triangle, not only due to the negative connotations given to that romantic trope, but also because it's the type of triangle that you shouldn't take seriously. It's incredibly obvious who Lainey will "choose" which in no way takes out the fun of watching this story unfold. The chemistry between Lainey and Micah is my favorite kind, one grown out of trading barbs and constantly teasing each other, which eventually turns good-natured but never really goes away. Jason is a constant tool and thorn in the side of the book, and makes for a great contemporary "villain" even though that word is a bit hard for him.

Story-Building: One of the things I loved about this book was how the author mixed a classic text like the Art of War into this contemporary YA novel. At the beginning of each chapter is a small quote from the book that relates to the chapter in some way and in addition to that it also helps readers who can't quite make out exactly what Sun Tzu is saying (guilty) understand the text better. This is in no way a substitute for the text and shouldn't be used as one but it helps enrich the story and bring it to life. Speaking of bringing the story to life let's talk about my favorite character for a second. Bianca is the kind of friend everyone, regardless of gender, needs. She's loyal to a tee and will help you no matter how crazy you sound. While it's obvious after a while that Bianca isn't the biggest fan of Jason she still help Lainey out with her insane quest to get him back, though when opportunity presents itself she, in true Sun Tzu fashion, steers Lainey to the better choice without actually taking any of the choice away from Lainey.

Predictability: So this book has many of the tropes of a classic romantic comedy movie. It's very predictable, but in a good way kind of more reliable than cheesy, but it does have a few surprising moments. The end for one was very surprising and while it may have been something I saw coming due to foreshadowing, I got so caught up in the story that it completely caught me off guard. There are also some smaller twist that happened while I got caught up in the story that excited me to no end to find.

Ending: Like I said the ending was very unpredictable partly because I was so caught up in the story and partly because the foreshadowing hadn't really been pushed closer to the ending but it was something that was inevitable with all the prior foreshadowing. However, it also happened in such away that I would have never expected. It was hilarious, heart pounding, and probably one of the best scenes I've ever read. Now I bet you're all dying to know what I'm talking about. *laughs mechanically* Read the book it's fantastic.


So I had actually planned on giving this book 4.5 stars but as I was writing the review it changed. This book is fantastic, but it's definitely something you have to stick with if you don't like Lainey at first, but by the end she's a great character and her story sends a good message. This book isn't for everyone, if you're not the type who likes romantic comedies this book is definitely not for you as reading this book is like reading a great RomCom.

About the Author:

Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She started out writing historical fiction under a pen name and is now branching out into other YA genres.
When she's not working (rare), she's kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She's petted tigers, snuggled snakes, snorkeled with stingrays, and once enjoyed the suction-cuppy feel of a baby elephant's trunk as it ate peanuts from her palm. Her future goals include diving with Great White sharks, learning Krav Maga, and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.

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