Release Date: 16th June 2015
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Don’t get mad, get even! In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.
In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.
Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.
I like to think of The Revenge Playbook as a Frankie Landau-Banks light. It’s Frankie without the sharp insight into patriarchal power structures, a kind of Dare Me without teenage girls who are dangerous and fascinating. I mean, that’s not to say I didn’t like it exactly, but it definitely reads like a marketable ~~feminist~~ book. Look at these teenage girls turning the tables on the boys – so rad, so powerful and you know, that’s cool but for these kind of books to work for me they need to have meaning and depth. And yeah, I want to feel the anger pour off the pages because as a woman, I know the struggles these characters go through because like many of us, I have first-hand experience. That being said, for the most part, I had fun reading this.
So, The Revenge Playbook takes place in a small town wherein the high school football team rules over everything.
Teachers pass them, the local police look the other way, crowds turn out for every game…these boys are treated like royalty wherever they go. For the lucky few who are accepted into the team, there are ~rules~. The senior players hand down a mandate to the junior players which states that they must either sleep with their girlfriends (in one case) or break up with them immediately because these girls just don’t live up to the ~standard~. Enter our main characters, each of whom experiences the fallout from this mandate. Spurned by their exes, humiliated in school, these girls decide to play the boys at their own game and win. The football team has a tradition – each year the team must do a set of dares in a given amount of time, which the girls do too (and better). I really enjoyed the rebellion in these actions – girls taking on a time honoured tradition and fighting back by playing the game. What I didn’t like so much was how the game ends – what the girls do at the end of the book feels flat; honestly, it frustrated me because this story is ostensibly about these girls taking back the power denied them by the boys in their town, and that they just…give that up says to me that while this book was fine with playing with the idea of challenging a patriarchal system, it’s not interested in dismantling it.
The four main characters are all fun, spunky girls who respect each other. Melanie-Jane was my favourite because of the whole ‘no sex before marriage’ sass – it’s not very often in teenage fiction that you get a character whose religious beliefs are portrayed positively. I think it’s important to have a discourse in YA that talks about sex positively but that also respects the other side. Teenage girls need to know that whatever they choose to do is okay, and more so that they are allowed to choose for themselves. Melanie-Jane chooses for herself over and over again – she leaves her boyfriend because he expects her to sleep with him and talks in public about how he shamed her choices; it’s fabulous. I also liked Ana, but she is a character this book does not know what to do. Her background is so dark that the story almost collapses from the weight of it. Ana is a victim of sexual assault – she was roofied by a member of the football team and when she comes clean, is outright shunned and hated by the student body. A counsellor goes so far as to tell her that no-one will believe her story. And this is what I mean when I say that this book is very ‘light’ – at no point is her trauma really addressed, or the horror of what this boy does to her ever discussed. A few pranks does not even the ‘score’. Her storyline is not handled well at all and everything is brushed under the rug by the end of the book so that things can be wrapped up neatly.
Yeah, so this isn’t a bad book but I’m not really sure if I would recommend it to anyone with similar interests to mine. But if you’re looking for a fun, girly read this could be something you’d potentially enjoy.