Monday, March 7, 2016

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

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1 January 2008
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father's 'bunny rabbit'. A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder.

And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau-Banks: No longer the kind of girl to take 'no' for an answer. Especially when 'no' means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew's lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.
(summary from Goodreads)

That right there is all you really need to sum up my feelings about this book. Seriously. If I hadn't have been reading an eBook version, I would've definitely tossed it. Through a window even. I feel a lot of rage for this book but I'm trying to put it all into words for this review. Fair warning though, it might not be pretty. Look, right up, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a book club pick for the theme 'anti-romance' which automatically put it in a bad way because it is not anti-romance. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The first third of this book is Frankie despairing about whether the cute popular boys like her and it is, plainly, pathetic. These boys are entitled, manipulative douchebags, so I'm not sure how we were ever meant to root for a romance?! But then The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks picks up. Frankie discovers the Basset Hounds, an all boys secret society and she anonymously takes over, planning and executing a series of pranks in their name and it is brilliant. See, Frankie is about the only great thing about this book. And that's a reach too. She is clever, sassy and hilarious - at times. I admit, at other times she really got on my nerves. When it came to romance she was whiny and irritating. And her made up words got tiresome real quick. It's only clever if you're being funny and intentionally getting the words wrong to be funny. It is absolutely not clever when you believe you're right but are actually so, so wrong! Frankie bounces between intelligent and downright stupid and insipid. But those pranks! Here Lockhart delves into feminism, social activism, politics and patriarchy, and through it The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks had the potential to be affirming, inspiring, meaningful and all round amazing. A stand was being made here! Frankie, a mere girl, was going to show up this undeserving, sit back and drink beer and eat chips but get a great career and life simply because they're white, rich and male and have the right connections, boys group. Holy shit! For a moment there I was sure I was going to end up loving this book. If I could overlook the romance, of course. But Lockhart chickens out. And here is where I go with the book tossing. In one foul swoop she makes all that epic social commentary meaningless, pointless and this book utterly worthless. Lockhart makes all of her characters dumb. No, I mean it. Every single one of them? Dumb. None of them get the deeper meaning of Frankie's pranks. They simply don't get it. Not even her sister, a psychology student who consistently offered fantastic insight throughout the book, gets it. And then the worst happens. Frankie's answer to her motivation? "I don't know." After all that, Frankie ends up wishing she'd never heard of the Basset Hounds or orchestrated these pranks because GASP - now Matthew and the other douchebags don't like her. I fucking kid you not. I don't know if Lockhart just wasn't brave enough to make such a socially aware and feminist statement in the end, but whatever the reason, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks suffers big time. It's ultimate lesson is "girls, don't be smart, determined and political because then boys won't like you. And that sucks." Yeah, no. This book is what sucks. I had planned to give The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks a two star review as at times Lockhart's writing is clever, humourous and a little genius. But I can't forgive the cop out. I just can't do it. I'm too disappointed and disgusted. I hate this book and my rating needs to reflect that. 


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  1. It’s nice to find someone else who didn’t like this book. The characters got on my nerves, too.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I'm glad to know you didn't like it either! There's just so much raving about this book, and seriously, I don't get it! Each to their own, I guess. Thanks, AJ.