Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on March 24th 2015
Also by this author: The Key to Everything
Format: eBook (362 pages) • Source: Owned
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For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.
I totally thought The Art of Lainey would be my first Paula Stokes book because, c’mon, it’s right up my alley. I ended up adding this one to the poll for my YA book club and it was chosen for March’s read. I finished the book within two sittings – it was super fast but unfortunately predictable for me.
I always say that I’m terrible about guessing mysteries, but that’s changed recently. Maybe I’m reading too many books like this (even though it doesn’t feel that way) or I’m too comfortable with YA. All of the YA mystery/thrillers I read tend to follow a similar formula and I find myself guessing whodunit without much thought. I know I’m not the target age for them necessarily, so I hope teens have a better time with them! I said during my reading progress on Goodreads that it’s always hard to believe YA mysteries because it just doesn’t feel logical that teens are this involved in murder mysteries. Brittany said it better over here too.
The story set-up was kind of cool too. The book started at the end-ish, then jumped to the beginning to backtrack, then went back to the end. I liked that it started the story with a “bang” (haha, literally). That always adds some intrigue to stories for me.
Anyways, yeah – this one was too predictable for me. I skimmed a few reviews on Goodreads and it seems like most people were surprised by the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get things 100% right, but I was about 90% of the way there unfortunately. It’s hard to rate a mystery highly when you figure out the mystery that easily. View Spoiler »I assumed that Preston was actually Adam and that his “parents” stole him because their other baby died somehow. I also predicted Preston/Adam was the boy in Max’s adoption story – Max’s adoptive parents chose him over the other little boy they were planning to adopt. I didn’t expect Preston/Adam to be alive though. « Hide Spoiler I had to round down a little with my rating because I enjoyed the book overall, but being able to guess all of that made it a bit more boring for me.
I enjoyed it while reading for sure! It was fun and I liked the characters’ backstories. Max was adopted (two adoption-related books read in one week for me!) and had a sad history with running away and homelessness. Parvati was a cool character too; I thought their forbidden relationship was fun to read about and they seemed good together. I don’t think the characters were developed well enough for my liking though, overall.
I also thought there were mini plot holes in places – some characters thrown in as red herrings but then never brought up again, even though there could have just been a sentence wrapping it up. View Spoiler »I think the Jacobsen twins were thrown in to make people think maybe they had it out for Preston and killed him. They implied some bad things about him to Max but the meaning was never explained later. So they just hated him? They knew his secret? I don’t know, I just wanted some closure or to learn what they meant when they had that conversation with Max. « Hide Spoiler
A few other things that really bugged me: Max lied to the cops at first to cover up for Preston. I can kind of see why he did that, but if MY best friend went missing after I made up a story for them, I would come clean ASAP! I mean, their life is at stake. Whatever they wanted to do in Vegas is way less of a big deal than the fact that they could be kidnapped or dead. He should have thought that out a little more, especially because he was a suspect! In addition, his constant remarks about Pavarti not being like other girls totally made me roll my eyes. God, I hate that line. There is nothing wrong with being like other girls. There’s nothing wrong with girls in general. It’s something stupid guys say as a compliment that isn’t really a compliment. I said in a status update, “If I have to hear him say how she’s “not like other girls” because she “doesn’t like all of that girly stuff” again, my eyes will roll out of my head.” Just a personal pet peeve of mine.
So yeah, overall… not a favorite. I’m glad that it was easy to read and kept me engaged, but it sucks that I was able to figure out all of the twists.
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