I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
Published by HarperTeen on June 16th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
Last year, Rachael Allen’s debut got a pretty mixed response within the YA blogging community, but as my closest friends loved it, she definitely got on my radar. So when The Revenge Playbook popped up on Edelweiss, with the premise being female friends teaming up to take revenge on the football team, I couldn’t resist. It sounded like just the kind of summer fluff I needed in my life. And I was 100% correct. This book is absolutely excellent.
The Revenge Playbook tells the story of four unlikely friends, Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana, who spontaneously team up against the football team. Why? The guys from the football team are given ridiculous preferential treatment at school, and they have outrageous frat boy-like restrictions and rituals, which end up getting a lot of girls’ hearts broken. First off: wow. This story is important. This book showcases a lot of the institutionalized sexism that is so rampant in our society today. Liv is dumped by her footballer boyfriend because the team deemed her “too slutty” – even though he’s the only one she’s had sex with. Mel Jay is dumped by her boyfriend because she’s determined to wait to have sex until marriage. Ana was raped by one of the football players. And Peyton suffers the distractions and harassment of the football players at school while struggling with her ADHD and seeing the guys unfairly getting extensions and help on tests. These issues are infuriating, yet it’s so realistic, and I’m so glad this book is bringing them to light.
But really this book is all about friendship to me. I’ve realized lately that one thing I’m growing absolutely incredibly tired of in YA is the mean girl / bitchy best friend trope. Can. We. Not. It’s old and tired, and I would like to just see girls getting along and supporting each other. That is precisely what The Revenge Playbook did. These four girls come from different backgrounds – familial, socioeconomical, racial, and religious – for one common purpose. And along the way they become a trusted support system for each other. There is zero judgment among them. They may not always agree with or understand each other’s choices, but they (eventually) 100% respect each other and their agency. Honestly, at times I almost felt weepy because I wished so badly that I’d had friends like this in high school.
Inherent in the premise, there’s also a rather fun part to this story, because the girls go on a scavenger hunt of dares against the boys to steal their prized football. Through time jumps you see how they ended up together, their first attempts at revenge, their planning for the ultimate takedown, and then the scavenger hunt. It felt kind of like awesome teen romcoms like John Tucker Must Die and Mean Girls, with a great adventurous aspect that brought the lols, perfect for a summer read. However, with the girls’ individual histories with the football team, there was a lot of depth there too that made the story get pretty emotional in the long run (Ana’s storyline, oh god, here come the tears).
I think the only thing that keeps me from giving this a perfect score is the fact that with the four different points of view and the time jumps, it was initially confusing at times and harder to really feel a strong connection to the individual characters. That’s not to say that I don’t like them or that their voices are too similar, but I would forget details, like what precisely Liv’s family situation was or what Peyton’s hair color was – things like that. It sounds a bit trivial, but it means it wasn’t the most vivid, engrossing picture, and particularly it meant that I didn’t fiercely ship any of the romantic ships. I just didn’t get enough time with them. However, at the end of the day, I feel that this book is about friendship and feminism, and it succeeded in conveying those beautiful messages so well that I hardly even care.
I do want to take a moment to praise the amazing families in this book – particularly the dads. I’m a daddy’s girl, and this definitely gave me some father-daughter feels. ALSO: I really liked the shout-out at the end to Lilah Montgomery from Emery Lord’s Open Road Summer. What a brilliant Easter egg for YA book nerds 🙂