Sunday, December 29, 2013

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Narrator:  Tanya Eby Sirois
Series: n/a
Length:  6 hrs 9 mins
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: June 20, 2008
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.

It's been a couple of weeks since I listened to this audiobook.  I didn't mean to wait this long to review it, but them's the breaks.  Still, days later, I don't feel any differently about my first E. Lockhart novel than I did when I first finished it, and I'm kind of worried about how We Were Liars will fare now.

You see, unlike most people out there, I didn't love this book to pieces.  Actually, I found it kind of annoying for the most part.  If I hadn't been listening to the book instead of reading a physical copy, I probably would have set it aside and moved on.  But it's always easier for me to finish a story I'm not enjoying immensely when I'm listening to it while doing other activities, simply because I'm not technically wasting my time. (Money, sure, but not my time.)  The narrator was average...nothing stands out about the narration but it was decent and easy to listen to, anyway.

Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl who just realized she can no longer stand by and be left out of the good old boys club at her school.  Her father was a member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds and now her super-hot boyfriend is a member.  And both are keeping secrets and lying to her about it.  I'm all for the girl who stands up for her rights and wants to be noticed.  (Don't we all?)  But the antics, the shenanigans, the lengths to which Frankie will go to be a part of this group, even without their knowing it, is entirely implausible and rather detrimental to the point she's trying to make, in my opinion.

First of all, I don't know any teenage girl with so little life -- or so much free time -- that she could plan the hijinks this group of guys finds themselves a part of.  There were some really well-devised schemes and pranks thought up by one Frankie Landau-Banks, but between friends, dating, and homework, where would a girl find the time to conjure up plans of this magnitude...and fairly regularly from the sound of it?  With any book, I allow for some suspension of belief because it is fiction, but when it's supposed to be realistic fiction, I have to draw a line somewhere, and this book overstepped it at times.

Especially the part where no one -- aside from her roommate the previous year -- seems to recognize Frankie after she had a summer growth spurt/transformation.  She's suddenly very pretty and developed and no one realizes that she's not a new student, that she attended Alabaster Prep with them the year before as a freshman.  I know some boys tend to be on the dense-side and that some makeovers really can transform a person, but the fact that she'd sat at the same lunch table as some of these guys, had actual conversations with them before, should have left some sort of impression, especially since they all knew her older sister before she graduated.  It just doesn't add up to me.

One thing I did enjoy about this story was the way it ended.  Teenage girls don't get their happily ever after at the age of 16, and I thought that even though things ended well enough for our heroine, she still hadn't made any friends with her choice to deceive and lead the Bassets astray.  I always favor realistic endings to those that are picture perfect, even if they do leave me less than satisfied.

I said I was worried about Lockhart's next novel, but that's not due to the writing.  I actually quite liked the writing style. It's the characters that bothered me, or more accurately, their actions.  I didn't connect with the characters, and I didn't like them, nor did I feel any inclination to do so.  But the way Frankie was portrayed, it seemed that had her father and boyfriend simply offered up some platitudes and a secret or two about their secret society, her whole plan may never have come to fruition.  The story seems like it's about feminism when really it felt like a study of Frankie's relationships with the two most important men in her life at the time.  In the end, did she finally get the respect she so desperately craved?  That's still up for debate.  Also, what was up with what happened with the ex?  Was that just some kind of initiation thing?  It was never fully explained.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was not a bad story.  I'd just heard so many wonderful things about this book, seen it on so many favorites lists over the years, that I went into the book with exceedingly high expectations that just weren't meant.  I still plan to read my ARC of We Were Liars, and I hope that it can set me straight where this author is concerned, especially since I haven't read any reviews for it yet.  I have a feeling that fact alone will help the book withstand my scrutiny.

GIF it to me straight:

An eye roll-inducing fluff piece masquerading as something deeper, though not altogether unenjoyable.

About the author:

E. Lockhart is the author of a number of teen novels. She has had nine official boyfriends, if you count the boy who asked her to go with him at a 7th grade dance and then basically never talked to her again. She has never been on a sports team of any kind and got excused from gym class by going to ballet lessons. She has a tattoo, cuts her own hair, and has worn the same perfume since high school (Kiehl's Chinese Flowers). In her office are two Betty & Veronica dolls, a photo of a particularly fat bull dog, an official business card from “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective,” and the 1920s flapper dress she wore to the prom.

Find Emily:

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