Review: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Title: The Plain Janes
Author/Illustrator: Cecil Castellucci/Jim Rugg
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 496

Content Warnings: terrorist attacks (bombing, anthrax poisoning), PTSD, anxiety, paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, hospitals, homophobia, bullying, sexism

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

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.

Includes the original two installments of the cult classic graphic novel The Plain Janes–The Plain Janes and Janes in Love–plus a never-before-seen third story, Janes Attack Back. And it gets even better: In the final book, each part will be printed in its own distinct color, because there’s nothing plain about these Janes.

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The Plain Janes have been around for over ten years but this is the first time the installments are be all together in one binding. This was also my first experience with these characters and the story.

When it comes to the characters, I wasn’t in love with any other than the main Jane. All the others felt incredibly stereotypical and confined to a box. I kept waiting for them to break out and become their own people but it never happened. This was the big thing that kept this graphic novel from being great for me.

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

The story itself was engaging and pulled me in from the beginning. I loved how this group of friends found each other and banded together to fight back. There were also heavy themes revolving around mental illness and it was handled so well.

Even though the first two installments were created over ten years ago they still felt completely relevant. The scenarios that took place still occur. There was only a very brief sneak peek at the new third installment but I’m very interested in the new character being introduced and I can’t wait to read the final copy.

A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked for accuracy against the final copy.

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