The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-02-12 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 126 user ratings

"I have a confession. I did what bloggers are not supposed to do. I googled the book and read bad reviews of this book. *gasp* I know, sue me. See the thing is, no one has ever recommended this book to me, I've never heard anyone talking about this book or telling me why I needed to read it. Stuff like this makes me curious, because I know people know who E Lockhart is, and I know a lot of people love the Ruby Oliver series. So why the radio silence on this book. Was it that it this book was so horrid and would damage my corneas by just reading the filth of the pages, or was it that this book was quite possibly so amazing, they didn't want anyone else to discover it, like they were hatching some plan to keep Frankie under wraps so they could keep her all to themsleves. Or maybe, I was so woefully, ignorantly out of the loop through my own fault.

I would like to start the shennanigans by stating that Frankie Landau-Banks might just be one of my favourite heronies. Not only is she so kick ass she could probably knock the karate kid down a notch, but she makes up words for fun. For fun. Now, most of you don't know me personally, but making up words is one of my favourite past times, like pretending to be able to speak forgein languages and dancing in front of the mirror with my remote. Plus, she is this crazy insane mastermind, I even think if she put her immensely clever mind to it, she could probably plot world domination and not even get caught. I can't even steal glances at people without getting caught.

So Frankie goes to this ultra posh boarding school also known as Albaster Prep School, this year she is hot and seems to have grown quite an impressive rack over the summer, which of course means that when she goes back to school as a Sophomore, she is the prime piece of arm candy for the hottest guy in school. The hottest guy in school is also called Matthew, though, Alpha was most definately my favourite. 1, he was blond, 2, he was actually cleverer than he let on, and disguised intelligance makes me feel kind of sweaty. Him and his friends are part of this secret society called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, not that Frankie is supposed to know about this, but go with it, (she's like a spy with fashion sense!) Not only does Matthew not tell Frankie about his secret boys only club, but her tries to start bossing her around, which does not go down well with Frankie.

Now, any other girl would just accept that her boyfriend had this boy club and not actually care that she was never invited to join or let into the camerarderie of it all, which even she admits, is the thing she cares about most of all. Not Frankie. Sick and tired of feeling underestimated and unworthy, all because she owns a pair of boobs, Frankie fights back. I will say it now, girl power is one of the best kinds of power. Sticking it to the Man, she infiltrates the group, masquerading as one of their own and commands them to pull a series of well thought out, insanely clever pranks. Shes like a puppet master pulling their little boy strings and making them do whatever she asks, without them even knowing it was her. If that is not pure love rolled up into a mastermind sneaky troublesome feminist, then I dont know what is.

My favourite thing was that although she loved hanging with Matthew and his friends, Frankie was never scared of saying what she thought, she wouldn't fade into the shadows of their exclusivity, she was her own person dammit and she wanted them to see her for the person she was, rather the person she was with. Social order could suck it as far as Frankie was concerned, who cared that the club had been only open to males since it originated, wasn't this the 21st century, where women were now classed as equals to men. They had the right to vote, so why not the right to join some crummy club a bunch of grodie boys were running into the ground.

Conformity is never something i've been comfortable with, I don't like to be told what to do and I hate being undermined by people. Its rude and unneccesary, so when Frankie basically give them all the finger and was like "screw you, i'm going to do what I want, and none of you nimwits can stop me, because i've got more brains in my big toe than you've got in that delicious head of yours" (shes talking to Alpha or Matthew here I suspect) I nearly broke out the awesome dance. Like, if I could've put the book down for one second, the dance would've been danced. This book made me question everything, it made me realise that young adult literature needs more fiesty kick ass girls, girls who can outsmart boys headed to Harvard.

This is a book that makes me happy I read YA, it was witty, intelligent, and a genius new spin on feminisim and how fighting back against the social order is something each and everyone of us should try sometime, even if its some lame ass unspoken rule. So next time i'm on the bus i'm going to talk to myself and not care that people think i'm crazy, i'll just be sticking it to the Man. Brilliant, one of the best books i've read this year.
" said.

"I was definitely 'gruntled' when I read this book *you'll have to read the story to understand what that means* :) There are several reasons why I'm giving this book 5 stars (1) I'd definitely read this story over again, (2) I have no hesitation recommending it to others and (3) the storyline is original and very well written. I truly enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

Frankie Landau-Banks, the main character, attends Alabaster Academy, a widely-known boarding school for the kids of influential and wealthy families. In her sophomore year, she meets Matthew Livingston, who is a senior and part of a secret organization of the academy known as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Unfortunately, Frankie resents the exclusive boy's club and starts to use her creativity, ambition and intelligence to insert herself in an organization not meant for girls by pulling the strings and master-mining pranks no one knows she's responsible for. Along the way, you see Frankie stop every now and again to contemplate her actions and fight for change is needed.

