BOOK REVIEWS

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-06-14 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 126 user ratings
ISBN:0786838191
LANGUAGE:English

"So, so good. And about real, complicated issues.

This has been a year of important teen novels (I count Little Brother among those), stories that pick up the notion of civil disobedience and make it fresh, fun, and relevant for younger readers. This is one of those books. Happily, it's also about many other things: gender roles; power relationships; self-worth v. value assigned by position in society; the ability of smart acts of guerrilla art to provoke thought; how inclusion and exclusion affect people; language and how it controls our thinking; Foucault notions of discipline and punishment; the desire to be loved v. the desire to be recognized for who you are; how women are still pigeon-holed, diminished, made less by men's expectations and their own.

And there's more, much more, but listed this way makes the book sound like dry, heady stuff, and it is anything but. Lockhart's great achievement here is that she's talking about all of this material by telling us the story of a girl who longs to be more than is expected of her. Frankie's story is told with real wit and grace and never loses sight of why we read in the first place: Because we want to know what happens to a person we're interested in.

I've a favorite line from an Alain de Botton book in which he's writing about Montaigne's essays: "We pick our friends not only because they are kind and enjoyable company, but also, perhaps more importantly, because they understand us for who we think we are." Or, in this case, who we want to be.

I'm not even going to discuss the plot, which has hijinks and romance (which guy will she choose? or will she choose either? etc.) and humor and other good things.

Anyway, a great teen novel.


(Bonus kvetch: A few readers I know found the opening pages cold and off-putting, and they stopped reading.

Fools.

Yes, initially, the tone of this novel may seem a bit distant—there's an almost clinical aspect to the voice that may rebuff readers who expect their teen lit to be whorishly easy to cozy up to—but that distance is illusory and quickly falls away. The voice here is what one should expect from an interested-but-superficially-dispassionate chronicler (who would pen a book entitled The Disreputable History of...), and that the reader warms up to Frankie as fast as we do is a sign of just how fantastically well put-together this novel is.)
" said.

" “I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the maldoings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order- including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy.”
Frances (Frankie) Landau-Banks at age fifteen is just a normal girl. That is, a normal girl attending a prestigious boarding school called Alabaster with a newly acquired, boy-magnetic figure. She’s spent the summer reading on the porch and drinking lemonade, and uses words like ‘gruntlement’ and ‘pugn.’ She’s not a criminal mastermind- not yet, at least- but is stubborn and smart enough for it.
Turned pretty over the summer, she becomes the girlfriend of highly sought-after sophomore Matthew Livingston. They hit it off immediately- constant good natured bantering and debates. But there is one flaw in their relationship. Matthew will always think of Frankie as just a girl, never more than that. Frankie arches an eyebrow and plunges into the depths of Alabaster, where there is a secret, all-male society called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, determined to restore the Order to it’s former glory- while maybe earning some respect along the way.
This book was an unusually fantastic read. Frankie’s offbeat, witty comments and her fresh ideas made me laugh out loud. Everything about her goes against the grain- from her criticisms of society (that resemble mine) and the actions she takes to correct them. But it would be hard to call her a feminist. She is more of a power-ist, or an ambition-ist. Every comment she makes is deliciously stubborn.
What I loved about this book was its portrayal of a teenage girl. Most young adult novels have whiny, emotional girls who spend their time thinking about boys, but Frankie is just so refreshingly rational. She commenting on what she sees, then putting facts together to make an observation. She then takes these observations, scrutinizes them, then makes the judgement that something-or-other is flawed. To mistaken authors out there- this is how some girls think.
I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys something new and different, both genders. The plot is as interesting as its characters, unpredictable and suspenseful. Each word was carefully chosen and utterly delicious, and overall, E. Lockhart did a better than great job of writing The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
" said.

"This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Feminism is an important topic, especially for those who unknowingly reinforce these gender stereotypes without realising how it impacts societal attitudes. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks features a character who believes she is feminist, but this is not a feminist book.

Frankie Landau-Banks annoyed me to no end. She’s obsessed with her crush, Matthew, and is delighted when he starts taking an interest in her. Despite being several years younger, she loves to run with her assumptions that he only sees her as a “cute, pleasant and beautiful young girl”. When she discovers his involvement in the male society of the Basset-Hounds, her behaviour becomes increasingly fixated, immature and obsessive. She wants to prove that she’s good enough to be a part of it, even though it’s historically been an order of males.

A healthy individual would either form her own female club, empower other females, or talk to Matthew about her concerns, but instead she stalks the guys for the entire book and plans on infiltrating their club. Why anyone would want to be part of a male exclusive club who plays pranks and swims around naked is only my guess. But it’s clear Frankie has some sort of inferiority complex for being born a woman.

Although there are some healthy topics and discussions of feminism, Frankie is annoyingly loud-mouthed, opinionated and righteous person who would go off at anyone who she perceives as anti-feminist. Some of these things, like alpha males wanting to protect women, could be right. But others, like Matthew and the boys not including her in the plans of the Basset-Hounds, aren’t so much and it was annoying when Frankie would spout off about being excluded. Her use of negative positive wording such as “gruntled” instead of “disgruntled” in normal conversation reinforces her superiority to everyone. I didn’t like Frankie and thought she had a whole heap of issues and I craved for them to be addressed in a healthy way.

Having read and loved We Were Liars, I was surprised at how different The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was. It features long-winded, dry and dull writing, and is primarily about a teenage girl who feels insecure amongst men. Frankie is the type of person I would stay far away from and the book could have addressed feminism in a more meaningful manner. It does contain some good topics of discussion though, but the way it was executed just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
" said.

"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.

June 2017 New Book:

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