Review: The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Revenge Playbook by Rachael AllenThe Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
Published by HarperTeen on June 16, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-stars

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 adored Rachael Allen’s debut, 17 First Kisses, and her second novel proves that she’s here to stay on my list of favorites. Allen is a local author, and she just so happens to be super sweet too, which is a plus. I’m a little sad that The Revenge Playbook moves to Tennessee for a setting, because I love when books are set in my city, as her first was. The Revenge Playbook, like Allen’s debut, puts the focus on female friendships and the abuses of the patriarchy, but also doesn’t feel too heavy.

If you’re a Courtney Summers fan, I’d recommend trying Rachael Allen’s novels. They’re a bit fluffier than Courtney’s while also unflinchingly looking at rape culture. Obviously, that can only be so fluffy, considering that I definitely teared up at the end and felt healthy rage throughout, but I think Allen keeps the tone from getting too dark. I definitely think Summers is a better comparison than Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski from the blurb.

Allen does this by time skipping between the current timeline where the girls are running through the list of dares and trying to beat the football team at their own shenanigans to prove a point and the weeks leading up to that. The scavenger hunt dares are ridiculous and silly, and it’s so much fun to watch the girls complete them. It is also totally fabulous the way the girls take the horrible sexist ones and change them to be about men.

Peyton, Ana, Melanie Jane, and Liv all get together to try to take the football team down a notch. They all have their own reasons to be pissed about the actions of the patriarchy. Mel Jay and Liv were both dumped by their boyfriends on the team because they did not meet with the team’s approval, because they think Liv is a slut and that Mel Jay’s determination not to have sex until marriage makes her an unacceptable girlfriend. Peyton, who has ADHD and struggles to pay attention in class, hates the preferential treatment the football players get: extensions without docked points, assistance from the teacher, and a free pass to be obnoxious in class. Ana was raped by a guy on the football team.

My only issue with the four girls is that I did have a bit of trouble keeping their four first person perspectives clear in my head. I really loved the issues tackled in each perspective, because it shows a huge range of common insults and abuses thrown at women. I really liked all of the book, but I would have had way more feels if the perspectives were a bit more distinct.

When the girls start their mission, they’re not friends, but obviously they bond throughout the weeks of plotting. One of my favorite things is when people who were not friends have to team up to complete a common goal. I love watching them get to know one another past the reputation and assumptions to find that everyone actually is a real person with diverse interests.

Allen really excels at capturing teens and high school, which means that it’s not the most flattering portrayal. As the girls’ motivations should tell you, there’s bullying and unfair treatment all over the place. There is also a lot of slut-shaming throughout the novel, occasionally even by the heroines because this is a journey. The overall message is very much sex positive, virgin positive, and staunchly against the rape culture in the US.

Peppered throughout, there is indeed a bit of romance for those of us who live for ships. Of the four girls, two end up with boyfriends, and one has a potential love interest down the line. I really like that Allen resisted pairing them all up, because that sometimes happens, and it’s a bit too much romance, even for me. It’s still not the shippiest book, but one of the guys, Michael, is super wonderful.

The Revenge Playbook is another fabulous read from Rachael Allen. She is awesome, her books are awesome, and you guys should check them out.

Favorite Quote:

“The Cyrus-Swift Phenomenon. Taylor Swift has had, like, eighteen boyfriends, but everyone still thinks she’s really classy because she’s just so poised and sweet and appropriate-looking. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus was with the same guy for practically forever, and people are always calling her a slut. And I’m not saying we should be calling T. Swift a slut instead—even if you do date a lot of guys, you don’t deserve that. What I’m saying is, when it comes to popular opinion, it’s all about the persona.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif one tree hill brooke

8 responses to “Review: The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen”

  1. Lesley says:

    I wasn’t sure but that quote decides it! (And the GIF of B Davis doesn’t hurt either) Glad you enjoyed.
    Lesley recently posted…Since We Last SpokeMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yessss, excellent choice. Rachael Allen’s books are so great, and they put a real emphasis on female friendships over romance. 🙂

  2. Dahlia Adler says:

    I was already dying to read this one but I’m always glad to hear more love! YAY for great YA friendship novels!!
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Blog tour: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas (Interview + Giveaway!)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yesssss. My mission is to get more people to read Rachael Allen because her books are great and she is soooooo sweet.

  3. Brigid says:

    THAT QUOTE. Holy hell. This book speaks to the feminist Brigid so damn much. I need. I die. I perish for this book.

  4. Hannah says:

    Ah, that quote is everything. Definitely adding this to my TBR. GIRL POWER!
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Openly Straight by Bill KonigsbergMy Profile

  5. Lyn Kaye says:

    If you’re a Courtney Summers fan, I’d recommend trying Rachael Allen’s novels.
    ^

    Sold.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Epic Recs: JuneMy Profile

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