This book is flawlessly crafted, the dialog is perfectly balanced between witty, funny and heartfelt, the characters are flawed yet extremely likable, the setting is unique and the storyline is original. The icing on the cake for me would be an epilogue that offered some insight into Frankie's life 2 years after the event. Great story a MUST read.
" said.

" A story about a weak chick whose world revolves around what guys want her to do. " said.

"I may get a few boos for this one. But I couldn't quite like it*. Blame it on the tense. Third person past tense (as far as I can reckon). Or blame it on the expostulating tone, purposefully pretentious and off-putting. A blend of intelligence and condescension. It's not like every page was of this style, but there were little asides by the narrator--I suppose it's the narrator--that just intruded in on the story. Created too much distance for my taste. Added in too much reflection.

How does a person become the person she is? What are the factors in her culture, her childhood, her education, her religion, her economic stature, her sexual orientation, her race, her everyday interactions--what stimuli lead her to make choices other people will despise her for?
This chronicle is an attempt to mark out the contributing elements in Frankie Landau-Banks's character. What led her to do what she did: things she would later view with a curious mixture of hubris and regret. Frankie's mental processes had been stimulated by Ms. Jensson's lectures on the panopticon , her encounters with Alpha, her mother's refusal to let her walk into town on the Jersey Shore, her observation of the joy Matthew took in rescuing her from her bicycle accident, and her anger at Dean for not remembering her. All these were factors in what happened next... (107)

I do like several things about it however. I just have a love-hate relationship with the narrative style. There are paragraphs that I love, and there are paragraphs that I hate. Phrases that I think are a bit too much, and phrases that I think are just right. I like how the first chapter begins, for example, "Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock." I think both the prologue and the first few chapters offer quite a hook or incentive to readers.

Frankie is a boarding school student whose sophomore year presents great opportunities for adventure and misadventure. She'll experience the ups and downs of having a relationship with a "popular" boy, a real somebody. Rich too. Her old friendships will be threatened by the aforementioned relationship and all that brings about. Frankie is smart. She's determined. She's got her own way of seeing the world. And none of those things are bad. All quite good actually.

It's not Frankie that I dislike but the meddling narrator who likes to tell instead of show.

*I'll qualify this statement. Based on the all the buzz, the hype, I couldn't "like" it as much as I "should". See, this is one that has been getting love all over the place. People saying it's the best of the best, one of the year's must-reads. A book people are just raving about. I didn't think it was that good, that deserving. But it's a good read. A solid read. I wouldn't put this one in my top ten of the year. I probably wouldn't even have it in the top twenty. But it is a good book all the same. In other words, I've read dozens and dozens that I disliked more than this one.

This is neither here nor there. But one of the things I found unbelievable was that Frankie's sister, Zada, took her under her wing. Zada's a senior. Frankie was a freshman. She let Frankie sit with her and her junior and senior friends at lunch. She allowed Frankie to tag along with her. To be a part of her "cool" set of friends. I have a hard time believing that even a good sister would do this. I shared two years of school with my sister, we overlapped two years I mean, and never once would I have been encouraged/allowed to sit with her at lunch. To hang out with her friends at school. It was one thing to be allowed to tag along after school (on occasion) or at home.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
" said.

"I think I should flag myself here and now from reading any more teen books that are rumored to have "feminist" messages, short of sci-fi/fantasy girl survivalist sorts of books. Because the pressures of real life teen girlhood seem too complex to yield a fully realized heterosexual, cisgendered, and feminist heroine who happens to still be in high school. Horomones are raging too strong. Boys matter too much at that age and, in the interest of honesty, even after it too.

Frankie Landau-Banks is not your usual YA main character, which means she's good-looking, fairly well off, undamaged, and not cruel. She's starting her sophomore year at an elite private high school, where, having blossomed into this pretty, smart girl over the summer, she's quickly snatched up by the boy of her dreams, popular senior Matthew Livingston. He's a little condescending and wants more to protect her and show her off than to treat her as a capable, intelligent person of her own. Frankie doesn't like it, but she likes the way she feels being on Matthew's arm. When she finds that he's a member of a secret society of pranksters -- the cream of the crop club at the school, and membership is boys only -- she gets mad. Like all famous spitfires in history, Frankie comes up with a plan to get even.

Let's start with the good: the book is well written. Lockhart writes in a sweeping, textured, whimsical third person omniscient style that sort of emulates all of the kids lit classics (Peter Pan, The Secret Garden immediately came to my mind). When you read a book that's written in this way and is well done too, you can't help but feel that you are reading about An Important Person, even if the story is a little less than satisfying.

