The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Number of pages: 342
My copy: hardbound, bought from Fully Booked (on sale!)
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
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.
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. :)
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. :)