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

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Author: E. (Emily) Lockhart

Published: March 25th, 2008

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

She might, in fact, go crazy, as has happened to a lot of people who break the rules. Not the people who play at rebellion but really only solidify their already dominant positions in society but those who take some larger action that disrupts the social order. Who try to push through the doors that are usually closed to them. They do sometimes go crazy, these people, because the world is telling them not to want the things they want. It can seem saner to give up – but then ones goes insane from giving up.

Synopsis:

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.[From Jacket]

Review:

This book is everything I’ve come not to expect from the average YA book.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t absolutely love some of those “average YA books,” but I certainly appreciate the fact that The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks pushes the boundaries of what some people might deem acceptable. It refuses on all levels to be normal.

I loved it. In fact, I love it for some of the very reason that I didn’t give it five stars.

Frankie Landau-Banks is the perfect sort of main character for readers like myself, readers whose eyes are always peeled and on the look-out for clever, entertaining, even brilliant teen protagonists. My mind immediately jumps to John Green’s characters, but Frankie fits this description perfectly. The beautifully ironic thing is that it’s typically those character’s brilliance and cleverness that leads to whatever trouble they eventually find themselves in. Frankie is no exception, and The Disreputable History is her journey toward that trouble.

It’s written in the form of a detached narrative. It’s analytical in a way I’ve never seen in YA literature, and I was pleased by the effect. I felt as though I was reading a very intriguing, in-depth news article. The language was phenomenal. I don’t mean to sound snooty when I say that I have a pretty expansive vocabulary, but I do (for my age, at least). The Disreputable History absolutely refused to stay within the walls of said expansive vocabulary, and for the first time in a while, I had to ask my mother what a word meant every five pages. I loved it!

Though there were moments when the book felt as though it was being told in first person (which astonished me), it was definitely analytical, as I said before. The downside to this was the fact that I never felt as though I was really inside Frankie’s head. I prefer to have unlimited access to a character’s thoughts and psyche. This was the main reason I did not give the book a five star rating.

On the other hand, there are so many things about this book to love. Namely, the characters and their irresistible cleverness.

Frankie is an apparent mastermind from the start. Her intellect and potential leak through every word she says in the first chapter. She was funny, clever, and the perfect, odd-ball combination of insecure and confident. She wasn’t overly sure of her social standing or appearance, and therefore very true to what it is to be a teenaged girl. Yet, she is supremely confident (almost arrogant) when it comes to her ingenuity. She knows she’s smarter and more thoughtful than the average teen – heck, than the average anyone – and it’s that arrogant confidence that leads her down a very fascinating and entertaining path to “doom”.

Though there’s a collection of characters that add humor to every page, there are only two that I believe must make it into the review. Matthew and Alpha. Matthew originally appears to be the fill-in-the-blank perfect guy that the poor, never truly noticed fill-in-the-blank girl has been pining after for months. While Frankie is not just a filled in blank, Matthew isn’t either. He’s clever and loves to think and discuss anything aside from the things Frankie wants to think about and discuss. I liked him for a good while, but I noticed the distance he kept between Frankie and himself long before Frankie did. What irritated me to an even greater degree was his self-assured attitude (which I think took root in his self-doubt, interestingly enough). I don’t want to go too far, so let me leave it with this: Matthew rubbed me the wrong way.

On the other hand, you have Alpha, who was equally irritating but in more preferable ways. I think it was the fact that I knew the surface-Alpha was, well, just that – the surface. I was acutely aware that there was more to him, and that out-of-reach truthof him was tantalizing. I was always dying for something more – more than I ever got, actually. Alpha remains a mystery. He’s so fun to wonder about, though, that I don’t quite mind. He was infinitely more interesting than Matthew.

The characters, the plot, and the thoughtfulness of everything were wonderful individually. You throw them together and you get The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks, a book that is deliciously clever, thoughtful, and brilliantly constructed.

6 Commentsto “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart; Review”

  1. Fabulous review! I recently read this book and absolutely loved it!

  2. wow, such a great review! I definitely want to read this soon, Frankie just sounds like the *perfect* protagonist for me :p I LOVE those type of characters! And the mention on the different (and smart) writing style has me intrigued! Thanks so much for the review!

  3. Whoa. Nice review, Madeleine. I need to read this book.

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