Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: November 6th 2014 (this edition)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Fifteen-year-old Frankie Landau-Banks has grown up a lot over the summer. She's no longer daddy's little girl - and almost immediately after starting the new semester at her highly prestigious school, she bags goofy-but-gorgeous Matthew Livingston as her boyfriend. They get along great but then Frankie discovers that Matthew is a member of a boys-only secret society that specialise in 'hilarious' pranks. Which hardly seems fair... especially when Frankie knows she's smarter than any of its members. And to prove this, she's going to teach them a lesson.
Impersonating lead member Alpha by using a fake email account is surprisingly easy, and soon Frankie is setting the boys up with all sorts of ridiculous schemes and sending them on wild goose chase after wild goose chase. Alpha's not prepared to lose face and admit it's not him sending the emails - but the fun can't last forever, and soon Frankie will have to choose between what she think she wants, and the reputation she deserves. (from Goodreads)
I had only a very vague idea of what this book was about when I started it, and had no clue what to expect. The synopsis had me very intrigued though, so I was looking forward to reading it. I never read We Were Liars (I know, I know, but it just didn't appeal to me!) but I have read some of E. Lockhart's other books and pretty much loved them all, so I was hoping I'd enjoy this one just as much. I am happy to say that I did and while I had a few problems, it was a really good book overall.
Frankie Landau-Banks was a great character, because even though half the things she was doing were kind of reckless (though very well planned), you could understand why she was doing it all. She was very perceptive, and she could tell what other people thought of her, and how they tried to manipulate her. She hated being underestimated just because she was a girl. She didn't like that she was expected to always be smiling and sweet and sensitive. She wanted to a force to be reckoned with, and she also wanted to be acknowledged as such. Yet even though she wanted that, even though she knew her relationship with Matthew was just a series of power plays, with Matthew always thinking he was winning, she still wanted to be with him. She loved him - or thought she did - and I suppose she figured that maybe if she kept doing what she was doing, he could change, and see her for who she really was. She definitely had the mind of a strategist; she could always work out the best move to take when she was trying to manipulate someone herself. You had to respect her for that. She achieved a lot in a short period of time, and regardless of what motivated her and whether it was a good idea or not, not many people could have done what she did.
I never liked Matthew or Alpha, but I don't think I was supposed to. Alpha especially, he was too concerned with being top dog, with having the most power, and he treated everyone but a few select people like they were below him and hardly worth his time. Matthew was not as obvious with his power plays - he was a little more subtle - but it was still there. He had to have the last word. He had to be right about certain things. He twisted conversations so that it always came back to him letting Frankie do something instead of her asserting her right to whatever she wanted. He expected her to be something she didn't want to be. Frankie recognised this behaviour was not right. She tried to do something about it. But a lot of people wouldn't realise that Matthew was behaving in a controlling manner. And being part of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds meant he was exclusionary. Alpha too. It was another part of their hypocrisy. Constantly being dishonest to Frankie about being a member and going to meetings, in Matthew's eyes, was him being loyal to the group. But Frankie keeping something from him in much the same manner - that was just downright lying. When Alpha did something sneaky and against the rules, he was brilliant. But when Frankie did it, she was psychotic. Like she said in the book, it was a double standard. I could understand what drove Frankie (though I also understood why her family were worried about her in the end).
Plot-wise, I loved all the pranks and the way Frankie was masterminding everything. I especially liked the emails between her and Alpha. I didn't plan to read this book in one sitting, but, well...I did. The narration style was kind of addictive and I needed to know how things were going to end. There were only a few things thing I didn't like. One was the essay extracts. I found them kind of boring and a bit unnecessary. Maybe they also reminded me of all the essays I need to write over the holidays...but still. I also thought Frankie herself was a bit contradictory. She was so obsessed with what other people thought that she was rarely every actually being herself. She would sometimes do things she didn't actually like just to impress others, or prove them wrong. It didn't really match her whole "see me for me" thing. I also think she was sometimes a little bit judgemental about other girls, and that she was too concerned with the boys. She had to do what they did and prove that she could do it too, but why? To earn their respect? Why did she want it so badly? Was it really just about being acknowledged? It seemed like only these boys' approval would do and that she felt she needed it to be worth something - and that just didn't sit well with me. But I don't know, I could be wrong. Anyway, apart from that, I really enjoyed the book, and the general message it sent out.
Overall, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Bank was an engaging and thought-provoking read, and I recommend it if you're looking for a contemporary that's a bit different.