Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Monday, 19 January 2015

24187511The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Released: 1st January 2015
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher/Netgalley
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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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 Landau-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.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

In some ways, we can see Frankie Landau-Banks as a neglected positive. A buried word. A word inside another word that's getting all the attention. A mind inside a body that's getting all the attention.

This E. Lockhart novel is certainly different to her best-selling mystery We Were Liars, though I could still see her distinct style coming through on every page. Although The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a book that didn't blow me away completely, it was still an interesting take on the evolution of a teenage girl within the intricate social milieu of an elite boarding school. 

She was not only worried about losing her boyfriend's affection. She was worried about losing her status with his friends. 

Frankie's desire to be noticed and ultimate quest for appraisal was something that did come across as her being 'needy' at first, though I did come to realise that it is in some cases an accurate representation of how teenage girls may feel. The storyline chronicles her relationship with Matthew, who is older and 'cooler', with a clique of friends that Frankie longs to be part of. I could sense a hint of satire in Frankie's way of thinking, and her sharp wit and logical thinking soon dispels any notions of her being a lovesick-boy-crazed teenager. 

Frankie's mind is a word overlooked, but when uncovered - through invention, imagination, or recollection - it wields a power that is comical, surprising, and memorable.

Exploring the inner-workings of the social hierarchy was interesting to a point, though there were a few tangents at the beginning that slowed down the plot in places. I expected the storyline to be a little bit more edgy (if that explains it) in places with perhaps a darker undertone, but it did stagnate on the lighter end of the spectrum. Even so, throughout Frankie's escapades and detective-work to look into how the 'Basset-Hounds' really operated, I was kept engaged and wanted to know what would happen next.

It was a fundamental element of her character. Life as it was presently occurring was not acceptable to her. Were she to mellow out - would she not become obedient? Would she not stay on the path that stretched ahead of her, nicely bricked?
She did not get much out of therapy.

What people will either love or hate about this book is E. Lockhart's writing style. There's something inadvertently gripping about it, as it seems to be speaking to you personally. It's not exactly conversational, but the references to the reader in various places does definitely draw you in. I love the sophistication in the areas where Frankie is devising her next plan, and by the finish it felt satisfying to know how everybody had ended up.

It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.


Featuring a sassy heroine and a dash of feminism, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a novel that E. Lockhart fans should definitely check out. If you want a glimpse into the students of a preppy private school rebelling against the system with a sardonic twist, then this is for you.


  1. I'm curious about this book because I loved We Were Liars, but I'm also a little afraid. I've read quite a few negative reviews and I'm honestly not sure if I'll enjoy it... I'm glad you liked it, this has given me more hope :) Thanks for reviewing!

    1. I always say to give something a try if there's a chance you'll like it. Although it's not perfect, this book definitely has its positives!

  2. I haven't been hearing many positive things about this book, so I'm glad you liked it, Eugenia! From the quotes you posted, the writing style seems quite interesting, and I wonder how a whole novel written in such a way would pan out. I bought this title for about $1 on Amazon, so I am still quite keen to read it, despite the flaws I have read about!

    1. E. Lockharts writing style is definitely a unique one! Hope you end up enjoying it Chiara :)

  3. I'm really keen in seeing what this book is like, especially after reading and loving We Were Liars. I'm warned that it's quite different to that book, and I like how you pointed out the social hierarchy theme in here. Thanks for sharing Genie!

    1. You're welcome Jeann :) I think this is definitely a book that has more to it than what meets the eye at first.

  4. Oooh interesting! I've got this on the review pile as well, so I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it overall Eugenia. I wasn't a huge fan of We Were Liars (too predictable), so it'd be interesting to see how this book goes. I really hope it's not as cliche as it sounds!!

    1. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you think of it Joy :) For me, in some aspects it is a tad predictable, but it's one of those books that when you look beyond first appearances it can have a genuine message.

  5. Hhhmmm, I haven't heard much about this book so it's good to hear that it was good overall. Although I didn't enjoy We Were Liars, this one sounds really different so I'll have to read it soon!

    1. Although the writing style is similar, the concept is very different - hope you like it Laura :)


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