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The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
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The Plain Janes (2007)

by Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg

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8467410,659 (3.85)36
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    The Guerilla Art Kit by Keri Smith (Anonymous user)
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
This was disappointing because I love the premise, but the delivery is so cliche it's almost a parody. The characters are walking stereotypes to the point of hyperbole. Drama Jane is basically the teacher from High School Musical, wearing scarves and long black dresses and quoting The Theatre at all times; Smart Jane wears glasses and a pocket protector and actually says the words "I calculate" and "my calculations". Sporty Jane wears hoodies and ponytails, and then there's Cindy:



You see what I mean. I read a review that called it "a well-intended piece of adolescent lit whose modest charms threaten to be overwhelmed by its status as a Significant Publishing Event: DC Comics' much-touted attempt at snagging the long elusive tween- & teen-girl audience," and I feel like that explains a lot. I definitely plan to read more by Cecil Castellucci, but we're off to a bit of a lackluster start.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Recommended reading for the teen who aspires to more in life than what her peer group tells her she should.

Jane and her parents flee for the suburbs after Jane survives a street bomb attack in Metro City. The event has forever colored her perspective and she no longer identifies with the run-of-the-mill high school atmosphere. She ignores invitations from the popular girls to sit with them and instead discovers her “tribe,” a trio of girls all also named Jane and rejects in their own ways: one is brainy, another is a bench-warming athlete, and the other a heavy-set drama diva. The tribe sets out to make their mark in a world they feel sorely needs it: they create “People Loving Art in Neighborhoods,” or PLAIN. Their mission is to create public art by stealth. The art attacks take the town and school by storm, leading to a curfew and a suspension of school activities. The story culminates in PLAIN’s big New Year’s Eve art project.
( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This book was one that I decided to read because I saw a list of graphic novels created by females. Based on that list when I saw this at my local library I decided to finally give it a go. When I review a book I always look for the positive in it because well that is just who I am. I do not like reviewing a book and saying bad things about it. This being said I won't bash this book even though I did not enjoy it. The reason that I did not enjoy it was probably my own fault. This to me was like every other teen book or movie that I have read in my lifetime. The only difference was that there was an art element added to it that was only slightly interesting. When one is inundated with teen fluff all the time they become immune to the same ole same ole. That is what this graphic novel felt like to me. The artwork is really strong in this and the dialogue is not off. The characters are believable and you can see why the main character moves in the directions and circles that she does. She has strong reasons for them and that part of the story was actually enjoyable. The baseline of why she would not want to be around the cool kids made total sense with where she had been. I commend the writer for the characters and the personalities that she created for each of them because that part was excellent. It was just where the story went and what was encompassed within it that felt bland. I recommend this to people that like stories like "Mean Girls" or any coming of age story. I think those people will enjoy this book and find some reward in it that I couldn't find for myself. I would not mind reading the next book (if there is one) in this graphic novel collection though. The reason is because I think it could progress past this collection into something I enjoy simply based on the individuality of the characters. If utilized correctly in other volumes these characters have greater potential than are showcased here. ( )
  SoulFlower1981 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Cool graphic novel about a girl who leaves a big city after a bombing to live in a small town. Jane doesn’t know anyone and isn’t sure about her identity, but after sitting at a lunch table of other Janes, she starts to find herself. The drawings were a bit inconsistent - sometimes the characters looked pretty different than they had before, and I had to inspect the picture and the frames before it to see who was who. The storyline about the John Doe from the bombing was a little unnecessary as well - it was interesting, but could have been explained or tied up better. The art story, however, was really cool, so overall this is worth a read. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Dec 10, 2015 |
Recommended by PWF and Lauren B

Jane's parents decide to move the family from Metro City to suburbia after a bombing that Jane narrowly escaped. Jane misses the vibrant culture of the city and is determined to insinuate herself into the people she identifies as "her tribe" at her new high school. Though they (Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane) are reluctant at first, the four of them start to carry out stealth public art projects, signing them P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods).

The P.L.A.I.N. projects are admired by some, but feared by others; the police call them "art attacks" and vandalism. Jane is happy to have found friends and a project, but she still writes letters to John Doe, a bombing victim she used to visit in the hospital, and she still wishes her mother weren't so fearful ("Mom doesn't see the beauty in anything anymore. She only sees danger"). When her letters to John Doe are returned to sender, she gets a ride with her crush, Damon, back to Metro City to find out what happened to him.

The Plain Janes was a quick, enjoyable read. It blends everyday teen issues (moving, making friends at a new school, overprotective parents) with larger, traumatic ones (the bombing) and the culture of fear that trauma creates. Jane deals with all of these issues, and art plays a large role in her life as she does so.

Quotes

"It's like I'm asking the world to keep me safe by making them pause for just one minute." (letter to John Doe)

And when you see a kindred spirit, you should invite them to your table.

"Maybe, just maybe, art does save. I think it's saving me." (letter to John Doe)

It's a fact of life. Hearts are always hurting. And yet they still keep pumping.

"Tell me, [John Doe]. If I do something beautiful and no one else sees it, is it still worth doing?" ( )
  JennyArch | May 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
The characterization is stronger than the plotting, and while the theme of learning to process change as a part of growing up is nothing new, the soul’s need for art isn’t emphasized as often. The end of the book doesn’t live up to the power of the beginning, but that’s true of much entertainment these days.
 
A funny, spirited little story about a gang of girls named Jane at a strait-laced high-school, rejected by the mainstream, and their art adventures.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (May 22, 2007)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cecil Castellucciprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rugg, Jimmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To all you Dandelions.
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Metro City. Last Spring. When it happened, I fell.
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When Jane moves to the suburbs, she thinks her life is over, but she meets three friends who form a club P.L.A.I.N.E., but can art really save a group of misfits from high school?

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