The Punk Factor, Rebecca Denton


“One, two, three, four.” It was a goddamn mess – but it was beautiful

Seventeen-year-old Frankie is obsessed with what everyone else is thinking. She can keep up with the chat – from feminism to boys with tattoos – but when it comes to her own ideas, it’s not so easy to hide her lack of confidence.

With the help of her best friend, Haruna, Frankie forms a punk rock girl band to attract the attention of Doc – her spiky-haired, joint-smoking ex-boyfriend. But in her efforts to make the band a success and get Doc to notice her, Frankie starts to care less about what he thinks and more about how much she loves making very loud music. She finally feels a glimpse of who she can be, independent of anyone else.

* * *
3 / 5

The Punk Factor made me feel things. It made me hate the main character Frankie, for being so self-obsessed and lusting after her useless ex all the time, and it made me root for her. This is an angry book; for the content itself the book felt rather adult – casual drug usage, lots of drinking, sex, pregnancy, etc. – but the writing and school setting was classic YA. Definitely one for the older readers, I reckon.

Frankie had hatched a plan, and Aimee was the poor mug who would be strong-armed into helping. This was how Frankie got things done

Frankie forms a punk rock girl band for pretty much the sole purpose of attracting her musician, drug-smoking, good-for-nothing ex-boyfriend who none of her friends like. Frankie has never really stuck to anything, and she’s crap at the guitar and bad at practicing. She’s selfish and needy and wild and she felt like a real, rebellious teenage girl who doesn’t really have much to rebel about – I feel like I’ve known a few Frankies and you probably have too.

Then there’s her best friend, Haruna, a girl who doesn’t know her real father and whose abusive step-father has got her mother caught up in a religious cult. She’s tiptoeing around, trying to survive until graduation. Both girl’s are pretty different – Haruna is definitely the more sympathetic character of the two and it’s great that she gets some chapters of her own – but they are tied together by their growing love of music. As Frankie throws herself into the band it becomes less about her good-for-nothing-ex (so glad he gets thrown over) and more about freedom; as Haruna plays the drums it’s about making noise and being heard.

This is a very readable book but I reckon it will be a bit divisive. On the one hand, the cast feels very real, like real, wild, irresponsible and weirdly motivated teenage girls. On the other, Frankie comes off as brash, entitled, and mean. I liked her “arc” and I wasn’t that fussed by the drinking and MDMA, but I think Haruna needed more support and more page-time.

Also this book is part of a series but it read fine as a standalone. I have not read any other books in the trilogy.

My thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. 

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