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
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 schoolreminiscent of her Metro City friendsand 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 PLAINPeople Loving Art in Neighborhoodsand 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 triumphhighly recommended for all school and public libraries.
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.
School Library Journal
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.