Book Review: The Revenge Playbook
By: Rachael Allen
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Football is one of my most favorite things. I love when the air starts to get a bit of a chill and stadium lights spark on. You can find me watching football pretty much every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the season. I couldn't resist picking this one up because of the football connection. Don't let the football scare you away if you're not a sports fan. There are several football players who play pivotal roles in the plot, but there is no actual football games taking place. This novel is about so much more than a sport.
The novel follows four girls: Ana, Melanie Jane, Liv, and Peyton. At the beginning, none of these girls are friends. In fact, Ana and Melanie Jane have some serious issues with one another. They used to be best friends, but one night changed everything. Ana can't forgive Melanie Jane for not understanding and sticking by her while Melanie Jane thinks Ana betrayed her. All that begins to change when the football team revs up for the fall season.
The Revenge Playbook is intensely character driven. The narration style bounces between past and present while rotating among the girls; it took some getting used to, but I found it was a compelling way to allow they story to unfold. The style allowed me to piece together information on each of the girls and learn about her in a more authentic way. People don't just unload every thing about themselves in a first meeting. Friendships are forged over time. It was nice to learn about the characters in a more gradual, realistic manner.
I'll be the first to admit that not all high school football players are angels. I can recall quite a few from my day who weren't the nicest of people, but the ones in this novel take the cake. The majority of these guys are jerks who use girls, manipulate their teachers, and find ways to always look like the perfect role model for the town. The actions and decisions of these guys are never called into question. In fact, often when they do something blatantly wrong, everyone just looks the other way because boys will be boys. It's this gender double standard that sadly pervades high school hallways. I hate that any group would be treated differently and at the expense of others.
Ana, Melanie Jane, Liv, and Peyton all have reasons to want to punish the boys from the team. Each one of the girls has faced something pretty rotten as a result of the team's actions. While I didn't condone everything the girls did in their quest for retribution, I was firmly on their side. There are some rough subjects that are touched on in this one including sexual assault, slut shaming, and objectification of women. These behaviors are not acceptable and need to be stopped. I appreciated the statements against the behaviors and the gender double standard that dominated The Revenge Playbook.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel was the friendship that forms between the four girls. They learn that their differences can make their group a stronger unit. The experience of completing the dares in order to beat the boys brings the girls closer together and teaches them to be strong. I loved that they united to stop a bullying force and shed light on serious issues at their school. I admired the strength and courage of each of the girls.
It should be noted that this is not a male bashing book. There are some awesome male characters, like Rey and Michael, who provide positive examples for how teen guys should treat girls. I also liked Trevor by the end of the novel, but it took awhile. I had to see certain things unfold because my first impression of him was less than stellar.
Lastly, in spite of the serious nature of some of the elements, I also found that this novel was littered with hilarious moments. Laughter always helps to take the edge off when you are reading a novel with realistic, serious tones. The girl power crawls off the page and infects your mind. I'll leave you with this quotation that sums up how I feel about this novel - "I think you are secretly hiding a honey badger under all that sweetness" (Kindle Location 2804). It's time a lot more girls went honey badger against unfair treatment and sexism.
One Last Gripe: My biggest complaint was Ana's situation and how it was handled. I'm sure things like that do happen, sadly, so it was realistic, but it bothered me. The scene with her counselor enraged and saddened me.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The strong bonds that form between the girls
First Sentence: You will complete the following 14 dates - one for every game the Panther football team won last year.
Favorite Character: This is difficult because I loved all of the girls, but I'm going with Peyton.
Least Favorite Character: Chad - ugh
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.
Don’t get mad, get even!
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.