In all honesty, I picked this one up because I thought it’d be DIFFERENT.
I mean, on the outset, it does look different from my usual reads: a contemporary coming-of-age novel (or at least, that’s how it’s marketed, but I saw it as a mystery contemporary; to me, at least, the labeling is just bizzare), and, most importantly, it’s written by an Australian author. I, as an American, thought this will be an opportunity to experience something NEW, setting-wise. We have enough YA books set in the US as it is. So bring on the Aussie culture, please.
Plot-wise, the novel is wholly character-driven, leaning hard into the mystery genre. Frankie barely has enough time to get to know her half-brother, Xavier, before he disappears. And she tasks herself with finding him. The entire plot, therefore, depends on Frankie’s progress, sometimes hindered by being grounded from leaving home to do her sleuthing, so the pacing was uneven and a bit jagged But that’s to be expected when it’s a mystery novel (not so in a coming-of-age one, but let’s go with my label to prevent any more misplaced expectations, okay? Okay.)
I must admit I liked Frankie herself, albeit for all the wrong reasons. She’s impulsive, loud, sarcastic, a bit insensitive – not a good combo I like in my heroines, thank you – but I must admit I like her cynical sense of humor that was actually funny. Always bonus points on funny books, because it’s kinda hard to make me laugh. But this book did, and for that, I enjoyed it.
Some things, though, I was not a fan of. One: setting an entire book on the disappearance of a character we barely got to meet. Yes, some readers are compassionate enough to care about a character who is nothing more than a plot device to get the plot ball rolling. I ain’t one of those readers. Xavier needed flashbacks, perhaps a shift in POV to his in a couple of chapters, anything to flesh him out a bit. The book’s not that long – it could’ve been added. And I wouldn’t have complained.
And two: the romance felt last-minute. There really was no substance to the relationship, and Nate leaned a bit too hard into the signature Pretty-Boy-With-Tragic-Backstory™ trope. Save us both, please, and just keep ’em as friends.
Did these knock some stars off the rating? Oh yes they did.
We need a positive in here. Wait while I dig one up, please:
I wholly believe the most interesting part of the novel was it’s setting. Yes, there were many Aussie slang words I had no idea what they meant, but hey, that’s what I was looking for, wasn’t I? It was great. In that respect – and we’ll consider this to be world-building – this book excelled much-ly.
So all in all? I liked FRANKIE, but didn’t love it. Quick, entertaining read, and one with a healthy dose of humor.
Plus, that watercolor cover is absolutely gorgeous. (Yes, that needed to be addressed).