21 January 2009

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci

The Plain Janes is a graphic novel published by Minx, which is the DC Comics imprint aimed toward teenage girls. The story is about a girl named Jane who survives a bombing of a cafe in her city. This freaks her parents out so much that they move the family to a small suburban town. She immediately identifies with a group of misfit girls and sets about making friends with them, while trying to make sense of what happened to her. The main way Jane manages to cope is through art and beautifying the world around her.

I have three daughters and a son and they all like this book. It is a quick read, but that doesn't meant it isn't deep. This book touches on a lot of issues without beating the kids over the head with them -- fitting in, showing kindness to strangers, and dealing with fear, to name a few. The art is black and white, crisp and clear. I'm not a fan of the hairy R. Crumb/Harvey Pekar underground art style, and this is the opposite of that.

The book has a tentative ending. It is conclusive enough to feel like an ending, but there is still a vague feeling that there should be more story. It isn't the cliff-hanger ending that you get with a standard comic book, but it does leave you wanting to spend more time with these characters. I guess that is good because there is already a second book, Janes in Love. I've read that a total of five books are planned, and I say bring 'em on!

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