Reviews for Plain Janes

Booklist Reviews 2007 March #2
/*Starred Review*/ For the first book in a new series aimed at teenage girls, DC comics recruited novelist Castellucci (Boy Proof, 2004, and The Queen of Cool, 2005) to write this story about outsiders who come together, calling up themes from the author's popular YA novels. Relocated to suburbia after a brush with disaster in the big city (and fueled by an urge not to be terrified of the world as a result), Jane rallies a small group of outcasts into a team of "art terrorists," shaking the town from its conservative complacency by putting bubbles in the city fountain and wrapping objects on the street as Christmas packages. Their activities end up rallying the local teenagers to their cause and working the adults into a dither. The book has its share of stereotypes--the science geek, the psychotically overprotective mother, the irrepressible gay teen--but this is thought-provoking stuff. The art, inspired by Dan Clowes' work, is absolutely engaging. Packaged like manga this is a fresh, exciting use of the graphic-novel format. ((Reviewed March 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
In [cf2]Boy Proof[cf1], Jane was injured in a terrorist attack. Now her family's moved to suburbia, where Jane forms P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) and plans "art attacks" while continuing correspondence with a comatose man. The graphic novel's core is Jane's struggle to see the world's beauty. Rugg's warm gray-scale scenes convey the drama, impact, and joy of unfettered expression. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
In [cf2]Boy Proof[cf1], Jane was injured in a terrorist attack. Now her family's moved to suburbia, where Jane forms P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) and plans "art attacks" while continuing correspondence with a comatose man. The graphic novel's core is Jane's struggle to see the world's beauty. Rugg's warm gray-scale scenes convey the drama, impact, and joy of unfettered expression. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #4
In Castellucci's (Boy Proof, rev. 5/05) first graphic novel, Jane's life is turned upside-down when she's injured in an explosion outside a Metro City cafŽ -- an implied terrorist attack. Her parents waste no time in moving to suburbia, where arty Jane finds her "tribe" in a quiet group of rejects: Jane (a theater nut), Jayne (a science nerd), and Polly Jane (a wannabe jock). Searching for a way to draw them out, Jane forms P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) and engages their help in planning "art attacks." The group's whimsical efforts range from adding bubble solution to the town fountain to organizing the entire school to simultaneously break into song -- and meet with proscription and persecution from the authorities. The core of this timely novel, though, is Jane's struggle to see the beauty of the world rather than its dangers. Pulling everything together is Jane's poignant correspondence with the comatose John Doe, a young man she rescued in the aftermath of the bomb and whose sketchbook (bearing the mantra "Art Saves") she borrowed for inspiration. The layered dialogue and emotion-laden visual close-ups suggest character depth, and the clean-lined graphic format is uniquely suited to the art attacks, Rugg's warm gray-scale scenes conveying not just detail and scope but the drama, impact, and joy of unfettered expression. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews 2007 July #1

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 Janes tells 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.

[Page 64]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Library Media Connection - October 2007
Move over, guys! DC Comics' new Minx line has been created especially for teen girls and kicks off with The Plain Janes. "Main" Jane's family moves from Metro City to suburbia when Jane is nearly killed by a bomb attack. Jane's experience leads her to reinvent herself, trading her sleek blonde hair, fashionable clothes, and popular friends for a spiky black 'do, newer, darker style, and lunch with a table of misfit girls who are all named Jane. When Main Jane happens upon a construction site for another strip mall, she is saddened by the loss of nature and beauty, and enlists the other Janes to send a message by staging "art attacks" at the construction site. Art and the Janes triumph over all. Subplots about Jane's "correspondence" with a young man in a coma from the bomb attack and her crush on the moody, misunderstood boy at school will capture girls' attention as well. Rugg's b&w, somewhat angular, panel art captures both teen angst and artists' activism. This book represents an excellent blend of YA fiction and graphic novel, and is destined to be very popular with junior high and high school students. Recommended. Michelle Glatt, Librarian, Chiddix Junior High School, Normal, Illinois © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #2

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 caf 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)

[Page 56]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 September

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 Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

[Page 222]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.