Planet Janet

Planet Janet

3.8 9
by Dyan Sheldon

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"The fast-paced, clever writing . . . will keep teens eagerly reading and sharing passages with each other to the end." — BOOKLIST

With a Mad Cow for a mother, an eccentric psychotherapist for a father, and a dweeble for an older brother, it's no wonder sixteen-year-old Janet Bandry is ready to enter the Dark Phase of her life. As this

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"The fast-paced, clever writing . . . will keep teens eagerly reading and sharing passages with each other to the end." — BOOKLIST

With a Mad Cow for a mother, an eccentric psychotherapist for a father, and a dweeble for an older brother, it's no wonder sixteen-year-old Janet Bandry is ready to enter the Dark Phase of her life. As this determined British teenager sees it, the DP requires dressing in black, listening to jazz when she can find the right radio station, and thinking about Deep and Meaningful Things — when she isn't thinking about boys, what color to dye her hair, or whether her nose piercing is infected. Told in diary entries with a comical dose of melodrama, PLANET JANET shares the painfully funny travails of a winning new heroine who just knows she is destined for greatness.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this often funny but ultimately disappointing novel, 16-year-old Janet journals about life in the "Dark Phase," in which she and her best friend, Disha, attempt to "be in touch with the real stuff. The deep pain and joy." In her quest, Janet tries yoga from a book and gets her nose pierced, but she is oblivious to the issues going on around her. The boy for whom she became a vegetarian is obviously not interested in her; the girl hanging outside her house is actually stalking her brother; and her father's having an affair with a neighbor, causing her mother a considerable amount of stress. Janet's cluelessness can be comical, such as when she and Disha fail to make the connection between the candles they are using for a spell and the smoke alarm going off in the house, or when she is outraged by her father's suggestion that she vacuum ("If he thinks I'm going to be his skivvy, he can think again"). Sheldon includes interesting details about many of the characters in the book (Janet's grandmother was a spy and her lesbian aunt is having a baby, for example). But unlike the cast of her Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, the people here mostly fail to come alive. Janet's antics are entertaining, but she herself is not particularly likable and the narrative seems derivative, rather than energized with the fresh repartee of Sheldon's previous novels. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature
Sixteen-year-old Janet Foley Bandry lives with her mother (the Mad Cow), her father (Sigmund, the psychotherapist), and her older brother (Justin, the dweeble). Wishing to isolate herself from her annoying family, Janet looks inward and enters what she dubs the Dark Phase. Along with her best friend, Disha, Janet begins to wear black clothing, listen to jazz, read and write thoughtful works of literature, and generally attempt to reach a higher plane of existence. In the process, she meets and falls for Elvin, a teenage documentary filmmaker who she sees as dark, mature, and altogether desirable. In order to win his affection, Janet experiments with vegetarianism and learns to ride a bicycle. Unfortunately, his only interest in her is the hope of developing a working relationship with her brother, a fellow film guy. Told in the form of a collection of journal entries written by Janet, readers are able to witness her self-centeredness and lack of awareness of truth and reality. Despite several clues of her mother's unhappiness, she has no idea that her father is having an affair, and although a young man named David is obviously smitten with her, Janet is too consumed by her own search-for-self to notice. It is only when she recognizes the needs of others that she begins to mature. Although not as compelling or well-written as Sheldon's earlier novel, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, the novel will likely be a hit with reluctant readers who are seeking a spunky protagonist whose insights into life are often humorous and wry. 2002, Candlewick Press,
— Wendy Glenn
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-This bitingly witty novel reads like a cross between Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (Viking, 1998) and Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13-3/4 (Avon, 1984). It's tough to feel properly appreciated for your questing and artistic soul when you're surrounded by shallow, lifeless, and "v. boring" parents. And so, Janet Foley Bandry, age 16, decides to embark on the "Dark Phase" of her life by exploring her creative nature, nurturing her passionate soul, and wearing only black and purple. She goes through typical teen self-absorption, which is relieved only by hour-long conversations with her best friend and soul mate, Disha, and they dissect every nuance of everything they've endured, usually incorrectly. But somehow over the course of five months, during which time Janet suffers many indignities and humiliations and her parents separate, it looks like the drama queen of "Planet Janet" is actually starting to become a little bit more compassionate and grown up. Meg Cabot's fans will enjoy this lightweight foray into British teen melodrama.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An utterly self-absorbed British teen scrivens her frustrations with the rest of the world in her slang-filled diary, all the while blissfully ignorant of the real chaos around her. Sound familiar? Janet Bandry is distinguished from Georgia Nicolson by her pretensions toward intellectualism: she and her best friend have decided to celebrate the new year by entering what they call the Dark Phase. What the Dark Phase means to Janet is wearing black, dying her hair purple, listening to jazz, and attempting to read The Outsider ("it was about three thousand pages shorter than Ulysses"). Janet's family includes her mother, the Mad Cow; her psychiatrist father, Sigmund; her photographer brother, Geek Boy; her lesbian feminist aunt, Sappho; and her Bible-thumping ex-spy Nan, all of whom represent tedious obstacles to Janet's pursuit of passion, in the person of the dashing vegetarian Elvin. In Sheldon's (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, 1999, etc.) hands, Janet's general numbness results in some truly hilarious passages, but it also can be painful to witness. What the reader knows long before Janet is that her parents' marriage is on the rocks: "Came home to find the female parent IN MY ROOM! She was lying on my bed! I was highly indignant, I can tell you. Not only was this a MAJOR breach of my privacy, but her eyes were all red and she was sniffling like she was coming down with something. She'd better not be infecting me with her germs." The constant irony between Janet's unbelievably obtuse reportage and the actual events readers discern below the surface sounds a one-note chorus that wears thin. Janet worries to her diary "about becoming as shallow and pointless as the rest of [her]family." While this offering provides undeniable chuckles (aided by discriminating use of typefaces for emphasis), one is left wondering whether it is itself rather shallow and pointless. But it will certainly find an audience. (Fiction. 12+)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.72(w) x 7.77(h) x 0.55(d)
980L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Talk about self-centered! Me! Me! Me! Me! ME! That's all anybody in this house cares about. I was trying to have a normal conversation over supper (the way people do in films, etc.), not some Great Intellectual Discussion (I know my family's limits, believe me), when I realized that no one was listening to me. I stopped dead right in the middle of explaining about what happened at lunch (which was v dramatic and emotionally stressful), and no one so much as glanced my way. Sigmund (my male parent) was messing around with his electronic organizer, as per usual, and the Mad Cow (my female parent) was staring at him with her eyes squinted like she was trying to work out whether or not he was going to blow us all up. Also as per usual, my parents' OTHER child was reading some book like the rude, antisocial boil that he is. (Tomato sauce was dripping down his chin in a particularly revolting way. You'd think at his age he'd at least be housetrained.)

