Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg – The Plain Janes / Janes in Love
39 & 40. The Plain Janes and Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg (2007, 2008)
Length: 176 & 152 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction; Graphic Novel
Started / Finished: 08 April 2012
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I recognized Castellucci’s name from Geektastic while browsing the graphic novel section.
There are some things which
can only be said through art.
Big, stealth public art.
Summary: After Jane is caught in a terrorist explosion, her parents move her away from the city and into the comparably safe life of suburbia. But Jane doesn’t fit in, until she finds three other girls named Jane. Stultified by the suburban lifestyle, Jane comes up with a plan to shake up their small town: P.L.A.I.N., or People Loving Art in Neighborhoods, a guerilla street art campaign. But will it be enough?
In Janes in Love, the Janes have mostly given up art after the New Year’s Eve incident, and have turned their attention to matters more personal. But Jane is finding out that neither art nor love is particularly easy, and that in order to find one, she’ll have to pursue the other.
Review: While I really enjoyed the concept and the message behind these books, I came out the other side feeling like they would have been better had they been a little broader. To cover the good points first: I haven’t read a lot of non-fantasy comics, but I’ve also not come across the “Art Saves!” message in any format particularly often, and it’s an interesting one. I also liked the emotional maturity with which certain aspects of the story were handled, particularly Jane’s evolving (if initially one-sided) relationship with John Doe, and the idea that if a crush doesn’t like you back, it’s not the end of the world, or of your worth as a person.
So, while there was an interesting story and a good message, it all primarily focuses around Jane, and I think that it would have been a deeper and more compelling story if we’d gotten the bigger picture. Art Saves Jane, and maybe Art Saves Jane’s town, but what saves Jayne? Or Polly Jane? The other Janes don’t really have the depth of characterization as Main Jane, and are occasionally treated as little more than comic relief. Developing them more as characters, and focusing more on their relationships, both with each other and with the wider world, would have given the story a roundness that it lacks.
But, even so, these were a quick, cute read, with an interesting take on fear and art and community and fitting in and expressing oneself. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: While I think this would appeal most strongly to aspiring artists, it should be enjoyable for anyone who felt like their high school just didn’t get it.
Other Reviews: Book Addiction, Capricious Reader (1) (2), Presenting Lenore, She Reads and Reads (1) (2), The Written World, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine here and here.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Metro City. Last spring. When it happened, I fell. / I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since it happened.
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