Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Hot Key Books (6 Nov. 2014)
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
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.
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.
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Quirky titles are my kryptonite and one of the main reasons as to why I pick up a book and of course with a title like this, who could resist?! I’ve previously only read one other book by Lockhart and despite people’s rave reviews of it, sadly me and her writing really did not get along and of course that book is the infamous, We Were Liars (the review for which can be found here). But nonetheless, I picked this book up with excitement, ready to give Lockhart another go. But alas, twas not meant to be with me and this author.
While I loved the premise and the idea behind the story, a secret society, infiltration and pranks, the book didn’t live up to the idea I had of it in my head. Yet this time, it wasn’t the writing that broke me, but rather the characters and execution.
I felt like me and Frankie (the protagonist) could really get along - she was funny, witty, smart, self aware - and that self awareness was refreshing and intriguing - until that is, the character succumbs to the very things she criticises. Example. The almost contradictory way in which she loves being with Matthew yet says she feels like she’s trapped in a box by being with him. Also it’s mentioned how she hates the way he views her, as some pretty thing, arm candy – yet remains with him, and in a sense it’s like she wants to be that person just to please him, just to be seem like the “cool” girl. Her view and knowledge of patriarchy and the panopticon, shows that yes, she has a good understanding of everything yet follows the very thing she questions. I guess in a way her self awareness is a good thing - yet shouldn’t that lead to her altering her actions on the basis of her thoughts and principles? I don’t know where I’m getting at with this, maybe I’m reading too far into the whole issue.
I think another thing that bothered me, or rather what could have been the better path to follow, was rather than constructing these pranks in an effort to undermine the society and show them up, I truly felt like it would have served her character better, to set up a society of her own and display her strength in that way. Because she had the drive, she had a hunger that pushed her forward throughout the book, she could prove that she was someone, of her own standing, not needed to be defined by someone else – specifically a guy – yet she still hungers to be part of her boys and their group. Also the need to show that she’s capable of being part of the secret society, yet in the end her downfall came from the fact that really all she wanted as to be a part of the boys groups (despite her feminist speech halfway into the book), to be one of them to be accepted by them - and I guess I was hoping given her self awareness and drive, she could have evolved into a stronger character that decides she can build her own group, be her own anchor to leave behind a different kind of legacy.
Zada, her sister, got the whole issue of mine with the book nailed down in a nutshell - "Don't stress over this, Frankie. It's okay if Matthew's in some dumb drinking club that you're not in. Just let him be in it and go do your own thing.” Yet Frankie seems to be too busy dictating her actions around the guys, Matthew and Alpha. Alpha, is another thorn in my side - he’s described as this hardcore, genius, legend - yet he just seems like this average kid who sounds like a bit of a douche at points and doesn’t live up to the hype.
I also felt saddened by the fact that she exposes the existence of this secret society, one her father had guarded and was meant to stay hidden in order to evolve, but alas, guess that couldn’t be helped given the events that unfolded. I really did want to like this book, because I felt like it could have been brilliantly done - but the execution and the wrap-up at the end left something to be desired to the story.