Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Published Date: March 2008
Price: Amazon ($11.55)
Synopsis (from Booklist):
In the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Frankie Landau-Banks transforms from “a scrawny, awkward child” with frizzy hair to a curvy beauty, “all while sitting quietly in a suburban hammock, reading the short stories of Dorothy Parker and drinking lemonade.” On her return to Alabaster Prep, her elite boarding school, she attracts the attention of gorgeous Matthew, who draws her into his circle of popular seniors. Then Frankie learns that Matthew is a member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, an all-male Alabaster secret society to which Frankie’s dad had once belonged. Excluded from belonging to or even discussing the Bassets, Frankie engineers her own guerilla membership by assuming a false online identity. Frankie is a fan of P. G. Wodehouse’s books, and Lockhart’s wholly engaging narrative, filled with wordplay, often reads like a clever satire about the capers of the entitled, interwoven with elements of a mystery. But the story’s expertly timed comedy also has deep undercurrents. Lockhart creates a unique, indelible character in Frankie, whose oddities only make her more realistic, and teens will be galvanized by her brazen action and her passionate, immediate questions about gender and power, individuals and institutions, and how to fall in love without losing herself.
Evading society and breaking the rules behind authority make me more wistful for college life, away from parents and their scolding and nagging words. Or of Hogwarts (my letter is still lost in the mail, mind you). Feminism, strategist, and manipulation create Frankie Landau-Banks, a female reincarnation of a meaner Ender in Ender’s Game.
Frankie Landau-Banks is a female protagonist who wants to aim for more power and wants to be included in an exclusive society, the Basset Hounds. I absolutely loved Frankie and her ambitions. She doesn’t grovel at her boyfriend’s feet (which I find extremely annoying when I watch my soap operas) but rather wants to control and manipulate, the ultimate journey from the adorable and dependent girl her family sees her as. Frankie’s feminist power and stance creates a fresh difference from all the characters that moan and wonder about whether their boyfriends like them.
I felt the supporting characters could have been developed better through the omnipresent narrator. The third person narration could be annoying and ruinous to the book for some, but for me, it created a whole spy aura to it. How society is “watching” you through the concept of panopticon. By utilizing the third person narration, maybe E. Lockhart could have developed Alpha’s character more. I was indifferent to Alpha because all we saw of him was only the shell, the tough guy and the leader of the pack. I felt that Alpha’s weakness could have been developed better to create depth.
The romance fell flat in contrast to the manipulations and the pranks that Frankie pulls. I thought there was going to be a romance triangle prevalent in the book and I was excited for it but sadly it disappeared as it was overpowered by the power obsession Frankie has. Also, the romance between Frankie and Matthew was very boring and hypocritical of her. How she wants to please Matthew by doing all the pranks and how she still clings a bit for him towards the end.
The cover’s simplicity portrays a sophisticated tone to it. And I love the use of the letter and the basset to show the book as a journal or a letter of the incidents of Frankie’s ambition for power and her inclusion in Basset Hounds.
The unique development of the female protagonist and her ambition for power is a great way to develop the power of feminism and not conforming to society’s status quo. The third person narration helped create the atmosphere of the glares from society, but I felt it didn’t allow enough of the adventure of the pranks. Also, the development of the supporting characters could have been better. If you like to read books of being a strategist and manipulation, like a spy novel, or want to experience the freedom of college and boarding schools vicariously, read about Frankie Landau-Banks.