I think We Were Liars was possible one of the best books I have read this year. It had a great narrator, an amazing setting and the plot twists were out of this world. So when I saw The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart, I immediately bought it and started reading it on the tube ride home.
Frankie is my new favourite narrator
I love YA books (obviously), but at times I get so annoyed by the females in the book. They are either heart-eyed naive girls who get used or bitches who don't let anyone close to them. That's not real life - real life is about girls who are both; they fall in love, but are still strong.
Cue Frankie, the teenage narrator you can't help but fall in love with. She goes to a prestigious boarding school called Alabaster and discovers that there is a secret society there. How to become a member? Be from a wealthy family (think Nate Archibald from Gossip Girl) and be a man. Yup, even though the school is mixed, only guys are allowed to become members of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds and Frankie's dad used to be a one of the important members.
Nowadays the society doesn't really do much, but Frankie's new boyfriend Matthew Livingston is still a member and refuses to tell Frankie that the society even exist. Unfortunately for him, Frankie isn't the average girlfriend that takes no for an answer. She decides to follow Matthew to a society meeting and then even decides to get secretly involved...
Which is why I love Frankie so much; she doesn't dump Matthew, because she is strong and doesn't need a man blabla, nor does she just accept his "no there is no society" as a truth. She keeps him, because she likes him, but also goes digging for answers herself.
My timing of reading this book is perfect, since it centres mostly about feminism and that has been the hot word of the past few months. Frankie is not happy with the patriarchy in her school, which is very strongly present, and decides to change things. She doesn't label herself a feminist, she's not even consciously doing things to improve the position of women, it is just her nature. And that's a true feminist for me. She's just not happy being the underdog, only being 'cute and sweet', but not worthy of the secret society. When I have children, I'll give them this book to show them how unfair the world can function and how you can change it. Don't just talk about it, but do stuff in your own environment to open people's eyes.
Though this book still has plot twists and unexpected events, it was a lot more predictable than We Were Liars, which means (at least for me) that a lot more of the reading experience had to come from good writing. With We Were Liars, you wanted to keep reading because you had to know what was happening. With The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks I kept reading, because the writing was so good. Besides a strong Frankie, the side-characters were all well-rounded too. Matthew is the cool guy, who then clearly seems to have some issues. There is his friend Alpha, who is (surprise!) the alpha male of the Basset Hounds and who is just a mess of contradiction. We see, through Frankie's eyes, how contradicting Alpha is, but there is enough mystery left to keep you wondering - and praying for a book about Alpha! To get a reader involved with all the characters in a book is the ultimate sign of a good writer and E Lockhart doesn't disappoint.
Empty feeling after finishing it
However, do you know that feeling that you just finished a book and feel empty? You put the book down and feel like the story wasn't, couldn't, be done. There was so much more left and you needed more resolution. This is what I got from this story. Now I know this is often a deliberate choice from the author (Gone Girl is the perfect example of this), but I just don't like it. Frankie does whatever she does and then we get a small glimpse in her life after that, but that's it. I wanted so much more. Does she go off to college? Does she change the world? What does Frankie do?! I just wanted a bit more at the end of the book.
Is it really a surprise that this book is a five out of five? I ADORED Frankie, I loved the feminist undertone in this story and my only complain is that I didn't get enough of the story, which only means I really loved it. I think it is a must-read for every YA lover and just every person who wants to see their world a tiny bit differently.