The Plain Janes

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Editorial Reviews

Suzanne D'Amato
The authors are skillful at capturing the rudderless intensity of high school years. The girls imagine themselves bold art provocateurs, but is really about 21st-century adolescence at its most mundane. Class is boring. Parents don't understand. Jane forms a crush on a guy whose shaggy hair and vintage jeans hold her in thrall. To fans of action-packed plotting, these chronicles may sound as mild as school cafeteria food. But the book feels modern precisely because it rejects so many cliches about teenage Sturm und Drang.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

DC Comics' imprint of graphic novels for girls, Minx, starts off with a bang with this elegant story of art in the suburbs. As Jane walks past a sidewalk café in Metro City, a terrorist's bomb goes off. Her parents, overtaken by fear, move the family to the small town of Kent Waters. The popular girls at Buzz Aldrin High court her, but Jane wants to be an outsider. She finds three other girls named Jane, all of them unpopular in different ways—one is "Brain Jane," one an aspiring actress and one an athlete—and together the four of them make "art attacks" on the city, leaving the name P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) wherever they go. They build pyramids on the site of a planned strip mall ("The pyramids lasted for thousands of years. Do you think this strip mall will?") and populate the police department's lawn with gnomes. But to a community consumed with elevated threat levels, the attacks seem more ominous than generous, and P.L.A.I.N. becomes an outlaw group. All the while, Jane continues to write letters to John Doe, the unidentified man whose life she saved during the bombing—and who sits in a hospital, comatose, his sketchbook serving as her muse. Castellucci (Boy Proof) and Rugg (co-creator of Street Angel) nimbly make their larger point—that fear is an indulgence we must give ourselves permission to overcome—without ever preaching, and without neglecting the dynamics of a page-turning coming-of-age story. Ages 12-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT - Jennifer Feigelman
After a bomb rips through fabled Metro City, Jane is forced to move to the suburbs. This event acts as the catalyst that makes her re-examine her life and begin to make changes. The once long-tressed, fair-haired Jane cuts off all her locks and dyes them black. Wanting to find a more substantial group of friends, she forgoes the popular airheads at her new school—reminiscent of her Metro City friends—and attempts to befriend a group of girls who are, coincidentally, all named Jane. With Jane's love of art, the girls form a secret girl gang called PLAIN—People Loving Art in Neighborhoods—and set out to make their world a better place, until the town, still fearful after the recent attacks, retaliates in a hysterical panic. Minx, DC's new graphic novel imprint for girls, has picked a winner for its debut. Rugg's art and Castellucci's writing form a seamless blend that perfectly captures the experiences of a teenage girl in a post 9/11 world. It's sparsely worded, but the art depicts scenes with a mastery of teen life; in an opening scene in which Jane has moved into her new suburban neighborhood, she lies in the grass as a bird sings gaily overhead and wryly thinks to herself, "I'm in hell." Jane is a superbly developed heroine for teen girls; she is not afraid to be herself or take risks. Akin to a teen novel, this graphic novel will appeal to seasoned and new graphic novel readers. Janes is an absolute triumph—highly recommended for all school and public libraries.
Library Journal

In Re-Gifters, fiery Korean teen Dixie woos hapkido dojang-mate Adam with an expensive gift, but Adam's heartthrob is glam-girl Megan. Meanwhile, Dixie's fighting spirit gets the attention of school bad boy, loan shark, and bookmaker Tomas, a.k.a. Dillinger. Affections change as the gift changes hands, and when Adam tries to get Dixie to throw the hapkido championship, Dixie is ready to respond to Tomas's real affection and support despite his reputation. This delightful martial arts romantic comedy shows fine plotting, simpatico characters, and fluid, manga-influenced art. The Plain Janestells a more complex and darker tale with plainer, Dan Clowes-style art. Caught in a terrorist attack, high schooler Jane changes hair, mindset, and-compelled by her frightened parents-city and school. Spurning the in-crowd, she recruits other outcast Janes to stage guerilla-style art attacks, tagged P.L.A.I.N.: People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. The hyperparanoid authorities are not amused, but P.L.A.I.N. wins over most of the other kids. The premise is intriguing, relevant, and disturbing, even as the resolution leaves more questions. When is an art attack sabotage, graffiti, or vandalism? How can people reinvent their lives despite fear? DC's new Minx line promises eclectic, real-world stories that honor girls' intelligence and assertiveness, and these two titles deliver. Recommended for teens up.
—M.C.

