Note: Football/Soccer related GIF will make an appearance in this review. You're welcome.
Expected publication: May 20th, 2014
Published by: HarperTeen
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?
There's something you need to know about me before you read any further: I LOVE FOOTBALL (aka soccer). A lot. Almost as much as I love reading. Why am I telling you this? Because the fact that our main character Lainey is not only a football/soccer star but she's also not described as the stereotypical "sporty type" had me doing cartwheels and hugging my kindle so hard that I almost exploded into rainbows.
Lainey Mitchell is a really fun character. At the beginning of the novel, she's a shallow, popular girl--almost reminiscent of Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse--whose goals in life are to play soccer and to get her ex-boyfriend Jason back. This leaves so much room for character development and Paul Stokes definitely takes advantage of it. I loved reading about Lainey's journey and how it changes her for the better. Most of the time women athletes are depicted as manly but that's not the case here. I can't tell you how much I appreciated that. Yes, football/soccer is Lainey's life. Yes, she's still a girl (a very feminine one at that) and that's awesome! Stokes deserves a million kitties for that.
As much as I loved Micah, I'm not going to talk about him. Oh, no. I won't mention his charm or his hilarious comments. I won't even tell you how much I want him in my life or the fact that I would read an entire book dedicated to him. I want to focus on the other boy in our main character's life. My favorite part is how much I hated Jason. He's obviously wrong for Lainey and everyone can see that but her. You how terrible he is from the very beginning, which makes Lainey's attempt to get him back a lot more frustrating. I just wanted Jason to get out of the way so Micah could be the last man standing.
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I loved the way Paula Stokes modernized The Art of War and how seamlessly it was incorporated into the novel. The writing is very descriptive and fun which makes this book one of those you can't stay away from for long. I particularly loved that the dialogue was believable and hilarious. The bickering between Lainey and Micah is one of my favorite aspects of the novel and one that a lot of people will enjoy. Their relationship develops in a very natural way so their dynamic changes as the novel progresses. They take each other out of their comfort zones and that connection elevates the novel to something more than just a cute high school romance. Stokes also does a great job with her secondary characters. From Lainey's best friend to Micah's sister, every character has a place and a story. Overall, every aspect of the story worked really well together to create a very enjoyable novel.