Friday, 3 July 2015

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Publication Date: November 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Review Copy

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Fifteen-year-old Frankie Landau-Banks has grown up a lot over the summer. She's no longer daddy's little girl - and almost immediately after starting the new semester at her highly prestigious school, she bags goofy-but-gorgeous Matthew Livingston as her boyfriend. They get along great but then Frankie discovers that Matthew is a member of a boys-only secret society that specialise in 'hilarious' pranks. Which hardly seems fair... especially when Frankie knows she's smarter than any of its members. And to prove this, she's going to teach them a lesson.

Impersonating lead member Alpha by using a fake email account is surprisingly easy, and soon Frankie is setting the boys up with all sorts of ridiculous schemes and sending them on wild goose chase after wild goose chase. Alpha's not prepared to lose face and admit it's not him sending the emails - but the fun can't last forever, and soon Frankie will have to choose between what she think she wants, and the reputation she deserves.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy in exchange for a review. 

I recently went to an event with E. Lockhart where she talked about her novels. If you would like to check out my blog post on that, Click Here!

Before reading The Disreputable History Of Frankie Landau-Banks, I had only ever read E. Lockharts We Were Liars and The Boyfriend List. Both novels I enjoyed, so I did go into this novel hoping that I would enjoy it. I read this novel while on my holiday and flew through it.

The novel is centered around our main character Frankie, a fifteen year old girl who has always been looked at as "small" and "innocent" by her family. Frankie attends a prestigious boarding school that her father attended and decided to shed the labels other people have bestowed upon her and to show her true self, to speak her mind and to prove she is a force to be reckoned with. 

Frankie in her own right was nothing short of a wonder. I marveled at her thought process, at how she wrote and spoke her mind and how intelligent she was. The intricate way she planned and plotted things was one of the most interesting aspects of the novel for me. I could feel myself relating somewhat to the labels she encounters and how women are looked at in a different light as they are seen to be, in some areas, less than men. 

Although I loved Frankie, I really did not feel myself becoming attached to any of the other characters in the novel. I felt that some of Frankie's friends and the group of boys she hangs out with sometimes read as very similar characters, so similar that I had to go back to the chapter they were first introduced to find out what made them different. The exception to this being Alpha, who I swung from hating to admiring so often, and Frankie's older sister, Zada, who sadly was not featured in the novel often enough for my liking.

Frankie's boyfriend, Matthew, was a character I really felt no emotion for. I did not hate him but I also did not like him. I'm not sure if this was intentional as the novel focuses around Frankie's strong ambition to infiltrate the male dominated secret society, or if I felt this way because even though Matthew cares for Frankie he does not encourage or allow her to show the ability she has and sticks to the gender discrimination of his clique. 

E. Lockharts writing style is something that I find to be very distinctive. The third person past tense reads in a very straight forward way that often reads as cold when other authors write this way, but Lockhart's is different. I felt myself becoming disconnected with the novel at times because of the setting and the abundant privilege the characters live with, but I still enjoyed the novel. The extensive research Lockhart had done into secret societies was obvious and added a very real element to the novel.

The narrative voice in this novel is something I loved. I loved the feminist tone to this novel and how much I was rooting for Frankie to show everyone that they should not underestimate her. This novel was one I will remember and recommend to my friends looking for YA novels with feminist themes, gender politics, funny scenes and a great narrative voice. 

Favourite Quote: 

"It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people."

Song that reminded me of this novel:   Courtney Barnett -  Pedestrian At Best 
"I like you despise you admire you what are we gonna do when everything all falls through I must confess I've made a mess of what should be a small success but I digress at least I've tried my very best"

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