That said, the problems I had with this book are as follows:

1.) I like highly intelligent female main characters. Lockhart apparently does too, since she keeps reminding us over and over (and over) again that Frankie is beautiful and basically a teenage prodigy. To me, her demonstrated intelligence actually seems more like savviness -- which is a form of being smart, but "smart" and "savvy" are not synonymous. So the repetition of her ~*~*superior*~*~ intelligence without it actually being demonstrated bothered me in the way that all Mary Sues bother me.

2.) Frankie does what she does to subvert the order of the Good Old Boys. That's what Lockhart tells us. But Lockhart also tells us that Frankie wants the boys to be impressed by her, keeps reminding us that she personally likes the boys even though she wants to teach them a lesson. This is a nice look at the conflicting desires of a teenage girl in her budding feminism, but I don't think Frankie is meant to be as complex a character. I think she's meant to be a heroine. At the end of the book, Lockhart gives us this speech about how a girl like Frankie will change the world. I can't help but think that wanting the approval of the boys along the way as she does, wanting personal recognition and inclusion by the boys (rather than starting a group of her own) will continue to be a hindrance. Frankie's spunky, but she's not the undaunted, righteous Sister Suffragette I sorta hoped she'd be.

3.) Even more problematic than Frankie wanting to win the admiration of the boys she likes as a "feminist character" is her relationship to other girls in the story. She thinks that the girl her ex-boyfriend cheats on her with is plain, a trade in of her "model" for "another model who's not that great". Frankie gets to know another sophomore girl who's dating a senior boy, and this girl is characterized as way too dense to be real, an obvious foil for that intellect of Frankie's. And she actually calls the secret society's "alpha dog" character's girlfriend "the She-Wolf," for how the girl doggedly follows her boyfriend around. Surely we can have a feminist character who doesn't condescendingly disparage other women in the process?

But I don't know. Because again, I think maybe it's unreasonable for me to expect a 15 year old girl in the beginning stages of feminism to be fully realized. She's not as mean about these other girls as she could be at that age. She's not totally subservient to the boys, and at least makes an effort to reject their hold on her in favor of a little empowerment. It's a step up AND IT'S TEEN FICTION, YES, but I kept thinking "you've got a long way, baby."
" said.

"The library loaned me an ARC! Bad library! Reading it anyway.

Now that I'm finished:

I feel like someone poured my head out into a book. And then revised it for the consumption of myself, age 11. You guys I am seriously considering building a time machine for the sole purpose of bringing this book back to myself as a preteen. It would have soothed a lot of nerves, I can tell you that, and then about ten years later it would have served as a memory-beacon. E. Lockhart just totally nails so many important m/f dynamics that we're all just supposed to up and guess about, and she does it without turning on any of that righteous Sarah Dessen scold. It's kind of a miracle. Can I give this book to every girl?

Possibly my favorite part of this entire thing is the ending (so, you know, spoilers), and how our loyal narrator does not let Ms. Landau-Banks off the hook. You know what, when Alpha writes that last email to Frankie and says she's kind of mean, I love how Frankie doesn't even respond to that, she's too busy feeling chuffed by her accomplishments. She's got a flaw that could keep her from success, or could rocket her straight into success but keep her from happiness. You can't give her the ending where she wins forever because we know how fast she changed over a semester--who knows what happens next semester?

I also love her relationship with her roommate--could have easily been an ally, except that everyone wants something from you, you know? At least that's how Frankie might think, now.

" said.

"How is it that this book so popular and well received? Frankie Landau-Banks is a bright, witty girl with issues. Lots and lots of issues which never get resolved let alone addressed. We meet her at the beginning of her sophomore year at the highly prestigious boarding school, Alabaster Preparatory Academy. In a moment that is clearly a blatant Three’s Company rip-off, Frankie is so distracted by the butt of her longtime crush, Matthew Livingston, that she falls from her bicycle. Matthew hears the crash and rushes to her aid, thus beginning Frankie’s transformation from a normal teenage girl into an Anita Blake in the making.

*shields ears from loud booing of Frankie fans who know what a wackjob Anita Blake is*

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at first glance appears to be a cute girl power book. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. As I mentioned, Frankie has Issues. The main plot of this story revolves around Frankie attempting to infiltrate, control and overthrow the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which is the secret all-male society that her boyfriend Matthew is a member of. However, so much more comes into play in this novel. A main subject of course is feminism. Frankie can’t stand the idea of a club that she is excluded from simply because of her gender. Although she justifies screwing with this club by expressing a desire to shake up societal norms…. she also wants to impress the guys.

