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The Plain Janes

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Plain Janes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    3.5 stars. This graphic novel makes the following claim, supported by multiple events, throughout its story: that art saves. That without it, we can easily drown underwater and lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us even in bleak times. Jane Beckles is the new girl in school. She suffers from PTSD after being at the wrong place at the wrong time and is now doing her best to put the past behind. But it is haunting her. One way she found to cope, somehow, was to create an art collective called 3.5 stars. This graphic novel makes the following claim, supported by multiple events, throughout its story: that art saves. That without it, we can easily drown underwater and lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us even in bleak times. Jane Beckles is the new girl in school. She suffers from PTSD after being at the wrong place at the wrong time and is now doing her best to put the past behind. But it is haunting her. One way she found to cope, somehow, was to create an art collective called P.L.A.I.N. with other girls—all named Jane or Jayne—from her new school. Together, these girls dare to create art in their neighbourhood. They dare to express themselves and even challenge the authorities. They gain allies—and enemies—along the way but no one can take this away from Jane Beckles. Meanwhile developing art projects, their lives continue and each Jane works toward her own future. While Jane Beckles is the main character and we don’t get to know the other Janes as well as we know her, since we’re in her head all the time, I still enjoyed seeing the Janes grow up and explore their own respective passions other than art. And even find love. I did not understand Jane Beckles’ relationship with her love interest, and I still don’t know much about him presently or trust him to be courageous enough to commit to her, really. But he is there for her, that I cannot deny. At times, this graphic novel is childish, like when one of the Janes creates a substance which has an unrealistic effect, but other times it’s very mature, realistic and inspiring. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  2. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    An artist must be a reactionary. Evelyn Waugh & so to tenderness I add my action. Aracelis Girmay Art is a form of communication with the world, an expression of ideas, a reaction to the world around you. The PLAIN Janes b Cecil Castelucci and illustrated by Jim Rugg is a fantastic discussion on the importance of art in our lives and of the conversations that occur around it. It is also very dear to me on a number of levels. Just a quick flip through this book told me I needed to read it: street An artist must be a reactionary. Evelyn Waugh & so to tenderness I add my action. Aracelis Girmay Art is a form of communication with the world, an expression of ideas, a reaction to the world around you. The PLAIN Janes b Cecil Castelucci and illustrated by Jim Rugg is a fantastic discussion on the importance of art in our lives and of the conversations that occur around it. It is also very dear to me on a number of levels. Just a quick flip through this book told me I needed to read it: street art, police opposition and censorship, female empowerment, trying to make something beautiful in a frightening world...everything I wanted to read. Particularly the discussions around the tone policing of art in a public sphere the impetuses of creating public art, especially since my own artistic endeavors came under scrutiny of the local authorities….but more on that in a bit. This edition collects the complete three volumes, the first two published in 2007 and 2008 and then the third finally arriving in 2020. While the second volume--Janes in Love--wraps up the story to some extent, the third volume really brings the message of their art to question amidst the natural breakdown of teenage friend circles and feels like a more fulfilling conclusion to the whole story instead of tacked on. The story follows Jane--Main Jane--as she forms an art coalition of friends (all named Jane) in an effort to bring art to their town through pop-up installation work over the course of their high school years. Their attempts are met with both support and backlash--particularly from the local police--and the three volumes chronicle the ways their art and friendships change with the times and how they overcome the obstacles that befall them. From under-cover-of-night street artists to a City-sanctioned art coalition with a grant to fund their work, PLAIN Janes takes a hard look at how the message of art is altered by the conditions in which it is made as well as how the creative spirit can thrive in the face of adversity. A really beautiful portrait of friendship and perseverance, The PLAIN Janes is as moving as it is inspirational and thought provoking through its messages about artistic expression, individuality, finding your own way in the world and--most importantly--standing up for what you believe in an attempt to recraft the world in a better way. The story begins with Main Jane living in Metro City and surviving a bombing at a local cafe. Her parents flee the city to a quiet community out of fear and Jane finds herself displaced. Despite being openly welcomed by the popular crowd, Jane shrugs them off hoping to find a new start without any pretenses and forces her way into the “uncool” table at lunch--three girls all named Jane who are social outcasts. We meet Theater Jane, Brian Jane and Sporty Jane, who, along with James (the solitary member of the school’s Gay Club), are brought into a close friendship by Main Jane’s enthusiasm for public art. While initially caricatures for their individual social standings and a bit flat--Theater Jane constantly quotes famous authors and is dramatic, Brain Jane quips about the mathematical beauty in music, Sporty Jane….well she just wants to get off the bench and actually play--Castellucci slowly grows each character into multi-dimensional personalities that make up a fairly authentic teenage social group (and who isn’t sort of a caricature of themselvesx at that age anyways with all the posturing and effort to be an individual?). The books mature along with the characters, as well, being more nuanced with their personalities (initially they all seemed a bit too cookie-cutter these-are-the-attractive-people but volume two briefly explores body image issues in a pretty productive and empowering way) as well as the themes as it goes along. Through the three books we see them come close together as friends, support each other, find romantic relationships and then, inevitably, begin to go their own ways as they blossom into themselves as Seniors who are planning ahead to their next phase in life. Main Jane has PTSD from her brush with death and the news is filled with existential threats of violence from bombings to anthrax and school shootings (this is set closly after 9/11 but does not stoop to presenting a fear of foreigners though in the whole conversation about the treatment towards “outsiders” it would have been nice to see a conversation about race occur. There are a variety of races depicted in the book but the book stays fairly white and never discusses race). Amidst the attack she finds a notebook with “ART SAVES” written on the cover next to an unconscious young man, whom she visits in the hospital while he is in a coma and continues to write to him. John Doe eventually wakes up and goes back to his home in Poland, but their correspondence continues throughout all three volumes and serves a narrational purpose exposing her inner thoughts. The words on the notebook have inspired her and she uses it to plot out public artworks that she and her friends leave about the city under the name of P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, the you win. -Ganhdi The project is loved by peers, who don’t know who is doing it, but the local police do not like it. Cue the narrative about under cover art attacks, police enforcement, conversations about if street art is vandalism or not, etc. One thing that this book does very well is present a wide variety of really cute and cool street art ideas from installation pieces to yarn bombing (yes, yarn boming is a real form of graffitti). Unfortunately, aside from referencing the Dadaists, there is little to no mention of actual street artists which could have been a great jumping off point for readers to learn more about street art and the artists that inspired this book. Central to PLAIN is Jane’s desire to present the world in a beautiful way, as a reaction to the terror and violence in the world. The random “art attacks” are a direct contrast to the bombing she experienced. When met with resistance, Jane perseveres not only for her friends and for her art, but because the resistance in a way is to her belief in beauty that keeps her going. We witness her mother so afraid of the world that she refuses to leave the house, and Jane just wants to remind people of the good in the world and in coming together (such as a city-wide dance party they organize inspired by the Case of the Meowing Nuns as a reaction to curfews). PLAIN Janes is adorable and heartfelt when dealing with interpersonal relationships (this is a really positive book for teens) but is best when it comes to conversations on art, which is the predominant theme in the series. I personally empathized with their plight and really enjoyed the arguments in favor of public installations as art instead of vandalism. For the past four years I’ve had my own public art project consisting of leaving poems behind on trees wherever I go. As with Main Jane, my art idea accrued in reaction to the world and emotional state around me. At the time it began I was a delivery driver going around the midwest, staying overnight out of town, spending long days on the road. It was a lonely existence for awhile. I read a lot of poetry on breaks in my delivery van and would leave ones that touched me on trees as a sort of beacon to people who might also need them. An “I was here” so to speak. I wanted people to stumble upon poetry in nature and maybe think about poetry for just a moment of their day. I created an instagram account (follow me or take a look at @poe_a_tree on instagram) and wrote my anonymous handle on the poems so people could tag them and I could see if people found them. Turns out a lot of people did. With the help of a very good friend who also joined in for awhile, we came up with the idea to add art to them to catch people’s attention. I began practicing with oil pastels and started creating large works of art for each snippet of poetry and began going out at night and leaving them throughout the local campus and downtown--my own “art attacks” like the Janes. I’ve met so many wonderful people this way, including my partner, and it was amazing to overhear people talk about it or tell me about it because I was completely anonymous. After 3 years, the city declared it vandalism and sent a cease and desist order to my account with the threat of arrest and fine. Like the Janes, I was caught and punishment awaited. But, as the Janes learn, art can inspire a community. I had posted the letter onto my accounts and was flooded with messages encouraging me. Within a few hours the local paper contacted me and businesses’ started to contact me asking for a PoeATree post for their store. You can read about it here from the local paper, or, read and watch the regional news story about it. I’ve kept at it, having been given permission to continue on the local campus and in several stores. They even ran a follow-up article. So reading The PLAIN Janes came at a good time for me, especially the third part. In Volume 3, the Janes have their own city sanctioned art space but are beginning to feel like it is state. Jane goes to France to study art with the girlfriend of her penpal and while she is gone everyone goes their own way. Enter a nemesis. A new girl in school arrives fronting a punk band and bold ideas for public art, mocking the Jane’s “corporate” art project and their insistence on staying within legal boundaries. Jane wants art to comfort, Pain (okay, the names in this book aren’t exactly stretching creativity) wants art to shock. It’s a perfect final act with the two debating while also learning from each other that leads to an incredibly moving conclusion when Jane realizes taking a stand can be a form of artistic expression. Written 11 years after the second volume, the third act builds on the fears in the world from the previous two while also adding a message about the necessity of resistance. This brings to mind Czesław Miłosz’s book The Captive Mind about how authoritarianism squashes the creative mind either by eliminating it or forcing it to create Party propaganda. Pain directly confronts the police art bans and while the message of direct action is built up throughout the first two volumes, it speaks loudest and most eloquently in the final act. ‘All art is political’ Jane yells at the police officer near the end. I am inclined to agree. ‘All good art is political!’ says the immortal Toni Morrison, ‘There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.’’ To not be political is, in effect, a political statement. Morrison adds that ‘We’ve just dirtied the word ‘politics,’ made it sound like it’s unpatriotic or something,’ as any statement of expression made into the world has some form of belief behind it. Even wanting to show beauty in the face of fear, Jane discovers, is a statement and direct action is the best way to make that statement heard. This book is sheer enjoyment and fun but also deals with some deep themes along the way. The artwork is engaging, the voices are fun and nuanced, and the message is pure gold. I loved The PLAIN Janes and it really inspired me to think about my own artwork. Since reading this book I’ve experimented around a lot and I am really excited about some new projects I have brewing (I’ve already built a homemade projector and am projecting poems onto the sides of buildings for short periods). While it may occasionally dip into cliche and takes a bit for the characters to come to life the flaws are hardly any deterrent to the fun. Let PLAIN Janes inspire you as much as it did me. ⅘