School Library Journal

Gr 7-10
Young adult author Castellucci makes her graphic-novel debut with this quirky comic. Jane's parents relocate to the suburbs when she's caught in a bomb attack in Metro City. Bored and lonely in her new town and school, the teen is thrilled when she meets three other girls named Jane, all of them as out of place as she is. They form a secret club, the Plain Janes, and decide to liven up the town with art. Some people like their work, but most are frightened, and the local police call the Plain Janes' work "art attacks." Castellucci gives each girl a distinct personality, and spirited, compassionate Main Jane is especially captivating. Rugg's drawings aren't in superhero or manga style, but resemble the more spare, clean style of alternative comics creators such as Dan Clowes and Craig Thompson. A thoughtful look at the pressures to conform and the importance of self-expression, this is also a highly accessible read. Regular comics readers will enjoy it, but fans of soul-searching, realistic young adult fiction should know about it as well.
—Lisa GoldsteinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401211158
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication date: 5/2/2007
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 403,933
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(3)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good

    This was good. And I love the art style in this. This was a suggestion on GR so thanks again for that. And it kind of reminded me, well made me think of another book called Graffiti Moon. Anyway, you have Main Jane moving to a new place, starts a new school and finds friends in other girls also called Jane. That's when Main Jane comes up with an idea and thus P.L.A.I.N. is formed. I haven't heard anything about this but the summary sounded good. And the other titles mentioned at the end of this sound good too and the art style especially. 3 stars is a good rating for this. Doesn't mean I didn't like of course. I did from liking it to really liking it at times. Very good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good book for teens!

    I personally think the author's purpose for writing this book is to let teens know that being popular is not everything in high school. You do not have to be pretty, popular, tall or skinny to have friends. Friends mean they don't care about what you look like, they should care about your personality. They should have your back, help you through hard times, have fun with you and never care about how people think of you. In this book Jane was in a horrible bomb that almost killed her she had to move, then Jane could have been popular, but she decided to make friends with some other people. The popular students got mad that she didn't want to be apart of the popular's. Just because you are not known all that well at school doesn't mean you have to become popular so you can have friends. Your friends are people who, like in the book, help you out with projects. In the book, the Jane's made the secret club called P.L.A.I.N. they made art work and put it around the city. She went back to her hometown city to see someone she saved,she came back because he went back home. He was okay. A few times the girls from P.L.A.I.N. almost got caught, but at the end someone got caught. Then it is all done. They finish with the P.L.A.I.N. actions. They still hang out and are best friends. The Plain Janes is a great book to show not just teens but everyone, that being popular is not everything.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

    Art (and girl power!) take over the world!

    This is a really cute, girl power type graphic novel. The Janes really grow together as they learn to accept each others' different quirks and even use them to the advantage of the group. (Main) Jane, being new and from Metro City, is courted by the popular girls, but her insistence on staying loyal to the rest of the Janes, without Mean Girl-ing the popular chicks, is highlighted a few different times. It's her ability to be nice to everyone, even when she's blowing off the popular crowd, that makes the Big Unifying Art Attack possible.

    Running underneath this light storyline is (Main) Jane's attempt to cope with the attack she lived through in Metro City. After the attack she grew attached to a John Doe who also survived but has been in a coma ever since. His notebook, full of his admiration of everyday art, is what inspires her to start P.L.A.I.N. She writes him letters, which she sends to the hospital, about the art "attacks" and her new friends. Though this relationship is entirely onesided, it gives Jane the outlet that she needs for her feelings regarding the attack and her parents' newfound fear of Metro City.

    The artwork is entirely in black and white, which I found a bit strange at first considering it is a book about public art. The artist uses the black and white drawings to highlight the emotions of (Main) Jane and later of her friends, rather than to highlight the art they create, as color work would do. It lends some levity to the lighter, surface storyline.

    Overall, this is a quick and fun read that has a bit more heft and substance to it than you'd guess at first glance. I highly recommend it.


    Book source: Philly Free Library

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    There is no plain Jane here.

    This was a cool magna. Enjoyed the story line and the protagonists were great. If U enjoy magnas, U will enjoy this one and U can finish it in one day or while chillin' at the park.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    I have never read a graphic title before, but I really enjoyed this one. It was a quick read full of suspense and characters I could relate to. I hope there is a sequel so that we can find out what happens to the Janes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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