Release Day Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey
Paula Stokes
Series: Standalone
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4 stars
Word rating: A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
Reviewed by: Ellis

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Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.

Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him...

Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for.

To be honest, I think about The Art of Lainey a lot - and not just because I've been scream-demanding people to read this book immediately for months now, though I'm sure there's proof of that somewhere. I remember I started reading it as a study break book and before I knew it, the abysmal amount of actual studying I did that day served more as a Lainey break than anything else. 

Totally worth it.

This book is so much fun. It's so good that I fully endorse putting all responsible life-ing (ew) on hold to just spend the day immersed in the fabulousness that is Lainey and co. As a matter of fact, I'm still so impressed with this entertaining but realistic novel, a combination that can best be described as "amazing", that I'm bumping up my original 3.5 stars to a full 4.

Totally deserved it.

And now, here are seven reasons why you, too, should take a break from life and focus all your attention on The Art of Lainey:

A is for amazing female friendship

Also known as the Argument I Always Lead With. Unlike so many other YA friendships, Bianca and Lainey are the real deal. Not only do they have loads of fun when they're together, they are also always there for each other and put the other above anyone else. It's nice that Micah comes to support Lainey when she has to face her ex at soccer training, but Bianca is the one who really calms her down when she's nervous. The conversations these two have are things I can see myself talking about with my own friends. They can openly talk about their desires and confusion and the other will listen and try to figure it out with them instead of giving some half-hearted advice. They are each other's biggest cheerleader and when one of them has a momentary confidence crisis, the other will remind her what a fabulous human being she is.

M is for Micah Micah Micah

From his no-nonsense attitude to his inability to pass up an opportunity to snark and/or tease Lainey, Micah is perfection. Besides from the big faking it to get the ex back scheme he agrees to, he isn't really one to play games and say one thing when he means another. He is so comfortable with who he is and what he wants and this undoubtedly has a very positive influence on Lainey. Even when they aren't even friends, he already let's her know that there isn't anything wrong with just being Lainey instead of hot shot Jason's girlfriend. He accepts her, flaws and all, and helps her boost her confidence. At the same time, he's creative when it comes to having a good time. He actually listens to Lainey when she talks about her likes/dislikes and doesn't judge her for it. Also, banter. I did mention Micah was a synonym for perfection, right?

A is for absolutely wonderful personal growth

I had some issues with Lainey in the beginning, but man, did she grow on me. The thing with Lainey is that she constantly measures herself to other people. She sees herself as Kendall's friend, or Jason's girlfriend, but she realises she doesn't really know who she is as a person. That's why Jason dumping her in the beginning of the novel is such a catastrophe for her. As she says herself, he is her whole world. However, Jason being a raging asshole might have been the best thing that has ever happened to her, because it gives her the opportunity to do what she wants to do and come into herself as her own person. I thought using The Art of War as a way to map out Lainey's progress was very clever. She might be reluctantly at first, but she quickly gets genuinely excited about reading The Art of War and plotting out her own schemes and strategies. I have yet to meet the person who didn't absolutely adore Lainey at the end. She has a touch of the dramatics to her, but she knows it, and I love her all the more for it.

Z is for that zuhnuhsaykwa (je ne sais quoi) that keeps you reading

Even though it took a while before Lainey grew on me, there's something that compelled me to keep reading and I'm grateful for that because The Art of Lainey surprised me on so many levels. Maybe it's the fact that even though this is a faking it romance, the characters don't just use each other and then suddenly fall in love. Micah and Lainey both use this game plan of each picking five dates as a way to get to know each other and at least become friends. They genuinely care for each other and like to spend time together. Maybe it's also because it effortlessly sidesteps tropes, such as Lainey inexplicably hating on Amber, Micah's ex, there being a make-over scene of some sorts, or Micah and/or Lainey secretly having been in love with the other since kindergarten and now using this getting back my ex Art of War style business as a way to get closer to the other. No, Micah and Lainey develop feelings for each other because they make the effort to spend time together and get to know the other. None of it is forced, and all of it is heavy on the feels.

I is for the impressive amount of sex-positivity

This book is so completely at ease with all things sex and it's awesome. Lainey and Bianca freely discuss their sex lives and how much they like sex. Lainey shamelessly lusts over Micah when they're at a concert, because really, what even is there to be ashamed of? Even Micah and Lainey casually let it drop in conversation that while they're still attached to their exes on an emotional level, that doesn't mean that they aren't physically attracted to each other. There aren't any explicit sex scenes in the book, which I KNOW WHAT A SHAME LAINEY/MICAH SEX WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING, but it's a very good, healthy and realistic reflections of regular teens - and let's be real, people in general - having sex on the brain.

N is for nuanced characters

So what if Lainey is into shopping and spray-tanning? It doesn't mean she can't be the queen of the soccer field at the same time. So what if Micah has piercings and dyes his hair? It doesn't mean he can't be a master in the kitchen and a kind, supportive and funny guy who loves his family, too. I mean, especially with Micah. His appearance isn't some way of acting out. It's just what he likes and there's nothing wrong with that. And yes, Jason took a trip down asshole lane when dumping Lainey so out of the blue. This isn a so what? because really, Jason, HOW DARE YOU. Now see what you're missing out on and weep. Nevertheless, it's shown later on that he, although, admittedly, sketchy in judgement, does really care for Lainey and that dumping her was the result of an impulsive, hormonal brain fart on his part.

G is for getting creative with romantic gestures

One of my all-time favourite shippy scenes ever - EVER - is when Micah sees Lainey staring at the cookies he just baked, breaks one and is like "whoops broken cookie can't sell that here do you want it?" Not only is it perfectly adorable and adorably perfect, it also gives a good sense of how quick and witty he is as a person. I really like how the story also focuses on the smaller reactions someone you have feelings for can bring out in you. It doesn't always have to be bombastic butterfly attacks. Micah only has to walk into a room and it will bring a smile to Lainey's face. Sure, there is an incredible attraction between these two, but they also like simply being around the other and they make each other happy. I want to see more romances like this one.

!!! is for Get thee to a bookstore or librareeh immediateleeh!!!


  1. This review has me rolling on the floor!

  2. This book is amazing and so is this review. Love what you did with the acronyms.

  3. The cookie thing is one of my favorite scenes from the book! Definitely a must-read for teens and even non-teens! :)
    Divergent Gryffindor


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