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I received an ARC of this book for free from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review. Please note that since this is an ARC, it only includes the first 2 installments and a sneak peek at the third installment. Therefore, my review is based only on these parts. I really liked this graphic novel and the story it told. The book deals with many relevant topics such as terrorism and PTSD. I was happy that the book didnt shy away with showing the mental effects that terrorism has on people. Janes I received an ARC of this book for free from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review. Please note that since this is an ARC, it only includes the first 2 installments and a sneak peek at the third installment. Therefore, my review is based only on these parts. I really liked this graphic novel and the story it told. The book deals with many relevant topics such as terrorism and PTSD. I was happy that the book didn’t shy away with showing the mental effects that terrorism has on people. Jane’s mother is the perfect example of that. I liked how the girls came together to make a statement using art. Art is such an important tool in enacting societal change. I loved the artwork and stylization of the text. Both the illustrations and the text were clear and easy to follow. If you find graphic novels to be a bit distracting, you might want to try this one. I’m really glad that all the installments were put together in this book because they all come together nicely. For example, the first installment, “The PLAIN Janes,” sort of just ends abruptly. But the second installment, “Janes in Love,” really builds upon the first. I only got a sneak peek at the third one, “Janes Attack Back,” but from what I read, I think it will be a satisfying conclusion. Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel and am looking forward to seeing how it all ends.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This was so unexpectedly good and it warmed my heart in a way that a book hasn't in a long time. THE PLAIN JANES is one of those books that manages to be hip and empowering without feeling like it's being too heavy-handed, which is a rarity in this day and age. Jane Beckles is a cool, artsy girl suffering from PTSD from a bombing. She feels the world is going crazy, spinning out of control to dark forces, and it's made her jaded. She and Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This was so unexpectedly good and it warmed my heart in a way that a book hasn't in a long time. THE PLAIN JANES is one of those books that manages to be hip and empowering without feeling like it's being too heavy-handed, which is a rarity in this day and age. Jane Beckles is a cool, artsy girl suffering from PTSD from a bombing. She feels the world is going crazy, spinning out of control to dark forces, and it's made her jaded. She and her family moved from the city to the suburbs, and Jane ends up finding her people at a table of misfits all named Jane. There's Jock Jane, Theater Jane, and Science Jane. Art Jane is the missing piece, the one who ends up tying them all together and causing them to be friends, when she gets the idea to stir up their community by creating Banksy-like installation people to get people thinking a little more about the world and their values. Unfortunately, the authorities only see vandalism instead of art, and the Janes' attempts receive punishments to deter them. But you can't keep a Jane down, and as the P.L.A.I.N. movement gains a foothold in the community, other people in town start waking up to the world around them and feeling a little more free to confront their own demons and embrace who they are. So yes, obviously I loved this book. I love art, I love installation art, I love the avant garde, and I love girl power. There were so many great messages in here about feminism, activism, diversity, inclusivity, and also being yourself when everyone is trying to squeeze you into a mold. Also, none of the villains were too two-dimensional. Several of them were complex and you could at least understand their motivations, which I really appreciated in a graphic-novel targeted towards teens. This was a delight and I think it will be a hit with forward-thinking teens! Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!   4 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I was so bored, the characters are incredibly one-dimensional, and the main character is fairly unbearable most of the time. Pass. Thank you so much to the Amazon Vine reviewer program for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy // The Bookish Unicorn

