Review: The Art of Lainey (The Art of Lainey #1) by Paula Stokes

Title: The Art of Lainey (The Art of Lainey #1)
Author: Paula Stokes
Publication date: May 20th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
My rating: 3 of 5 Stars

SUMMARY (from 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?

MY THOUGHTS

The Art of Lainey is a very cute and adorable book. But don’t wait for depth; it was a book for entertainment mostly. In my opinion it could be so much better.
Our main character Lainey is a popular soccer star; she dates popular jock Jayson and is friends with his sister Kendall. When Jason suddenly breaks up with her at her work for all her coworkers to see, Lainey is devastated. But she doesn’t give up. With the help from her friend Bianca and a copy of The Art of War she tries to get Jason back. She makes a deal with her coworker Micah to fake-date so they can win back their exes. One of my problems with this book was an emotional detachment. I found it difficult to connect with Lainey. She was a little bit shallow and too fixated on Jason to see good things and new possibilities around her. Though she grows throughout the story I didn’t care for her much.
Big part of the book consists of references to The Art of War, by the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. While many readers find it interesting I didn’t like it. It felt forced to me and I think the book would be better without it. Though many readers admit that The Art of War was the reason they’d picked The Art of Lainey out of curiosity. So maybe it was the author’s purpose.
Our love interest, Micah is not your typical bad boy. He has tattoos, piercing, mohawk and he smokes. At the same time he is sweet and has a great sense of humor, he cares about his mother and little sister and he wants to go to a cooking school. He is so different from the majority of bad boys in YA. I mean a tall muscular guy with tattoos and bad attitude, often with controlling and anger issues, whose abs make our heroine drool and lust after him. No-no! Micah doesn’t works out, he is lean, and Lainey is taller than Micah. So I found Micah very refreshing. But I think Mycah is underdeveloped. I wanted to know more about his past, about his father. It was as if his problems were only sketched.
Unfortunately, the romance didn’t work for me. I really appreciate that there wasn’t insta-love and their relationship progressed from mutual dislike to friendship to romance slowly. I liked the funny banter between Layney and Micah. Then what’s wrong? I think it is lack of chemistry. Of course there were several swoony scenes, but it wasn’t enough for me. One of my favorite fake-relationship books comes to mind. I mean Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne, where the chemistry between the main characters was palpable. There was also great build-up and anticipation. I know it is probably unfair to compare these two books; I only made this example to illustrate what I wanted from the romance in The Art of Lainey.
Also I thought The Art of Lainey would be not only a love story, but a coming of age, finding oneself story. Maybe it would sound harsh, but in the end it was all about choosing instead of a popular, athletic and rich, though not very bright Jason, not so popular, lean, poor, but smart and funny Mycah. What about self-discovery? Isn’t a little bit shallow?
My other complaint is that by the end of the book so many plot lines were unfinished: her relationship with Kendall and Jason, her decision about college.
The Art of Lainey also has some great stuff. This book is very sex-positive. Layney has sex, she likes sex and she discusses it with her friends. I especially liked her mother’s reaction on Layney’s sex life. I think every teenager wants to have such an understanding parent. Actually I liked how parents are portrayed here. They are realistic and present in her life. Of course there are topics Lainey as a teenager is not happy to discuss with her parents, such as sex, but it is obvious they love her and care about her. I also liked relationship between siblings. I mean Micah’s sister and Lainey’s brother. It’s obvious they were close and supportive of each other. Another great thing is Lainey’s relationship with her best friend Bianca. They don’t keep secrets; they are very supportive and help each other in crisis.
Despite all my complaints The Art of Lainey wasn’t a bad book. I give it 3 Stars and for me it is a positive rating. If you want to read a fluffy book with different bad-boy hero and funny banters between main characters, and of course fake-relationship check it out.

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