***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
This book is special indeed. After all the hype surrounding this book, I dived in expecting to be thoroughly charmed but I wasn’t. At least not at first. I liked it, I enjoyed it but I didn’t see why everyone loved it so much until a certain moment near the end. That's what made this book so brilliant and awesome and fantastic and I am running out of adjectives since my vocabulary is limited. So now I find myself in a dilemma. I cannot even begin describing this book (although I just did, so I am contradicting myself) and the affect it had on me.
For starters, if you read The Art of Lainey and are going in expecting something as fluffy and fun, turn around and rethink whether you want to read this book because fluffy it is not. It’s clever and witty and poignant and oh so brilliant. As you can see, I cannot stop singing this book praises, even though it wasn’t perfect and I had issues with it. ALL THE FEELS you see. All the feels. It’s becoming hard not to ramble but I shall get my shit together and write this review down anyway.
Max is a great main character. His voice shines out and he actually sounds his age! Surprise! He underestimates himself and has self-doubt but at the same time, they don’t weigh him down! There are things he believes, even if he shouldn’t, and until given proof, he won’t change his mind. He has his stupid moments, quite a few of them to be honest, but he has so many other positive qualities. I love his loyalty and I love the growth he undergoes over the course of the book, the things he realizes about himself and his family. It’s a beautiful journey.
For the most part, neither of his friends did anything for me but I grew to like Parvati more over the course of the book as we got to know her better. I have to give Paula credit though, she characterizes the friends really well. They may be fishy and I had some moments where I felt some very strong emotions towards them but at the same time, I had this need to know more about them and why they were the way they were. I just wish Max had been smarter about the two and had realized early on that they weren’t the best of friends.
The mystery in this book is so intricately developed.Not that the direction was predictable or unpredictable but the thing is that Stokes does it well. I spend a good chunk of the book trying to figure out what she was trying to do. I had ideas but at the same time, given how she had developed certain things, I wasn’t sure what route she’d go down so when Stokes chose the one I had only guessed at, I was surprised but delightfully so (if you were nearby you might have heard me irrupting into a chorus of ‘I KNEW IT!’ and awkwardly attempting to jump up and down while lying on my bed). What made the ‘twist’ work so well in this case was that the author set things up for it. If you were looking in the right places, you would have seen it coming. It’s not predictable but it’s not random and therein lies it’s beauty.
There is a bit of a romance in this book but it’s done so realistically. This book is so sex positive and that makes me happy. I may not have been shipping this ship hard at the beginning but you betcha by the end of the book, I wanted the two to sort things out. I do admit that at learning certain things, I had hoped for a little bit more anger but that’s probably just my bloodthirsty nature talking (and I do love me a good grovelling).
This is a gorgeously written book that will keep you on your toes and will keep you guessing but it’s more than just a mystery. It’s about friendship, lies, families, making the right choices and learning to love yourself. Really, it’s a fabulous book and one I’d urge anyone looking for something gritty to read.