Title: The Plain Janes
Author: Cecil Castellucci + Jim Rugg
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
No. of pages: Hardcover, 496
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Date Read: December 6, 2019
Meet the Plain Janes–teenage artist activists on a mission to wake up their sleepy suburban town in this graphic novel bind up, perfect for fans of This One Summer and Awkward.
After getting caught in the midst of a terrorist attack on Metro City, artsy misfit Jane Beckles is forced to leave her beloved bustling metropolis for the boring suburb of Kent Waters. At first Jane thinks her life is over, but then she finds where she belongs: at the reject table in the cafeteria, along with Brain Jayne, Theater Jane, and sporty Polly Jane. United by only two things–a shared name and an all-too-relatable frustration with the adults around them–the girls form a secret club dedicated to waking up their fellow citizens with guerrilla works of art scattered around town.
But for Main Jane, the group is more than just a simple act of teenaged rebellion, it’s an act of survival. She’s determined not to let fear rule her life like it does her parents’ and neighbors’. Armed with her sketchbook and a mission of resistance, she’s out to prove that true passion and a group of good friends can save anyone from the hell that is high school.
Thanks to The Novl and Little, Brown for Young Readers for sending me a copy to review!
Graphic Novels are always fascinating reads for me and this one was no different. The PLAIN Janes is one that hits on takes on several major issues and works through them. I absolutely loved it!
The book follows the story of Jane, the survivor of a terrorist attack, as her family moves to a “safer” suburban town and her starting again in a different school. After the attack, Jane’s demeanor changes. She no longer fits in where she used to and she has a different idea of who she should hang out with, regardless of whether they’re popular or not. The table that she sits at ends up being where she finds her niche and her friends: Brain Jayne, Theater Jane, and Polly Jane. All of them not only have their name in common, but also a love for art. Throughout the book, you see Jane go through PTSD. To help with that, she and her friends decide to create a secret art club that leaves art around town. Her friends think its just something fun to do, but for Jane, the art they’re creating is something to keep her going and not focus on the fear.
The one thing that I loved in this book is that it’s actually 3 books in one. In the ARC that I received, it only had the first two and a look at the third, but it’s a full arc’d story that shows Jane’s story from when her life changed and how she pressed on in living.
I really liked that the stories didn’t shy away from portraying what it looks like for those that survive something as life changing and terrifying as a terrorist attack. Jane battles flashback from PTSD. Her mother is overly cautious and at one point never leaves the house from fear of it happening again. Jane visited and wrote to a man in the hospital that she woke up next to hoping that he was okay. The town that she moved to was hypervigilant over the art that the Janes created and saw it as an attack, probably in mirroring what had happened in the larger city. But, it also dealt with the problems that teenagers deal with everyday with cliques, social status, peer pressure, relationships, arguments between friends, and many others.
PLAIN Janes was one that I absolutely loved reading. It was beautifully illustrated, a great story, and one that is certainly relevant today. I can’t wait to see the final version as it will be in color as well as include the whole of the third story.
The PLAIN Janes releases January 7th, 2020… Today!