Virtually every teenager goes through it. One day they decide they're going to become more sophisticated, and like Janet, think reading Beat poetry, listening to jazz, and changing their diet and/or wardrobe is the way to achieve such sophistication. It is no surprise then, that when Janet Bandry, protagonist of Dyan Sheldon's "Planet Janet" and her best friend, Disha, decide to enter the "Dark Phase" (or "DP") of their lives, that these are the first things they do.
Sure to please fans of Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging", "Planet Janet" chronicles Janet's five-month journey into the world of yoga, vegetarianism, and "deep, intellectual thought" through her diary entries. Already thoroughly self-absorbed (hence her parents nickname for her, "Planet Janet"), Janet reaches the epitome of teen solipsism before true tragedy brings her back to Earth. Loaded with slang, criticism of her "self-absorbed" family members, and a few graphic sexual references, the book takes the adult reader back to their own "Dark Phase" and is sure to engage the average 16-year old girl. At times the book is laugh-out-loud funny; at others, Janet's egotism is so utterly pathetic that one prays s/he wasn't that ignorant and aloof as a teen and that not all teens are so narcissistic.
Besides being a very easy read due to the diary format, another plus is the handy glossary Sheldon included at the back of the book. While most of the slang is easy to understand or figure out, there are a few words or abbreviations that might throw someone unfamiliar with British culture and language. "Planet Janet" is listed as suitable for ages nine and up, but is more likely suited to those a little older for several reasons. Chances are a nine-year old won't be able to fully relate to Janet or appreciate a lot of the literary, political, and philosophical references. In addition, though younger readers might be familiar with the sexual references, it is better to err on the side of caution as the few entries that do discuss sex can be somewhat graphic. All in all "Planet Janet" is a fun, quick read for young adults and not-so-young adults alike and is a must for anyone that has ever been in a "Dark Phase" of their own.