Anyway, I just sat there watching them for a few seconds. They were chomping away like lions round a dead zebra, oblivious to anyone but themselves (for a change, right?!!). And it suddenly hit me not just how Spiritually Alone I am, but how easy it would be for me just to GIVE UP and become like them: shallow . . . superficial . . . more boring than asphalt. I recovered from this DEVASTATING realization and asked them very sweetly if they were aware of the fact that I was trying to have a conversation. I'd've got more of a personal response if I'd farted. Still staring at Sigmund, the Mad Cow asked him did this mean he was going out again tonight and, still staring at his organizer, Sigmund said he was just checking his schedule, and was that a crime now or something? I could tell that they were about to start another fight, which is pretty much the only thing they do together lately. If you ask me, it's just as well Sigmund's hardly ever home, or the flat would be like war-torn Beirut or one of those places. So, for the sake of Peace, I cleared my throat and tried again. "Hello? Hello?" I shouted. "Is anybody there?" Which was when Justin suddenly looked up and made his one joke about Planet Janet trying to communicate with Earth. That, of course, caught the parents' attention. The three of them laughed like a pack of demented hyenas. . . .

So that's why I decided it's definitely time to start the Dark Phase. Disha (My v Best Friend in the Universe and Forever) and I have been talking about it since September. I REALLY don't want to end up having a trivial life like everyone else, especially everyone I'm related to. I want to LIVE, not just exist. I mean, life isn't about what's on telly or who left the toilet seat up, is it? It's full of ANGST (meaning suffering and deep emotions) and PASSION. I want to be in touch with the REAL stuff. The DEEP pain and joy. The TRUE Essence and Substance. I have a Questing, Artistic Soul, and if I don't get away from all this mundane crap, it will wither and die like a flower in the desert. . . .


