Arts Reviews

E. Lockhart: In Review

Gemma Cockrell

Gemma Cockrell received a boxset of five E. Lockhart novels for Christmas so, naturally, she decided to rank and review them. Here are her thoughts.

I’ll admit, it was TikTok’s obsession with We Were Liars that inspired me to read E. Lockhart’s novels. I was originally going to just purchase that singular book alone, but when I found the boxset for a great price, I simply had to ask for it for Christmas. Unfortunately, the boxset didn’t include E. Lockhart’s latest book Again, Again, but it was made up of all five of her other standalone novels. With some of her lesser-known releases receiving mixed reviews online, I was excited to check them out for myself, so here is how I would rank and rate them all, from worst to best.

5 – Fly On The Wall (2008)

I have a feeling that this book was intended for someone who is a bit younger than I am, and I definitely don’t think I’m part of the target audience. The plot involves teenager called Gretchen who turns into a fly which is trapped in the boy’s locker room of her school. However, we never get an explanation as to how this happens, probably because E. Lockhart realised it was entirely impossible to come up with a feasible one. Also, there were multiple parts that made me cringe so much that I had to skip past them entirely. It had some redeeming qualities, including emphasis on the ongoing homophobia and sexism epidemic in secondary schools, as well as male body insecurities. But beyond that, it didn’t have much to offer.

4 – Genuine Fraud (2017)

To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this one. It was unlike any other book I’ve ever read, in the sense that the story was told backwards. Yes, you read that correctly. It started at Chapter 17, and reversed its way back to Chapter 1, with the final chapter, Chapter 18, at the end.

It is advertised as being a mystery/suspense/thriller novel, which is misleading. There is no actual mystery or suspense, because the ending is revealed at the beginning. And then nothing too notable happened at the end in Chapter 18 either. So, overall, I don’t really know what to think. The characters were interesting, as was the plot, but the way the book was written simply diminished all of its impact for me. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen… but it had all already happened at the start. It was a clever and interesting concept, but it just missed the mark for me.

two and a half stars

3 – Dramarama (2007)

My first impression of this book from reading only the first few pages was that it made me cringe. The characters were introduced as teenagers who were calling themselves by fake stage names, heading to summer drama camp, convinced that they were going to turn into stars overnight. However, as the plot developed, their insecurities were exposed, and they became much more likeable in their new humble state as they realised just how harsh and brutal the real world can be. It may sound harsh to be saying that I enjoyed seeing them suffer in this way, but what I really mean is that their flaws made them much more interesting, realistic and likeable as characters. Just like Fly On The Wall, this would definitely be more suited to a younger reader than my 20-year-old self, but I did still think the book was a fun and light-hearted read, which I found myself finishing very quickly.

2 – The Disreputable History Of Frankie Landau-Banks (2008)

Probably aimed at someone slightly younger than myself

The Disreputable History Of Frankie Landau-Banks tells the story of boarding school student Frankie Landau-Banks, one of the most likeable and empowering female characters I have encountered in modern teenage and young adult literature. Even though Frankie is ostensibly welcomed into her boyfriend’s friendship group, she still feels like an outsider due to her gender, and embarks on a powerful and slightly risky scheme to prove that she should not be underestimated. Again, like some of E. Lockhart’s other early novels that I have mentioned, I felt that it was probably aimed at someone slightly younger than myself, but despite this, I still enjoyed both the plot and the characters, and it is definitely a worthy read.

1 – We Were Liars (2014)

This book is E. Lockhart’s most well-known, and deservedly so. Becoming a staple novel frequently recommended by TikTok’s ‘BookTok’ community, We Were Liars is a unique story about a rich family who spend every summer on a private island. It chiefly follows four members of the family: Johnny, Mirren, Gat, and the narrator, Cady, who is experiencing amnesia due to a mysterious accident she had on the island during one of the previous summers. The highlight of the story is the unexpected twist at the end of this quick-paced novel, which is sure to catch you completely off guard – even though I’ve told you that there is one, you won’t see it coming, I promise. It lived up to its hype for me, and I would definitely consider it E. Lockhart’s best work.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. No changes made to this image. Permission to use granted to Impact.

In-article images courtesy of @elockhartbooks via No changes made to these images.

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