Thursday, 22 September 2011

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks 
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: March 25th, 2008
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

When Frankie Landau-Banks was a freshman at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, she was a geeky member of the Debate Club and the kind of girl that was easy to forget. Over the summer between freshman and sophomore years, Frankie becomes someone who boys can’t help but take notice of. And her crush, Matthew Livingston, is no exception. As sophomore year starts, Frankie begins dating Matthew, who is clever, handsome and charmingly goofy. She becomes an honorary member of Matthew’s group of friends, without fully belonging. While Matthew thinks that she is adorable, Frankie feels that he underestimates her. When she learns that Matthew and his friends are part of a secret society called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, it feels like just another male exclusive group that Frankie will never be a part of. Lead partly by an urge to prove herself, Frankie becomes the mastermind behind the Order’s pranks. This is the story of her transformation from a geeky and overlooked freshman to a pranking mastermind.

Have you ever read a book and felt like it was written just for you? That’s how I felt about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I adore this book. I started reading it with an idea of what it was going to be like, and it rose above any of my expectations. I was expecting some stereotypical rich kids, lots of focus on boys and crushes and an overall forgettable novel. This book was nothing like I imagined. I fell in love with the writing style from chapter one. Told in the third person past tense, the writing style reminds me of books like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. For me, the writing was the first sign that this book was going to be something special. The second sign was the main character, Frankie. She’s brilliant, she’s a strategist, and she’s feisty. She sets out to change things at her prestigious boarding school and makes a stand in a big way. I just love her. In other reviews, some people have been complaining about Frankie being too perfect, since she’s pretty and basically a genius. I think that by the end of the novel it’s clear that Frankie is flawed; Matthew even goes as far as to call her a psychopath. A lot of novels I’ve read are about average girls, but it is fun to read about clever and out of the ordinary characters. People are quick to call them ‘Mary Sues’, but there are people who are attractive and smart in real life. It does happen.

As for this book being written for me, I felt like this because it had so many things I love in it. A boarding school, brilliant pranks, some feminism, a secret society, smart characters and a great heroine. I loved the style of the novel as a whole, and I thought that it was smart and thoughtful. It took a while for the plot to pick up, but there was enough going on that that didn’t matter to me. Frankie’s pranks were my favourite part of the novel, since they were not only hilarious but also stood for something bigger. Plus I love a little rule breaking.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is now one of my favourite YA novels. It was unique and fun, and I loved the main character. I was actually surprised by how much I loved this book and how it rose above any of my expectations. Lockhart tackles some complex issues, such as gender roles and patriarchy. It left me with a lot to think about. With an awesome protagonist, some cleverly planned out pranks and a bit of rebellion, this book was better than I could have ever imagined.


“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.”

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