The Revenge Playbook – Rachael Allen



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.

My Thoughts

This book gave me my new favourite word – Backpfeifengesicht – a German word meaning a face that desperately needs to get punched. I know a lot of people like this. Within the first chapter of this book, the entire football team fit this description exceptionally well. Even as I write this, I am still seething with rage. This review is going to be more of a discussion – because this is a discussion that NEEDS to happen. Yes, I will talk about the book, but this will not be objective by any means. I need to talk about this, and I need to talk about this now.

The Revenge Playbook is a perfect YA novel for laying out the groundwork of feminist anit-rape culture theory for young teens – any young teens. The language used by the football team to discuss the young women, who are our main characters, makes me absolutely sick. And yet, this is the norm. Not only in high school, or in sports culture, but this is the norm everywhere – I see it every day – and this needs to stop. NOW. Immediately.

The girls in this book take on quite the task – they want to take the football team down a peg. They want an end to the preferential treatment, to the absolute horrendous hazing and bullying, and to their abhorrent treatment of women. The message is a strong one – what these boys do, and how they act and speak, is not okay, it is not normal, and it should never be perceived as such. Ever.

How these boys act and speak doesn’t end after high school – trust me. It isn’t okay then, and it certainly isn’t okay in adulthood. The young women in this book know this – they know themselves. And they will not stand by and watch it happen. Now, I could go on a rant here about how everyone, everywhere, should be like these young women and stand up to patriarchal notions of sexism and misogyny. But I won’t do that. Because we already know this.

However, I didn’t learn this until my mid-twenties. Had I read a book like this when I was a teenager navigating the extremely unpleasant hallways of my three high schools (yeah, I went to three, and they all sucked), maybe I would have learned that I wasn’t inferior earlier in life. That would have been absolutely bloody fantastic.

The Revenge Playbook handles themes of feminism, rape culture, “Locker room talk” (even typing that made me feel ill), misogyny and sexism with grace. These women never once doubt themselves – which is super important – in their mission to try to change culturally appropriated norms and behaviour that are inherently dehumanizing and, well, just plain disgusting.

This is a brilliant book, with a range of characters that can appeal to just about anyone. For me, most importantly, this book is unapologetic about how disturbing, disgusting, and toxic misogyny is. And that gives it an A+ in my books.


~ by Aubrey Smith on December 29, 2016.

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