The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. LockhartThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion
Number of pages: 342
My copy: hardbound, bought from Fully Booked (on sale!)

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 Laundau-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.

* * *

A few years ago, I watched a lot of TV shows religiously. I don’t know what got me into it, or how I discovered some of them, but I end up having my hard drive full of shows week after week. One of those shows I liked very much (and was still very sad that it had been cancelled too early) was Pushing Daisies. I wasn’t really much into the characters and I was just mildly intrigued by the story. I think the main reason why I liked that show so much was because of the narrator. If you’re not familiar with the show, think of the movie Matilda. They both have that same, amused sounding narrator that guides you in the story, guiding you with the character’s emotions instead of just letting the actors and actresses show you what they’re feeling. It’s not a sign of bad acting, of course, but a clever way of making the story leave more impact, I suppose.

It was exactly that narrator voice that I remembered while reading E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I’ve heard a lot about this book from book blogs, and I was lucky to spot a hardcover copy of this book on the bargain table during one of the Fully Booked sales. This contemporary YA novel tells the story of Frances Rose Landau-Banks, aka Frankie, aka Bunny Rabbit — a 15 year old sophomore in Alabaster Academy. She’s smart, she comes from a rich family and she’s recently grew into her body, earning her a slightly higher physical reputation among the “geeks” that she’s a part of in school.

But Frankie is not just a girl. She’s not just Bunny Rabbit. Frankie doesn’t want to be her boyfriend’s arm candy, even if he is popular and adorable and his kisses could make her weak in the knees. Frankie is determined not to be left out, especially by her boyfriend’s all-male secret society (that is not so secret because her father was a member). Thus starts Frankie’s disreputable history.

Ah, what a fun novel. I liked how smart this book is, with all its grammar geekiness and social terms such as the panopticon and the existence of secret social societies in boarding schools. I loved the entire Alabaster environment, even if it reeked of rich kids whose connections, not necessarily their skills, will make them powerful in the future. I liked how the story progressed, and how everything connected in the end. Because of the style of narration, I felt like I was one step ahead of the story, and I was able to snicker at how some of the characters were so stupid at how Frankie was duping them all.

Frankie and the rest of the characters were fleshed out well, although the way the story was told may hinder the readers from really getting to know the characters. Some people might get turned off with this one, but I liked it. It felt fresh, and despite how the narration kept me at arm’s length with the characters, I still saw them as whole and completely thinking characters. Somehow, the boys in this novel reminded me of the boys in John Green’s Looking for Alaska, sans the massive smoking and more of the geekery. Frankie is such a smart character that I can’t help but wish I was like her when I was younger.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a very, very smart novel, and yeah, a bit feminist, but I don’t think guys would not enjoy this one. I had so much fun reading it that even if I was busy, I always made time to read a few pages of it each that. That, and I was very sad to reach the end of it — it felt like it was too soon, but I think the ending was just right for the story.

I also found this very interesting post about this book at one of the tumblrs I follow, Reasoning with Vampires. This includes some passages from the book, nothing spoilery, and a very good comparison with another popular lead character out there *cough*Bella Swan*cough*. No offense to anyone. :)

From Reasoning with Vampires (reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com)

From Reasoning with Vampires (reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com)

I recommend this book for those who like good contemporary YA novels with smart characters, boarding schools, some grammar geekiness and lots of pranks. :) This is my first Lockhart novel, but it definitely won’t be my last. :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – July

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Angieville
Persnickety Snark
Presenting Lenore
Forever Young Adult

Second Life Falls Short

The Short Second Life of Bree TannerThe Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits.

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood… life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as “her”. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trus. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

It was a success story that began with a dream – literally. In 2003, a housewife and law school aspirant who had never written a short story in her entire life woke up from a vivid dream about a vampire who was in love with a human girl, but who also thirsted for her blood. The woman felt compelled to write the dream down, just for herself, until her sister urged her to send the manuscript for publication. Fifteen letters and nine rejections later, Stephenie Meyer found a deal that catapulted her to literary fame (and sometimes infamy) with her Twilight saga.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years: Twilight is the story of an ordinary human girl named Bella Swan and her romance with a 107-year-old vampire Edward Cullen. The saga is composed of four books – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn – that chronicle their romance and attendant complications (werewolf Jacob Black, and the Volturi, who enforce vampire law). Midnight Sun, the companion novel to the saga that tells the story from Edward’s point of view, was delayed indefinitely after the chapters were leaked online, and Meyer allegedly decided to focus her energy on non-Twilight books.

Or so we thought. Yet now we have Bree Tanner, a new novella in the same universe as the Twilight Saga. Click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 38 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 20 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

Twilorama

Have you ever had that certain thing, the one that even if you know you don’t like it, you still can’t help but watch it or read it or get it? It may be force of habit, or maybe a guilty pleasure, but somehow, you just can’t stop yourself. It’s like, an unstoppable force, something you are not supposed to like, or have sworn off but you can’t help but still check it out every once in a while.

I just got to that point. But first, some examples!

Exhibit A: A couple of years ago, TV 5 came out with a localized version of Gossip Girl. It wasn’t exactly promoted that way, but as a fan of the TV series, I knew that Lipgloss was based on that with its first plug. It was bad, really bad, and I hated all their acting and script and editing…but did that stop me from watching? Of course not! I still watched! I stopped watching after a month, though…but still, I knew what was happening for that month. Hah.

Exhibit B: I’m not a fan of Twilight anymore. I used to be, at least until the disaster that is Breaking Dawn. I watched the first movie and found it lacking, but did it stop me from watching New Moon? Of course not! I still watched, and I was willing to watch it the second time if only to see Taylor Lautner again. Of course, I was only staring at Taylor Lautner the entire movie, but New Moon isn’t like, say, Star Trek or other good movies out there. Eclipse is showing soon, and will I pass it up? No! I will still watch, again if only for Taylor Lautner.

Exhibit C: Today I found myself buying this off Amazon:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

I'm not sure if I'm crazy for buying this.

I’ve been contemplating buying this since I heard it was about to be released, not because I like it and would die if I don’t read it, but because I knew it’s something I should review for my writing gig. I was doubtful, because I feel like it’s a waste of money to get this. It’s $9.99! It’s P450 in bookstores! It’s more expensive than the single books in the saga!

But did that stop me? No. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is now in my Kindle for iPod, waiting to be read and reviewed for this week. I can’t bring myself to buy an actual copy of the book, because I didn’t want to put make room for the book on my shelf (all my Twilight books are lost somewhere, eep), so I just splurged on an ebook.

Sometimes I don’t know when to stop.

But as I reasoned with my friend, I will have ROI on this anyway. I think. And I hate to admit this, but I am strangely curious over this book. The Host failed to make me curious enough to get a copy, but this one is a part of a big following, and I’m wondering if Meyer’s writing has improved, and if she’ll still make Edward and Bella all sparkly and perfect even in the eyes of another character. (If so, then gag me. I’d rather read about sleep aids than that again. Heh.)

I don’t know if it’s worth it yet, but you’ll definitely know soon. Wait for it!