Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mini Graphic Reviews: The Plain Janes and Brain Camp

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Review by Lauren

Source: Library Copy, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When a transfer student named Jane is forced to move from the cool confines of Metro City to Suburbia, she thinks her life is over. But there in the lunch room at the reject table she finds her tribe: three other girls named Jane. Main Jane encourages them to form a secret art gang and paint the town P.L.A.I.N. - People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. But can art attacks really save the hell that is high school?

Review: I really liked this one! I liked that there were a variety of characters, without relying too much on stereotypes. Main Jane moves to Suburbia because of a shocking and life-changing event, but by joining up with the other Janes and forming P.L.A.I.N., she is able to find a new community to belong too. Unfortunately, their art attacks are not taken lightly by the adults and it makes their "job" a little more difficult.

I think the adults were overreacting for the most part. A lot of what the girls were doing was about art and doing good in the world. I found the ending to be a bit abrupt, but then I noticed online that there is another Jane book out called Janes in Love so I think we might get more information about the ending there. At any rate, it's a pretty well-rounded graphic novel and something I'd easily read again.

Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks

Review by Lauren

Source: Library Copy, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Neither artistic, dreamy Jenna nor surly, delinquent Lucas expected to find themselves at an invitation-only summer camp that turns problem children into prodigies. And yet, here they both are at Camp Fielding, settling in with all the other losers and misfits who’ve been shipped off by their parents in a last-ditch effort to produce a child worth bragging about.

But strange disappearances, spooky lights in the woods, and a chilling alteration that turns the dimmest, rowdiest campers into docile zombie Einsteins have Jenna and Lucas feteling more than a little suspicious . . . and a lot afraid.

Review: I wasn't really a fan of this graphic novel, though there were some aspects that I enjoyed. I liked the commentary on trying to make your child into a prodigy, when really, most people are "average" or "above average." That's not a problem though; not everyone can be some super genius. Both Jenna and Lucas' families think they need to change and become better and I found this part of the book to be interesting and it's something a lot of teens could probably relate too.

There is a couple moments in the book (one with Jenna and one with Lucas) where they are faced with "teenage" problems so to speak, which again, is something you don't often see portrayed in novels (especially graphic novels) so that was an interesting addition.

I suppose, in the end, I liked the characters a lot but the overall storyline was just a bit too crazy for me. These kids are obviously being affected by something and the answer is quite sci-fi and strange. I could see a younger crowd, especially boys, finding it pretty cool though.

I read these both for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge


Jasprit said...

You are on a roll with these graphic novels, I think The Plain Janes book would also be more my sort of read too. I'm glad there's more from the Jane's to come! Great reviews! :)

Tracy Terry said...

A shame these sounded a bit hit and miss as I really like the covers.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Too bad the story wasn't as good as characters.

Liviania said...

I love Castellucci and Faith Erin Hicks - maybe they'll collaborate one day.

Kindlemom said...

Sorry you didn't like the one as much as the other. It sounds like each had their good points though and their lows.

A Voracious Reader said...

I've been trying to read a few more graphic novels lately. I may have to add these to the list. :)

Krysten Quiles said...

What a bummer you didn't like this as much.

Aylee said...

Hmm, yeah I'm not sure that Brain Camp would be for me either. Sounds maybe a bit "out there" though it's nice that you point out that another, different audience would probably be more appreciative of it. Love the premise for The Plain Janes!

Medeia Sharif said...

I need to stop in my library and see if there are graphic novels. The electronic ones I usually get are sometimes hard to read.

Melliane said...

Sorry that the second one wasn't as good. But it's nice to see that you had many different characters like that.

Haley @ YA-Aholic said...

Ohh I might have to look into Plain Janes (: Bummer you didn't like the second one as much though! I recently started reading the graphic novels for the Fables series, love them so far!

Kristen said...

Plain Janes is awesome! One of my favorites easily and there's another one - Janes in Love. You should see if you can find it.

I really enjoyed Brain Camp, but it's definitely a grosser book and more in the middle grade boy genre of graphic novel I think. I really enjoyed it though, especially the graphics.

LHughes said...

This post made me realize that I'm not reading enough graphic novels! I did a great job for awhile because I had students who were so into them and always wanting new recommendations. Plus, graphic novels are generally quick reads and I'm currently failing miserably at my Goodreads Challenge... haha! I'll definitely be checking out Jane!

Lauren @ Wordy Hughes