Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Ever since I first heard about The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg, I’ve been dying to read this graphic novel—I was drawn to the book’s mysterious cover and title. After a frightening attack on Metro City, Jane’s parents decide to relocate to suburbia, where they feel safer. Rather than join the cool girls’ table at lunchtime, Jane opts to sit with the misfits, who happen to all be “Janes” (Jane, Jayne and Polly Jane). After trying in vain to join several after-school clubs, Main Jane comes up with a great plan: she and the other Janes will start a guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N., People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. This gives Main Jane the opportunity to test the theory that “Art Saves.”

One of my favourite movies of all times is Muriel’s Wedding, which was written and directed by P.J. Hogan, in part because of the standing-up-to-the-mean-girls scene. I loved The Plain Janes for a similar reason: it ups the ante, providing the so-called uncool girls with an opportunity to come into their own while still in high school.

The first time I read the book I thought the imposition of a curfew brought the story into SF territory, which detracted from my enjoyment of it. (I’m not sure why, exactly, since I enjoy SF, but that’s another issue.) It turns out, however, that curfews are not that unusual in the U.S.—apparently many cities have them. Here in Canada, curfews are almost unheard of and generally considered unconstitutional.

There is one somewhat major plot point that is left hanging at the end of the story (which bugged me; I’m still not used to the serial nature of comic books), but I figure it will be resolved in the sequel, Janes in Love. Overall, though, I loved this book. To get a taste of the art (which I also loved), see my Teaser Tuesday for this week.

To read other reviews of this book, head over to these blogs:
Big A little abildungsroman (review of both The Plain Janes and Janes in Love) • Book AddictionBooktopiaChicklishConventioneers!FOB ComicsFuse #8NewsaramaPresenting LenoreThe Written WorldThe Zen Leaf

Read an interview with author Cecil Castellucci:
Girls Read Comics

I read a library copy of this book.


  1. This sounds like a book I would love too, since I love to read about misfits and art.

  2. Where I went to high school (San Antonio-a relatively big Texan city), there was technically a midnight curfew for anyone 18 and under. I didn't know anyone who ever got called out on it though, and I'm pretty sure if the cops did pull you over, they would call your parents, and as long as your parents were ok w/ it, they couldn't ticket you. Kind of ridiculous, right?!

  3. Great review--I loved this book too. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about the sequel--which I haven't read yet.

  4. I enjoyed Plain Janes and plan to read the sequel too. Great review!

  5. This sounds like fun! I haven't read many graphic novels, but perhaps one of these days I'll branch out a bit. I'm sure I would enjoy them.

  6. You've reminded me that I still need to get the sequel for this. Thanks for linking to my review!

  7. Kathy, I think you'd enjoy it!

    Eva, thanks for confirming that curfews do exist!

    Thanks, Brogan. I'm working on my review of the sequel.

    Linda, I recommend the sequel too.

    Dorothy, I've found them to be quite addictive!

    Lenore, you're welcome. As I said to Linda, I recommend the sequel, although I think I preferred this book.

  8. Thanks for linking to Bildungsroman! :)