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Planet Janet


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About the Author

Dyan Sheldon is the author of many books for young people, including Sophie Pitt-Turnbull Discovers America, I Conquer Britain and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which was made into a major film. She has also written a number of stories for adults and younger readers, including the 1991 Kate Greenaway Medal-winning picture book The Whales' Song. Born in America, Dyan now lives in north London.


Gr 7-10-This bitingly witty novel reads like a cross between Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (Viking, 1998) and Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13-3/4 (Avon, 1984). It's tough to feel properly appreciated for your questing and artistic soul when you're surrounded by shallow, lifeless, and "v. boring" parents. And so, Janet Foley Bandry, age 16, decides to embark on the "Dark Phase" of her life by exploring her creative nature, nurturing her passionate soul, and wearing only black and purple. She goes through typical teen self-absorption, which is relieved only by hour-long conversations with her best friend and soul mate, Disha, and they dissect every nuance of everything they've endured, usually incorrectly. But somehow over the course of five months, during which time Janet suffers many indignities and humiliations and her parents separate, it looks like the drama queen of "Planet Janet" is actually starting to become a little bit more compassionate and grown up. Meg Cabot's fans will enjoy this lightweight foray into British teen melodrama.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

In this often funny but ultimately disappointing novel, 16-year-old Janet journals about life in the "Dark Phase," in which she and her best friend, Disha, attempt to "be in touch with the real stuff. The deep pain and joy." In her quest, Janet tries yoga from a book and gets her nose pierced, but she is oblivious to the issues going on around her. The boy for whom she became a vegetarian is obviously not interested in her; the girl hanging outside her house is actually stalking her brother; and her father's having an affair with a neighbor, causing her mother a considerable amount of stress. Janet's cluelessness can be comical, such as when she and Disha fail to make the connection between the candles they are using for a spell and the smoke alarm going off in the house, or when she is outraged by her father's suggestion that she vacuum ("If he thinks I'm going to be his skivvy, he can think again"). Sheldon includes interesting details about many of the characters in the book (Janet's grandmother was a spy and her lesbian aunt is having a baby, for example). But unlike the cast of her Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, the people here mostly fail to come alive. Janet's antics are entertaining, but she herself is not particularly likable and the narrative seems derivative, rather than energized with the fresh repartee of Sheldon's previous novels. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)

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