The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means, Joe Flood, MK Reed
Published by First Second on November 12th, 2013
Genres: contemporary, graphic novel
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Jane's new in town. When she wipes out on her skateboard right in front of Jack's food cart, she finds herself agreeing to go on a date with him. Jane's psyched that her love life is taking a turn for the friskier, but it turns out that Jack has a spotty romantic history, to put it mildly. Cue the Cute Girl Network — a phone tree information-pooling group of local single women. Poor Jane is about to learn every detail of Jack's past misadventures… whether she wants to or not. Will love prevail? In this graphic novel from Greg Means, Americus author MK Reed, and Joe Flood, the illustrator of Orcs, comes a fast, witty, and sweet romantic comedy that is actually funny, and actually romantic.
Kara was kind enough to send me this one when I read her review. After reading the description, I was highly interested in reading this graphic novel.
I won’t say that it was bad, because there are some awesome scenes with Jane and how she handles the constant sexual harassment and sexism she faces each day. The art is cute, and the Twilight parody included in the novel is worth picking up this read.
I won’t say it was outstanding, either. Most of the people in the novel are downright unlikeable. The Cute Girl Network does everything in their power to shut out guys they deem unworthy. That is an awfully huge responsibility to take on. Harriet, Jane’s main contact, downright bullies her and becomes very extreme to keep Jane from dating Jack, the male “cute” boy of the story. I really do not understand how Jane kept from lashing out at her. The bottom line is: you cannot force someone to do something. You give them what they need to know and let them make their own decision. Harriet‘s goal for CGN is to reign supreme over everyone’s love life and transform into the know-it-all love guru. She’s so full of herself, and it is a huge hit against the mission of the Cute Girl Network. Personally, I took that the network was set up to educate girls and keep them safe, not to bully and harass those who go against their wishes. What about the other side of the story, as well? This is slighting touched upon when Jane talks to Jake, but it seems that it is very one sided. Girls are not perfect. Girls make mistakes as well. The novel tries to place the blame of bad relationships solely on the boys, when it is 50/50.
With that out of the way, the males in the novel are not model material in any way. Jack’s roommate is a sexist ass who, if true to life, will eventually go to prison on sexual assault charges. The men treat Jane like a set of tits with no brain. And Jack…..oh, Jack. While I defended him in the sentence above, there is nothing redeeming about his character. When he does get to tell Jane about his side of the story with some of the rumors out of the CGN, it does nothing to help clear his name. There are socially awkward people, and there are people who are too self involved to give a damn about others. I never would have dated Jack, and he gained no points with me when he responded to the accusations of the other girls in the network. For crying out loud, who seriously blathers about their sex life to someone’s mother?! I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but how he treated the other girls he dated really made him appear to be a scumbag. He can’t hold down a job and he’s lazy and a slob. While he seems charming, these qualities bleed over into his love life as well. Not long-term boyfriend material right there.
Jane seems to be the only character I liked in the novel. She stands up to her harassers with style and flare. As a girl in a male-dominated hobby, she faces the constant onslaught of sexist views. Time and time again, she has to defend herself from others who see her as a “poser” or a fake. She’s unapologetic and she has a good head on her shoulders. The strongest parts of the story was when the novel focused solely on Jane and her daily ordeals with the male mentality towards skater girls.
The art is cute and there are some shining moments in the novel. If you’re looking for some pro-girl fiction, I would recommend this one. It does have its charms, and it raises some questions about modern dating habits and how social media (in this case, text messages) has changed the field.