    Actual Rating 3.5 Stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Cecil is an auto-buy around these parts so to receive an early copy of the recently updated Plain Janes was such a treat! I was so engrossed I couldnt put it down on a plane ride. After tragedy strikes, Jane moves to a new community and turns to art as a way to bring herself back to stability and process her feelings. To do this, she recruits a few other Janes and they start a rebellion. What I love most is the sensitive way that Cecil manages the emotions that Jane goes through as she is faced Cecil is an auto-buy around these parts so to receive an early copy of the recently updated Plain Janes was such a treat! I was so engrossed I couldn’t put it down on a plane ride. After tragedy strikes, Jane moves to a new community and turns to art as a way to bring herself back to stability and process her feelings. To do this, she recruits a few other Janes and they start a rebellion. What I love most is the sensitive way that Cecil manages the emotions that Jane goes through as she is faced with situations that trigger her. I also like how the story shows natural transition high school friend groups go through. Overall this is a kick-ass story about art, friendship, healing, and community. Highly recommend!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    Arc provided by HBG Canada. Definitely not for me. This one read as a sad moppy story about misfits who changes the school with art.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ramie

    I got this through Vine to review. Before that I had not heard of the series. The review copy is black and white and only has the two previously published stories, not the third new one. That said, I loved this enough Ill be reading the actual release copy to finish the third story. Jane was the survivor of a terrorist attack. She saved a young mans life. Shes been visiting him regularly at the hospital as hes in a coma as a John Doe. Then her parents decide the best course of action is to leave I got this through Vine to review. Before that I had not heard of the series. The review copy is black and white and only has the two previously published stories, not the third new one. That said, I loved this enough I’ll be reading the actual release copy to finish the third story. Jane was the survivor of a terrorist attack. She saved a young man’s life. She’s been visiting him regularly at the hospital as he’s in a coma as a John Doe. Then her parents decide the best course of action is to leave the city. Thrust into a new school while dealing with the complex emotions of having survived such a thing leaves Jane pretty difficult to know. And yet a group of girls, The Janes, become her BFFs. Using John Doe’s sketchbook for inspiration the girls set out to art bomb their sleepy town. The police feel that their art is essentially a form of terrorism. As the members of their PLAIN collective get caught, Jane’s devotion to the idea of spreading art starts to waiver. Until John Doe goes home and a letter from him inspires Jane to try to legitimize their work via art grants. This is a sweet story of survival, friendship, and using art to heal yourself and maybe the world around you as well.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

    Amazing!! This story made me want to go out and yarn-bomb something...even though I neither knit or crochet (tried to learn both, but everything unraveled into a mess and I literally ended up tangled up in yarn). Anyway... Great story and very inspiring how the Janes motivated an entire town to love art, from the Quiet Kid to the resident Queen Bee. Well...almost everyone. Officer Sanchez... WTF was that Piggy's problem with art and kids being creative? And why did he go out of his way to be so Amazing!! This story made me want to go out and yarn-bomb something...even though I neither knit or crochet (tried to learn both, but everything unraveled into a mess and I literally ended up tangled up in yarn). Anyway... Great story and very inspiring how the Janes motivated an entire town to love art, from the Quiet Kid to the resident Queen Bee. Well...almost everyone. Officer Sanchez... WTF was that Piggy's problem with art and kids being creative? And why did he go out of his way to be so freaking malicious nazi? The motivation behind his complete and total hater-ness was never really explained. And a villain without a reason to be a villain isn't much of a villain. Just a flat character. He's worse than Cruella DeVille, because at least she had a reason, as awful as that reason was (although he probably hates puppies too). This was a major plot hole and deserved more attention. Like a reason. Maybe a resolution. Maybe a chance for the character to redeem himself...even if he agrees to disagree. But nada. For me, this was reason enough to drop this from a 5-star book to a 4-star book. Seriously, though...I hope he chokes on his next donut. All that aside, this was a fantastic book. So empowering! So inspirational! I loved the friendships and how the girls got the whole town involved. I loved pretty much everything. I really hope there's more Plain Janes books on the way, because I'd read it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steven R. McEvoy

