Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 384 (eARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
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.
...I'm going to employ the "Art of Lili" here and kindly say that if you don't read this book I may have to kick you. Hard.
Have you ever heard of the term, "people come in and out of your life for a reason"? Whenever something bad happens to me and I find myself trying to piece together what happened, that's the piece of advice that my wise parents always give me. For a while I would just laugh and agree to get them off of my back, but eventually I realized that they were completely right. This book explores this piece of advice to live by to the fullest extent and I loved this underlying message. It made me want to keep reading as Lainey made the slow transition from a shallow, naive soccer player to an open and nonjudgmental kick-butt soccer star. Because of this I can honestly say that this book is worth reading.
I truly believe that this book is a diamond in the rough that can resonate with readers of all ages, though it certainly will mean more to teens because it paints certain expectations so realistically. It tackles the concept of cliques and popularity spot-on without it seeming cliche and controlling. It shows the naivety that comes with first love and what comes after that love is gone. Jealousy, desire...it's all there. The awesome twist of The Art of War thrown in to make sure hilariousness ensues in this super fluffy and cute read that is guaranteed to get any reader out of a reading slump.
The best part of this book is Lainey's best friend, Bee. Bee is a very solid character in the story and she's one of the best BFF's I have come across, perhaps ever. She doesn't judge, she's honest, she's always there for moral support...even if it involves a late night phone call that wakes her up. She's real and any girl today would kill to have her in their life. Lainey is very lucky, though it takes her a while to realize this. It was nice to come across a young adult contemporary novel that isn't full of a revolving door of best friends that come in and out of one's life due to petty drama, though there certainly are some drama queen's in this one. The people she meets when she starts enacting her love-war tactics make up a cast of secondary characters that cannot be rivaled. Really, all characterization (even Lainey's parents! yes!) is A+.
And now to the grand romance! What started off as a fake-date scenario to guarantee that both parties can get their exes back eventually turned into a teenager whirlwind romance full of questions, confusions, and the possibility that a punked-out, tattooed, mohawked rocker with a secret love of cooking pastries may be perfect for the model varsity soccer star that is just now realizing she never really knew herself. Micah and Lainey, oddly enough, are one of my favorite ships of all time. He not only knows how to treat a girl, but he's one of the most sincere characters I've ever come across despite his demeanor. The fact that their coupling is hugely unconventional and unexpected makes me root for them even more. Full of hilarious banter and natural chemistry, Micah and Lainey take us on a journey that makes us question if societal norms and expectations should really rule us.
The only complaint I have about this book is that, at times, I found myself to be frustrated with Lainey's shallowness in the beginning of the book. I understand it was a necessity to show her insanely strong character growth and transformation, but anyone could see how terrible her ex and his sister were. Furthermore, her worries with getting her boyfriend back seemed slightly obsessive at times, which threw off my rhythm because I loved her as a person and didn't want her to obsess over a guy that did not have her best interests at heart and was shallow enough to be won back through jealousy tactics.
In the end, I have to say that this is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in a long time. As a huge fan of Paula's SECRETS OF THE ETERNAL ROSE trilogy, I continue to be satisfied by her amazing storytelling techniques! I definitely can't wait for LIARS, INC.
Warning: There are mentions of underage drinking and illusions to sexual situations in this book. Would not recommend it for younger readers.
FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation in exchange in this honest review.