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All’s Fair in Love and War | Book Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey is an entertaining romp with boyfriend re-stealing and ancient Chinese military tactics.

Book Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

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the art of lainey paula stokes book review

Title & Author: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Release Date: May 20, 2014

Series: Standalone

Publisher: HarperTeen

How I Got the Book: Advanced reader copy


“Because you’re a fan of dystopia, I think the interesting premise of this book will hook you right away. The Earth is being attacked and only the lucky are surviving. There is a ton of delicious tension and a dash or romance. I think you’ll be hooked!

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?”

All is Fair in Love and War

The Art of Lainey is the type of book that looks like it’s fun and romantic. Although that’s definitely true (it’s hilarious and has plenty of high school hijinks), this book has a lot of heart as well.

Lainey is a girl who loves her life. She’s got great friends, she’s a rock star on the soccer field and her boyfriend is the hottest guy in school.

Then everything falls a part when her boyfriend publicly and suddenly dumps her. That’s when Lainey begins to realize that everything that glittered was not gold.

I really loved how as the reader you saw and realized the truth of the situation along with Lainey. She is discovering things about herself and others along the way, and it was really rewarding to see her journey of self-discovery.

Plus, using the classic techniques found in The Art of War was just priceless. Who knew Ganghis Khan was so relevant to teenage girls?!

Get ready to swoon, too. Micah – the fake boyfriend – is all kinds of adorable and wounded and confused. He’s a great character to root for.

The only thing I would comment on is that Lainey and her bestie Bianca fail the Bechdel test. To be fair, most actual teen girls would fail this test too, but I wish there had been a bit more balance to their conversations (poor Bianca doesn’t get the limelight too much).

Lastly, I love how despite some brief lapses, Lainey is really a very confident girl. I love seeing that portrayed in YA especially. She’s talented and she knows it and that’s great. Love to see it.


The silly high school fun of this book is balanced with the bigger issues of self-discovery and independence. I loved how the author paired these ideas and gave readers characters who you could root for. The Art of Lainey is a great book to escape with.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • That’s awesome! This is one of the books that has been on my radar for a while, but I just haven’t checked it out. I love when a female protagonist is actually confident and knows she’s awesome. Will have to read.

  • Mawa Mahima

    Hmm, sad that it failed The Bechdel Test (that is one impressive test – so simple yet it produces such shocking answers!). I should do The Bechdel Test on all books I read, I wonder what difference I will see?