    I have been waiting years for the third Janes story. It is now coming out in an incredible 3 in 1 volume. A great conclusion to the series. Full review below. . . . This is a book nearly a decade in the making. Cecil and Jim collaborated on the first two Janes stores in 2007 and 2008. And had a third planned. And it never happened. I interviewed Cecil in 2010 and the working title of a third story at that point was Janes Go Summer. In this finally released three in one edition the title of the third I have been waiting years for the third Janes story. It is now coming out in an incredible 3 in 1 volume. A great conclusion to the series. Full review below. . . . This is a book nearly a decade in the making. Cecil and Jim collaborated on the first two Janes stores in 2007 and 2008. And had a third planned. And it never happened. I interviewed Cecil in 2010 and the working title of a third story at that point was Janes Go Summer. In this finally released three in one edition the title of the third instalment is Janes Attack Back. So the sections in this volume are: The PLAIN Janes Janes in Love Janes Attack Back. The first two were previously release as single volumes and were done with color coves and the artwork was black and white and grey-scale. In this edition each of the three stories are in a different monochromatic scale. Part 1 is blue, part 2 is fuchsia and part three is green. And this new edition is being simultaneously release in hard cover, paperback and digitally. I went back and check my reading log and I have read both of the first two volumes 10 times. I reread them nearly once a year since I discovered them. And now I will likely be reading this new edition annually. When this book arrived I read it immediately. And it did not disappoint. And I have already started reading it a second time with my oldest daughter who is 13. I can’t wait to find out what she thinks of the Janes. The Janes are: Jane - DramaticJane Jayne - BrainJayne Polly Jane - SportyJane Jane - MainJane Part I: The PLAIN Janes The story is set shortly after 9/11 and features a girl, Jane, who was near one of the blasts. Her whole life is turned upside down. He parents move her to a small town. Her mother is not getting better from the shock of 9/11; she is getting more frightened, and protective and a little paranoid. Jane was popular and in the 'in crowd' at her old school in the city. Here she decided to make conscious changes; she joins the outcast, a group of Plain Janes. And they use Art as therapy and as a way of understanding themselves and the world around them. Part II: Janes in Love MainJane is still dealing with the aftermath of being near ground zero of a terrorist attack. She is getting better but her mother is getting worse. All of Janes' art is an attempt to bring her mother back out of her shell. The Janes get in trouble for their public art. But decide to try and work with the system. This one does go into greater depth about relationships and overcoming adversity. Part III Janes Attack Back This story starts with the girls doing art installations in the park. They want to expand to more public spaces but the city threatens to take even the park they have. So then compromise. This causes them to start losing focus and the edge to their art. Then each of them ends up going a different way for the summer. When they come back MainJane hopes her renewed passion is carried by the group, but that at first does not seem to be the case. They are preparing for university the next year. And life is busier than ever. A New girl at school really clashes with MainJane even though she is an artist. They are very different in their styles and approach. But they end up feeding off each other and inspiring each other. And in the end it comes down to a showdown with the city of the art space, and keeping it around for others to take over. In this edition you get not only three complete incredible stories you get a whole lot more. There is a wonderful forward by Mariko Tamaki. Between part 1 and 2 there is original concept art for Main Jane. Between parts 2 and 3 there is a section called ‘The Evolution of a Graphic Novel’ with a full page to each of the four steps. Then we are treated to original cover sketches, and 8 evolutions of cover options. And the book ends with other artists renditions of the Janes including: Joshua Middleton, Sophie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Cliff Chiang, Tom Scioli and Philip Bond. When I reviewed the first one 10 years ago I stated: “The story is great. It has a message every high school student and maybe every adult could learn from. It is incredibly well written and Jim Rugg did an amazing job illustrating the story. I have a feeling this will become one of those books I read annually because there will be more I can get from it each time I read it.” It has proved true and I am sure will be even more so with this third instalment added. I would love to see what happens to the Janes in University, or even after. But to finally have the third Janes story is a blessing and a treasure. If you have read either of the others you must pick up this to find out how the story continues. And if you have not it is an incredible read. Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More and reviews of other books by Cecil Castellucci. And also an author profile and interview with Miss Cecil.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    THE PLAIN JANES is a YA graphic novel that celebrates friendship and art. The book is in two parts for the first two graphic novels originally published years ago. THE PLAIN JANES tells of how Jane came to Kent Waters, a small town, found a group she wanted to call her own and began the PLAIN movement (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second, JANES IN LOVE, continues this storyline as well as goes into the romances that the Janes have, centered around the Ides of March dance, where girls THE PLAIN JANES is a YA graphic novel that celebrates friendship and art. The book is in two parts for the first two graphic novels originally published years ago. THE PLAIN JANES tells of how Jane came to Kent Waters, a small town, found a group she wanted to call her own and began the PLAIN movement (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second, JANES IN LOVE, continues this storyline as well as goes into the romances that the Janes have, centered around the Ides of March dance, where girls ask the boys. The main Jane (their names all happen to be variants of Jane) came from Metro City, and her parents moved her away to a small town after she was injured by a bomb explosion. This moment really altered Jane's perception, and when she helped another young man following, she found his Art Saves notebook. In the small town without museums, Jane is determined to bring art to the people, and so begins the PLAIN movement. However, the police and authorities are avidly against PLAIN from the start, focusing on the attack part of the art attacks. At the same time, Jane is dealing with a maybe-romance with Damon and parent issues, where her mother is constantly checking up on her- until another bad thing happens to someone her mother used to know, and she becomes so anxious she cannot leave the house. The book tackles some big issues in a really approachable way. The artwork is fantastic, and though a lot of the story is told in Jane's letters to John Doe (the man she helped save after the bomb) or through her thoughts and not dialogue, it is still really readable. The font size does mean I had to keep the book close to my face, but the text-to-image ratio is spot-on. The storyline itself is highly engaging, making this a really fun read to dive into. I would highly recommend for fans of books like MOXIE and ON THE COME UP. This is a really fun graphic novel. Please note that I received an ARC through The NOVL. All opinions are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andria Sedig