. . . Went round to Disha's after school to discuss the Dark Phase. Disha agrees that since we both turn seventeen next year (D's Libra and I'm Scorpio), it's an excruciatingly important time for us and if we're ever going to REALLY LIVE and not just go through the motions like our parents, we'd better start preparing for it now. Also we're both very Creative and Artistic, and it's the Great Artists and Writers who have always known how to suffer. If they're not killing themselves or hacking off body parts, then they're full of DOOM AND GLOOM and muttering about how awful everything is (Disha says she reckons Shakespeare was always in a Dark Phase). We owe it to ourselves to explore the Deep End of the Pool of Life. D and I decided the Dark Phase will begin on the Stroke of Midnight on New Year's Eve. We're going to be intense, serious, intellectually and spiritually curious and adventurous, and spend a lot of time nurturing our Souls. To do this we're going to read poetry and great literature, really get into art and serious films, and wear mainly black clothes and makeup so everyone will know how deeply we experience things, etc. I'm v glad I changed my mind about chucking this diary. The Dark Phase and all its revelations, understandings, and epiphanies MUST be recorded!!!

The Mad Cow and Sigmund were arguing again at supper. (If things go on like this much longer, I'm going to demand combat pay.) The MC was all wound up because when Sigmund said he'd take her Christmas shopping tonight she didn't think he was going to bring along half of the single parents group he runs as well (this, of course, was a GROSS exaggeration on the MC's part; it was only Mrs. Kennedy). Anyway, when they broke for air, I took the opportunity to make my announcement re the Dark Phase. It really is the season of miracles, because for once (to my utter amazement) they were all listening. Sigmund said, "Does this mean you're leaving Earth's orbit for good?" The Mad Cow said I could forget getting any money from HER for a new wardrobe (as if!), and Justin, keeping to his policy of being as difficult and bloody-minded as possible, said that it wasn't the Great Artists and Writers who understood suffering; it was the poor sods nobody'd ever heard of. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? My brother the philistine Neanderthal. Justin said that if I wanted to get in touch with the deepest levels of human angst I should try living on the streets! I didn't even stay for pudding after that. I went straight to my room. Obviously I'm starting the Dark Phase not a moment too soon!!!

PLANET JANET by Dyan Sheldon. Copyright (c) 2003 by Dyan Sheldon. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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Planet Janet 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutley hilarious. I got it as soon as it came out. Enjoy!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first got this book,I thought it would be overhyped stereotyping and some teenybopper book that I might sell later on to make some extra cash. But once I read it,I realized that Janet is sorta like me. Only that I don't go into deep effects and telling people I'm in my dark phase. I just am. Been that way for a while,not that anyone really noticed. Anyway,Janet's parental problems are not unlike my own,especially her constant fighting with her mom,not much unlike my own. I thought this book was really good and more people should read it. It's a good turn from the little books all about people fighting with the popular clique or about being a reporter/spy at age 12.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally think the book was wonderful and described a teen life to the point.It was wonderful and clearly written.If anyone doesn't enjoy this book they must be out of their minds!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fun to read the first time and is even better the second. If you're looking for a laugh and some new vocab. from London, then I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i was disappointed with this book... it seems like theyre trying to be somewhat like 'Bridget Jones' Diary' with the lingo and all that. the teen lifestyle is out-of-porportionally fake, i think.i couldnt get past the 5th page... it just doesnt grab you in or anything. i would only suggest this to you if you were really really really bored and had read every other good book out there. i found it boring and sarcastically and sterotypically exadurated. oh, and according to this book, i've been in my 'dark phase' my entire life. :-d
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was my all-time favorite book of all. Its funny suspencful, creative, and from experience. I think everyone should read this book one time in there life or another. But I was just wondering many, many parents want to just want the get it for there children - but they want it in paperback because it costs less then hardcover. Does anyone no if its going to come out soon. Thank You. -
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember looking on this site for a book and I found this one. It is pretty cool. Anyone that is bored and needs a laugh needs to read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis book was very funny and will always keep you wondering what will happen next. It is a very good book. you will very much enjoy it. Dyan Sheldon is a great author.