Okay, so Winter Break has been over for about a week now and I’ve been back at work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I do miss those days of lounging on the couch reading, blogging or just seeing my friends in the middle of the day! But, I guess if everyday was like those days they wouldn’t be as special.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
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.
I don’t read a ton of contemporary, but when I do I know which authors to choose and usually E. Lockhart is right up there at the top of my list. I adored her Ruby Oliver series so much that I’d definitely classify it as one of my favorite contemporary series ever. So, you can see that I was expecting Frankie Landau Banks to be awesome on the level of the Ruby Oliver books. Although I did enjoy the story, I was majorly disappointed.
So, one thing I appreciate about Lockhart’s characters is that they are always multifaceted. Things are not always as they first seem with her supporting and main characters because they’re like onions as Shrek suggests: “Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.” Lockhart’s main characters have tons of layers that you have to peel away to see the whole person. Frankie Landau-Banks has a ton of layers. She is struggling to figure out her identity, she is stubborn, incredibly bright, vulnerable, jealous, fun, precocious, a little obsessive compulsive and also annoying. She is a really cool character, but her inability to see things through the perspective of others makes her kind of frustrating. She has this really wise older sister who gives her quality advice, but Frankie can’t see past her own interests to get some perspective. She was really frustrating and not in a lovable way. Also, in Lockhart’s other books, the supporting characters are “oniony” too, but Frankie’s supporting characters seemed a little two-dimensional to me; they just weren’t very interesting.
The whole caper/prank story line is seriously fun! The whole story begins with Frankie giving her side of the story, after everything has already happened. So, we get to go back and see everything that happened as she tells it. She first starts her pranks to see if she can and to have a little fun, but slowly over the school year Frankie’s pranks turn into so much more than just a little fun. They get all twisted up with revenge and gender politics and struggles for power and they’re all done in such creative ways! There were so many times I would cringe and think “Frankie no more! No one cares anymore!”
This all sounds pretty cool right?! So then, why did I say I was disappointed in The Disreputable History of Landau-Banks? Guys. The ending. I’m not trying to give anything away, but it just feels like Lockhart suddenly said “DONE!” and that was it. No loose ends tied or closure in any way. I don’t know what I expected, but it seemed to me like there wasn’t an actual ending to story. That left me feeling shocked and frustrated. I actually went back through my audiobook cds to see if I had missed a disc. That is how confused I felt. I just felt let down.
So, before I got to the ending I would have completely recommended The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks to YA contemporary fans, as it was recommended to me, but I kind of feel like if you’re looking for stronger contemporary read you should skip this one and go for Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series instead. They’re just so much more fulfilling and more “oniony” on the whole.
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (March 25, 2008)
Length: 6 hours and 9 minutes
Narrator(s): Tanya Eby Sirois
Buy the Book: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks