“The Network is a loose alliance of smart, beautiful young women who’ve come to share information about all the spazzes, dorks, tools, freaks, perverts, losers, and dumbass boys in the city and to prevent yet another awesome girl for falling for yet another lame guy.” – The Cute Girl Network
Many women – and men – find themselves in a sticky, unpleasant situation when their friends are dating people who are clearly (from an outsider perspective, at least) not worthy of them. Love is blind, and sometimes when you try to disillusion people, they just shut you out.
The Cute Girl Network, a graphic novel by MK Reed, Joe Flood, and Greg Means, offers a hilarious solution to this problem – a network of women who prevent their members from dating undesirables by putting the word out on their unsatisfactory ex-boyfriends; in this case, getting the skateboard chick protagonist Jane, up to speed on clumsy, forgetful Jack’s past dating misadventures. It seems like the perfect solution; Jane is a fun, smart, and talented girl who would be better without a loser in her life. Only Jane doesn’t really think along those lines: “I don’t want some guy who’ll look good on a Christmas card or has a great resume. I want someone I’m gonna be happy with from day to day.”
The Network’s intrusion on Jane’s love life provides excellent food for thought on the subject of modern love and dating. When should you give someone a second chance? How much dating advice is actually helpful? How do you fall in love, without being blind?
However, more than taking a stance on whether Jane or the Network is right, the novel takes a stance on contemporary portrayals of love and romance – namely, that most of them suck. In one memorable scene in the novel, Jane’s friends are reading aloud from “Vampyr Boyfriend,” a spot-on parody of Twilight, in which the romantic leads, stalker vampire Caleb and gothic girl Chastity, gaze intensely at each other and mope a lot.
Author MK Reed explains her frustration with contemporary love portrayals: “Messages of ‘Your ambition is sabotaging your love life!’ and ‘A Real Man will solve all your problems!’ drive me nuts. I just got married and while admittedly it’s nice, the only life problems it solved is ‘Who will go to the store when I don’t want to?’ and ‘Who will save me from choking to death in my apartment?’”
Thankfully, Reed’s own love story is a breath of fresh, realistic, air – and one that you can read in under 24 hours. This awkward, funny romance is well worth your time.