REVIEW: Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon

011. Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon
Publication: Candlewick (February 1, 2003), Hardcover, 240pp / ISBN 0763620483
Genre: YA Fiction

Read: January 20-21, 2012
Source: Used Bookstore


Diaries-as-books are some of my favorite things, and I especially like reading teenage diaries. Maybe because I find them so funny nowadays? Teenagers can be melodramatic and selfish and very silly– and Janet’s all those things. In a funny way, of course! Well, mostly funny.

The funny bits stem primarily from Janet’s complete inability to understand what’s going on around her. She’s 16, convinced she needs to go through a “Dark Phase” (which consists mainly of listening to jazz, wearing black clothes, and thinking deep thoughts) before she gets any older, and in despair of her very uncool family. Luckily she’s got a diary where she can write everything down!

The author

So Janet’s basically a normal teen who thinks her family is weird and that she’s super special and that her friends are the best people ever. Which is adorable! And also hilarious, the way Dyan Sheldon write it. And, also, kind of annoying, if that sort of thing annoys rather than entertains you.

I’ll admit that while I was entertained for the most part, I was annoyed with Janet for being such a dunderhead. She’s so self-involved that she doesn’t realize her parents are going through big problems, that her brother is being stalked, and that she’s being fought over by two of her friends. I didn’t find it particularly charming, either, that her codename for her mother was “The Mad Cow.”

Sometimes it’s nice when the reader realizes things that the protagonist doesn’t, and then we see the protagonist realize those things and it changes them, etc. But when Janet finally figured all that stuff out, it didn’t change her at all! Which is a shame, because some character growth at the end would have been very refreshing. I like my comedy books with a bit more depth, I suppose.

Still, Planet Janet is a cute book, with some fun plotlines and a great setting (London!). The characters are all ridiculous, but in a lovable kind of way, and while I don’t think it’s as LOL-funny as some other YA diary books it’s still pretty entertaining. I’d read the sequels!


I liked it!


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Re:the mad cow thing, from the author’s website:

I have the sneaking suspicion that the idea for this book came to me when my daughter rediscovered her teenage diaries and though I never read them, she did let slip that I was often referred to as “The Mad Cow”. I don’t know how terrifically funny I would have found this at the time, but now that I could see this was merely the exaggeration of adolescence I thought it was pretty hilarious. (source)

The author’s photo comes from Goodreads. It’s not mine! Book cover comes from Amazon. It’s not mine, either.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon”

  1. I love the title and cover for this one, but I know what you mean about books where the audience is more self-aware than the protagonist. I had the same issue with the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books (although the books worked far better than the film). Definitely a personal taste thing.

    1. Yes! It was the same with the Adrian Mole books. Sometimes it’s just really annoying being smarter than the person you’re reading about.

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