So many times while hanging out with Matthew and his friends, Frankie laments that these guys never noticed her before she developed curves, or that if she and Matthew were to break up his friends wouldn’t continue a friendship with her. She takes extreme offense to Matthew’s best friend, Alpha, competing with her for Matthew’s attention. And while she occasionally thinks she lurves Matthew, she always feels patronized by him. Yeah he is super-hot, funny, charming and a good kisser but he never really listens to her or makes her feel appreciated or needed in the way she wants, needs and expects to be.

So does Frankie:
Form her own super-secret all girl society?
Have a heart to heart and angsty talk with her best friend or older sister about all the reasons why her relationship with Matthew isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Talk with Matthew honestly and openly?
Act like a 15 year old girl and rag Matthew about spending so much time with his friends?

None of the above. She spies on Matthew. She covertly infiltrates his secret club. She surreptitiously becomes a better Basset Hound than any Basset Hound member in recent years, yet is depressed that Matthew does not guess that she is behind everything. Frankie, while spouting feminist ideals, is motivated by attracting the attention of and impressing the guys. In this singular pursuit, Frankie alienates and withholds secrets from her best (and only close) friend. She passes up social activities she used to enjoy in favor of Matthew. She mopes when she has to spend an entire Thanksgiving weekend away from Matthew.

It’s all about Matthew.

I’m hesitant to point out the fact that Frankie becomes crazy obsessed with Matthew’s participation with the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds after only a week or two of dating, because I do remember those high school days when one month was a long term relationship. Even so, Frankie is competing for Matthew’s affections against guys who have been close friends with him for years. It’s a lost battle from the start. My concern with this novel isn’t that Frankie freaks out a little bit and becomes a slightly psycho girlfriend. It’s that she is clearly written to be a role model for girls everywhere.

Frankie is not pursuing feminist ideals or notions. She is simply an emotionally immature little girl who is feeling excluded. Forcing people to see you or respect you is not being a feminist. Your boyfriend calling you, “sweet”, “pretty” or “adorable” isn’t chauvinistic. And a group of guys participating in a decades old all-male secret society isn’t (necessarily) discriminating. Frankie’s pissing contest with the guys, her abrasiveness, her reading so many thoughts, actions and hidden meanings into the simplest word a person utters doesn’t make her a strong positive female role model. It makes her Anita Blake. Like Anita, Frankie is obsessed with power. How to get it, who has it, who wants it. Everything is a power struggle to her. And like Anita, Frankie doesn’t give a shit what others think (although she really and truly does care what the guys think).

”Frankie appreciated both the accolades and the rejections equally, because both meant she’d had an impact. She wasn’t a person who needed to be liked so much as she was a person who liked to be notorious.”

Shortly before starting The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I finished Dairy Queen. That was an amazing feminist book. Protagonist D.J.Schwenk makes a gender defying move to go out for her high school football team. Unlike Anita Frankie, she doesn’t have something to prove. She simply enjoys playing football and is good at it… so why not? Frankie, for all of her smarts, simply hasn’t learned the lesson that sometimes people don’t like you. Sometimes you can’t be a part of the group. Sometimes a guy is always going to choose his friend over his girl. The phrase, “You can’t change another person’s behavior but you can change your reaction to it” is a lesson that would serve Frankie well.

Unfortunately as the novel ended Frankie had not learned a lesson or changed her ways. Frankie’s mother and sister insist she see a counselor who helps her to,

”explore her “aggression” and to work on channeling her impulses into more socially appropriate activities. The counselor suggested competitive team sports as a positive outlet, and pushed Frankie to join the girls’ filed hockey team.
That was not a productive solution.
It was the girls’ team.
Boys didn’t even play field hockey.
Boys thought nothing of field hockey.
Frankie was not interested in playing a sport that was rated as nothing by the more powerful half of the population.”

Frankie would be a great contest on Survivor

I would love to see E. Lockhart write a book about Frankie in her twenties. When she grows up to be a smart, independent young woman who has calmed down since her high school days and takes into consideration the following:
Power, feminism and respect don’t always involve defying social order and expectations.
By trying so very hard to permeate the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, Frankie gave the group so much more power than if she would have simply ignored their existence.
Men and women have differences and that is okay.
" said.

"Excellent read about a sassy, smart, and fearless young woman who is determined to be more than arm candy and uses her shrewd intellect to outsmart the boys. Part grrrl power, part social commentary, AND equal parts wicked fun.

This is one of those books that I wish schools would use as part of the curriculum instead of Lord of the Flies. Reading about Frankie subverting the power structure of an elite boarding is MUCH more interesting.

Essay question:

What does it mean that once Frankie's crimes are revealed that it has little to do with her actions and more to do with her gender?


***Updated 06/12/14***

link(s) about latest book ::

We Were Liars
" said.

April 2018 New Book:

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