    I received a copy of this from the Novl via Goodreads and am so glad that I did. I don't keep up with graphic novel releases and this book was so cute. I loved the exploration of grief and overcoming trauma. I loved the role that art played in these stories. The art style was really cute as well. Highly recommend these graphic novels!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kales

    What an interesting book about art and friendship. I really enjoyed this story. It was unique and cute. I thought it also had a great look on PTSD. The relationship with the mother was also complicated and I appreciated that element as well. My only complaint is that it felt a little unrealistic. I don't know what it was about the whole thing but it just seemed like something that couldn't really happen. The teens were great and I loved the symbolism of the whole "Art Saves". But it just didn't What an interesting book about art and friendship. I really enjoyed this story. It was unique and cute. I thought it also had a great look on PTSD. The relationship with the mother was also complicated and I appreciated that element as well. My only complaint is that it felt a little unrealistic. I don't know what it was about the whole thing but it just seemed like something that couldn't really happen. The teens were great and I loved the symbolism of the whole "Art Saves". But it just didn't seem like a realistic endeavor. It was a great example of female friendships. I loved the Janes and how their own group of sisterhood were awesome. I'd highly recommend it to any young adults who are fans of graphic novels. Conclusion: Keep the ARC

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this book from TheNovl! Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Plain Janes Author: Cecil Castellucci Book Series: Janes Book 1-2 and Janes Attack Back Rating: 5/5 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication Date: January 7, 2020 Genre: Graphic Novel Contemporary Recommended Age: 15+ (bombing TW, terroristic threats mention TW, hijinks and law breaking behavior in the name of art!) Pages: 336 Amazon Link Synopsis: Meet the Plain Janes--teenage artist activists on Disclaimer: I received this book from TheNovl! Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Plain Janes Author: Cecil Castellucci Book Series: Janes Book 1-2 and Janes Attack Back Rating: 5/5 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication Date: January 7, 2020 Genre: Graphic Novel Contemporary Recommended Age: 15+ (bombing TW, terroristic threats mention TW, hijinks and law breaking behavior in the name of art!) Pages: 336 Amazon Link Synopsis: 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. Review: This book was amazing! I loved how the book was wrote in graphic novel form and I think it really enhanced the theme of how important art is to everyone. Art is everywhere and this book really highlights that fact. The book had amazing character development, especially for our main character, and it did well to discuss sensitive topics. The plot is also very well developed and immediately engrosses you. The only issue with the book is that the pacing is very fast, so if you’re not usually one for graphic novels it’ll throw you off balance. The book also ends on a cliffhanger but I’m so pumped for book 2 (3? I’m confused as I had two books in one arc but I think it was one book lol). Verdict: Amazing graphic novel series about art!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    I enjoyed this high school graphic novel about a city girl named Jane, injured in a terrorist attack, whose parents move to the safety of a suburb. Jane doesn't like the blandness of the burbs but quickly finds her crowd in a group of girls all named Jane. City Jane inspires the group to start a spontaneous (yet planned out) community art movement, sparking community fears of unknown people defacing property. Meanwhile, there are the trials and tribulations of high school romance or lack thereof I enjoyed this high school graphic novel about a city girl named Jane, injured in a terrorist attack, whose parents move to the safety of a suburb. Jane doesn't like the blandness of the burbs but quickly finds her crowd in a group of girls all named Jane. City Jane inspires the group to start a spontaneous (yet planned out) community art movement, sparking community fears of unknown people defacing property. Meanwhile, there are the trials and tribulations of high school romance or lack thereof and non-understanding parents. Like some of the other reviewers, I have an ARC and do not have the third part - Janes Attack Back - other than a preview. From what I read, I expect it is of the same quality as the rest of this volume. The strengths of this graphic novel are 1) encouraging self expression through art; 2) having friends that share goals; and 3) life is messy and some of the plot points simply don't have easy solutions. The weaknesses of this graphic novel are 1) each Jane has a stereotypical role - jock Jane, science nerd Jane, dramatic actress Jane. This is why I rate this at 4 stars despite liking it a lot. I'm fine with the 'messy' parts raised such as when is art defacement versus spontaneous expression (a theme teenagers through pranks as well as art have been grappling with for years and years) and how the cope with legitimate fears raised by modern life; and how to deal with threats that one can't control such as the attack which made Jane's parents decide to move away from Metro City and made Jane follow her passion for artistic expression. Still, this is a lot of fun to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookwormkatie

    This book was a meh for me. I give it three stars. I really wanted to love this more, but after a while it just got boring and hard to follow. I liked it for the first story, but soon after I lost interest. Also, color of the pages made it a little bit harder to read it. Overall, I think other people might like this book, but I didn't. Sad.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Belle Ellrich

    *I WAS PROVIDED AN ARC IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION* I'm always looking for new graphic novels to read. However, it takes a lot for me to *actually* be interested enough in them. This novel was okay to me. I liked the idea of a group of entirely different girls coming together to boost up and create something interesting and exciting for their community, but I felt like it was majorly lacking in some aspects. For that, I rate it 3 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    It had been awhile, and it forgotten how much I loved book 1.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daphne

    I received an ARC from TheNovl for an honest review. This book is a graphic novel bind-up of volumes 1-3, but the ARC only has volumes 1-2 ("The Plain Janes" and "Janes in Love") with a sneak peek of volume 3, "Janes Attack Back" and is in grayscale while the finished copy will have color. The novel mainly follows Jane Beckles, who moves from a big city to a suburban area after being in the midst of a terrorist attack in the city. She suffers from PTSD and struggles with seeing the good and I received an ARC from TheNovl for an honest review. This book is a graphic novel bind-up of volumes 1-3, but the ARC only has volumes 1-2 ("The Plain Janes" and "Janes in Love") with a sneak peek of volume 3, "Janes Attack Back" and is in grayscale while the finished copy will have color. The novel mainly follows Jane Beckles, who moves from a big city to a suburban area after being in the midst of a terrorist attack in the city. She suffers from PTSD and struggles with seeing the good and beauty in the world some days, but finds solace in art and the new friends (who all have some form of the name "Jane") at her new school, along with some other characters that both surprised and frustrated me. Throughout, Main Jane writes letters to a mysterious John Doe that she helped rescue after the attack and contemplates life and art through those letters while writing some of her deepest thoughts to him. That part of her struggle was both sad and uplifting to read at times, as she has to face a world after that attack, the changes it has brought to not only herself, but her family, and those around her- the community and everyone else in general. She tries to make loveliness in the world through these guerrilla art projects/ installations around town in "The Plain Janes," and that continues into "Janes in Love," while having added themes of love and drama surrounding it, as well as personal growth in herself, her art, and her friendship with the other Janes. There's Main Jane, the main character, then Theater Jane, Brain Jayne and lastly, Sporty Polly Jane. They all have different interests, but come together through art. They also have very different personalities, but are all somehow friends. I loved their spirit and courage, and how they are so down to do things. Even Cindy surprised me, although Damon annoyed me a lot throughout. Like boy, make up your mind! James was a fun addition to the all-Jane group, but I felt like he was overshadowed a lot, poor lonely only-gay boy in the school (purportedly). Overall, I liked this graphic novel with its group of rebellious girls who come together to try to make art and an impact. All the art stuff made me happy even though Jane's sadness and certain experiences also made me empathize with her and made me sad. I'm curious to see how the story will end in the third volume.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    There were things I loved about this book and there things that made me go...eh, hmmm, and ugh. Id prefer to focus on what I liked! * The overall message and theme of these stories are positive! Art is therapeutic and truly can save lives. * The artwork is very cute. Love the character designs and color schemes used for the stories. * Its easy reading. I teach 4th grade and at the moment I have about five students I know are going to adore this book. There were things I loved about this book and there things that made me go...”eh”, “hmmm”, and “ugh”. I’d prefer to focus on what I liked! * The overall message and theme of these stories are positive! Art is therapeutic and truly can save lives. * The artwork is very cute. Love the character designs and color schemes used for the stories. * It’s easy reading. I teach 4th grade and at the moment I have about five students I know are going to adore this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I read the first volume of The Plain Janes when it came out a whole bunch of years ago, but never got around to reading the second. Now it has a third volume out and they bundled all three into one big, awesome read. I really love the art activism and the heart they put into it. Love. It. I only deducted a star because for some reason in the third volume Theater Jane only talks in literary quotes and I was frustrated that they took away her voice. Otherwise, love.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bill O'driscoll

    This fine graphic novel about a group of high school girls who form a guerilla-art club in their suburban town actually compiles the first two installments, from 2007 and 2008, respectively, with a new, third book whose completion was delayed over a decade ago when the publishing imprint abruptly folded. It's fun to watch the four "Janes" go on their respective journeys through all four years of high school, even as other key characters -- the "main Jane"'s parents, assorted friends, love This fine graphic novel about a group of high school girls who form a guerilla-art club in their suburban town actually compiles the first two installments, from 2007 and 2008, respectively, with a new, third book whose completion was delayed over a decade ago when the publishing imprint abruptly folded. It's fun to watch the four "Janes" go on their respective journeys through all four years of high school, even as other key characters -- the "main Jane"'s parents, assorted friends, love interests and antagonists -- are explored and added. Rugg's fresh artwork is a perfect complement to Castellucci's lively plotting and dialogue. Great to see girl protagonists (this series was ahead of its time in that regard) as well as the philosophical discussions that transpire about the nature and value of art, especially in public spaces, and the sometimes painful lessons that accompany growing up.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dani (Paperback Wishes)

