The Plain Janes - Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. I am a big Jim Rugg fan, and have wanted to read this since it came out. I was not familiar with Cecil Castellucci prior to this, but will check out her other stuff based on the strength of this one. I am a big fan of Teen Movies. I can't help it, it's my secret shame, or would be if I was actually ashamed of it. 10 things I hate about you, Can't hardly wait, etc. etc. etc. I generally like them. I thought this book read like what a good teen movie should be, and a bit more.
This story has pretty great depth without seeming deep or coming across heavy handed. It's about friendship and finding your place and free expression and art and the desire to be a part of something bigger and the need to be true to yourself, and the sense of helplessness we can feel in post '9-11' America. The fun part to me is how The main character Jane (MainJane) arrives at her new school and snubs the pretty and popular table to sit with the 'rejects' that she sees as her tribe. She isn't immediately embraced by them either, and at no point in the story does she betray them or act in a way that is untrue to her self.
The Re-Gifters - Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel
I love the art in this book, and the story even moreso. This story is a bit simpler than Plain Janes, but that doesn't make it shallow. It's a pretty standard sort of story with some unexpected bits and some nice twists in it. It is a believable and understandable story. That's not to say that it is fully realistic, but it's... real.
The nice thing about this story is that the main character is a Korean girl, and while we get a good feeling for that in her narration and references to culture and such, the cast of this story is wildly diverse, and none of it feels forced or fake. It is a story about a kid in LA, post-Rodney King riots, but still feeling the repercussions of that event to some degree. Those things just flow naturally around the story, and again, as the story is well written, it only adds to the total piece, making it feel like it is a real place and time with real people in it.
Both of these books are excellent and I recommend them to anyone who likes things that are nice and anyone who likes well written and well drawn comics. I made my 14 year old daughter at least try to read these books, as well as the two I had previously talked about, and she mostly read them, and liked them. I say mostly, because I think she skimmed parts of them. We talked about the books and the imprint going under as well as her tastes in comics and fiction and what mattered and didn't to her. Some of that, however, will have to wait until I post THAT post about Minx.