Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula Stokes

Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Publication date: April , 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

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?

Take away my contemporary-romance-lover card away all you want, but I just didn't get it. I didn't get THIS. This book, The Art of Lainey, and why everyone was going all cuckoo for cocoa puffs on this. There were certain things happening in this book that kept me from loving it, opposite of what I see most people felt like. It was enjoyable to read, but I had way too many issues with it to love it as much as I thought I should have. 

Here's a quick rundown of what I loved: Bianca, somewhat Micah, semi-enjoyable read, and...oh, wait, that's it. Bianca wasn't present in this as much as she should've been in my opinion because she was a great best friend. However, I was completely confused at her behavior. When Jerky Jason dumps Annoying Lainey and she gets the bright idea to text him immediately, stalk him, and bemoans the fact that she has no identity without him, Bianca is there to tell her that she's crazy. But then suddenly, BIANCA is the one who suggests using Sun Tzu's book to win him back. EXCUSE ME? 

Bianca, honey, what happened to your brain? I get that they're best friends. I also understand that she might've been trying to shut Lainey up for once, but there are other ways. Bianca could've suggested a short plan that will get Lainey to crash and burn faster than a long one. I didn't understand why Bianca was suddenly helping her best friend and why Lainey was so attached to him when NOBODY likes the guy. Unless it was coming from Lainey, I didn't hear one nice thing about Jerky Jason. Nada. GIRL, LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. 

And that's another problem. Jerky Jason dumped Annoying Lainey and Lainey's biggest issue was that she wasn't "complete" without him and that she couldn't possibly survive three weeks, much less all year, without him or talking to him or staring at him and no touching. THE HORROR. She repeatedly talked about how despite her fabulousness, she didn't know who she was without Jerky Jason. 

Of course, she's also best friends with Jerky Jason's horribly nasty and selfish sister. Lainey, I beg of you to just look at your choices in life. You say you feel incomplete in life without him, but NO STOP. In fact, if I could rate who I was most annoyed with, it would start with Lainey, then Jason, then his sister. Lainey had all the evidence in front of her about how silly she was acting about her so-called perfect ex-boyfriend and still denied the truth. Micah was refreshing at times, but I didn't clamor over him because he displayed some jerky tendencies as well. 

"But wait, didn't you say it was an enjoyable read?" It a sick sense, it really was. I actually kept forgetting I had it on my iPad (shows you how memorable it was), but once I picked up where I last left off, it sucked me in. It's one of those books that makes you relaxed while reading, but you're not getting anything beneficial out of it and you have a not-so-good aftertaste. I can easily think of several food metaphors but I'll spare you.

I wanted to like it. It had the great fake dating plot, a punk baker, and a great best friend. But I hated reading about a self-centered, obsessive girl trying to win back her jerky boyfriend with the help of a funny, yet sometimes rude boy as she makes frequent insults about her coworkers and others. The synopsis sounded fun. It sounded perfect for a contemporary lover like me. We just didn't mesh.

Verdict: I can only hope that a different Paula Stokes will be better. 


  1. Ugh, I think one of the #1 things that annoys me in books is when the main character won't let go of a boy that is a jerk, and keeps talking about how she needs him and she isn't able to go on without the guy. :( I want to try this book eventually, but I know I need to go into it now expecting that.

    1. It was still cute, but I'm with you, that's one of my pet peeves and I couldn't support the MC, which is a must for me. Disappointing.

  2. Judging by your review (I haven't read the book), I don't think I would like it either. I mean, I'm all for unlikeable/controversial MCs, but this one sounds like the kind where all you want to do is drive her in the other direction. Which will not happen, so it makes you close the book. Not exactly the effect that authors are going for.
    Well, as much as I myself know contemporary, I would have to agree with you there.

    1. Unfortunately, yes. I like controversial MCs, but I think it's a whole 'nother thing when the author tries to make them likable, but they're really unlikable. Unintentionally unlikeable is the worst!

  3. I'm reading this right now, so I only skimmed your review... but I'm really enjoying it. I can see you have a few issues with you, which is totally understandable. Maybe I'll have to come back after I'm done reading and we can discuss. Right now though, I'm around 35% and it's just a cute, fun story that I'm really enjoying. :) I'll be back. ;)

    1. I hope you will be back! I want to discuss :)

    2. Hi! So I posted me review yesterday. I really enjoyed it actually. It was definitely what I was in the mood for... Just a light, cute read with an adorable mohawky boy. :)

  4. This is exactly how I fear I will feel about the book. A lot of people have been able to overlook Lainey's cluelessness and her obsession with her jerk ex-boyfriend, but it's the kind of thing that will derive me nuts. I worry about my own sanity while I read it. Especially since I heard she doesn't really get over Jason until about 75% of the way in. YEESH.

    Anyway, great review! When I get around to reading it, I might just feel the same way. ;)

  5. Based on your review, I doubt I would like this book either. I can overlook a lot of annoyances while reading, but a character saying she is incomplete without her boyfriend is not one of them. I can't help thinking that this book would be a lot more appealing if Lainey were using tips from The Art of War to get revenge on Jason rather than chasing him like her life depends on him. It's too bad Paula Stoke's debut didn't work for you, but her second novel is supposed to be dramatically different and a lot darker, so hopefully that style will be more successful.

  6. Aw, I'm sorry this one disappointed you, Summer. I actually thought it was really adorable, once you got past that jerk Jason and his equally annoying sister. Have you read Shut Out by Kody Keplinger? It uses The Art of War as the basis for its story, too. I enjoyed The Art of Lainey quite a bit more, but I think based on your review, you might enjoy the other book better.