    I very much enjoyed this book. It definitely makes me wish for a different time, different world even. I really loved the merging of mental health with art along side a more modern conversation on the state of the world. The comic is both incredibly smart and fun.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    A cute, thought provoking graphic novel about dealing with trauma, finding yourself and finding your tribe of people. Art is a huge focal point for the characters in the book and it was fun to see this group of seemingly different people bond and forge friendships over art and what it means to them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mari Johnston

    This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl. Content Warnings: terrorist attacks (bombing, anthrax poisoning), PTSD, anxiety, paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, hospitals, homophobia, bullying, sexism 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 wasnt in love with any other than This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl. Content Warnings: terrorist attacks (bombing, anthrax poisoning), PTSD, anxiety, paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, hospitals, homophobia, bullying, sexism 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. 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    This was such an inspiring read. Im not a huge graphic novel fan, but this one had such a good message. The exploration of art and its impact on both creator and viewer is done in a beautiful way. There is also discussion of modern-day controversies that impacted Jane and her reasoning and motivations; these were done really well too. The illustrations throughout were amazing and supported the story so well. Because of my inexperience with graphic novels and familiarity with novels, I felt like This was such an inspiring read. I’m not a huge graphic novel fan, but this one had such a good message. The exploration of art and its impact on both creator and viewer is done in a beautiful way. There is also discussion of modern-day controversies that impacted Jane and her reasoning and motivations; these were done really well too. The illustrations throughout were amazing and supported the story so well. Because of my inexperience with graphic novels and familiarity with novels, I felt like the characters weren’t quite fleshed out enough. This isn’t to say the graphic novel lacked development, just that I’m not accustomed to this story format. Overall, this was such an important read. The story flew by; it was so easy to read and take to heart the message the authors want to get across. I would 100% recommend this!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina G.

    I really loved The Plain Janes. I dont typically read graphic novels so I wasnt sure what to expect when I started reading this. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the book pulled me in. This is a heartfelt story with fantastic artwork that adds another level to the emotions and plot. The Janes are all very different but work so well together. I really loved that it has such a strong message about hope, standing up for what you believe in and finding your tribe. I was gifted a free copy of I really loved The Plain Janes. I don’t typically read graphic novels so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the book pulled me in. This is a heartfelt story with fantastic artwork that adds another level to the emotions and plot. The Janes are all very different but work so well together. I really loved that it has such a strong message about hope, standing up for what you believe in and finding your tribe. I was gifted a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbra

    This first instalment graphic novel that I received as an ARC contains two stories that follow the Plain Janes as they as they tackle high school, friendships and love, while trying to make their artistic mark on the town. All named Jane and sitting at the reject table, they each have their own gifts; brains, sports, theater and art. A fun page-turner about fitting in yet standing out, for readers aged 12 and up.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I read this book based on the recommendation of our school librarian who was seeking my input on whether or not it would be appropriate for some of our younger readers. As this is a complication of three graphic novels, my short answer would be, no. I would not give this collection to my typical 5th grade graphic novel enthusiast. I dont consider it to be a go to recommendation for my students who are Babysitters Club or Sunny series loyalists, not to say they wont enjoy it in time... However, I read this book based on the recommendation of our school librarian who was seeking my input on whether or not it would be appropriate for some of our younger readers. As this is a complication of three graphic novels, my short answer would be, no. I would not give this collection to my typical 5th grade graphic novel enthusiast. I don’t consider it to be a go to recommendation for my students who are Babysitter’s Club or Sunny series loyalists, not to say they won’t enjoy it in time... However, there are some 5th graders who would quite enjoy it and who are able to understand its complexities. The collection begins with an introduction to the main character who is a victim of a terrorist attack and her emotional and physical journey to survive after the attack. This could be a difficult topic for a 5th grader or any student with anxiety, but it also offers an opportunity for discussion on a difficult part of modern student life (including lockdown drills). None of the books within the collection are overly sexual, nor is there inappropriate language used; but the characters do make choices that go against figures of authority, which may be misinterpreted by younger readers, yet again it could lead to important dialogue between a mentor and younger reader. Overall, this series was an enjoyable quick read, that I would recommend to anyone who loves art movements or is seeking a modern teen tale with some substance. Think Molly Ringwald in post-Parkland society.

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