Book post: The New York Four

IN one of my previous blog posts I talked about mine and my boyfriend’s love of reading, and collecting nice editions of, books. Well I’ve found myself reading a lot this year (mostly Agatha Christie!) so I’ve decided to start posting reviews of books I’ve read on here. They won’t be in-depth critical reviews but they will, hopefully, give you a quick overview of the book, why I chose it and why you should/shouldn’t read it. So here we go with the first entry:

The New York Four – Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

The New York Four cover
First I’ll start with a bit of background about how I came across this. I love reading graphic novels, but unfortunately I don’t have a very large collection at home as they are a) sometimes quite expensive b) hard to find in libraries (although I must say that some public library’s now have a fantastic graphic novel collection).

However, my collection is gradually growing as I always try to buy a new graphic novel when I pass a nice independent store.

Page 45 is my favourite in Nottingham (they also have the most amazing website – check out the recommendations feature, I found it to be really helpful) and I often buy a volume of Fables from there when i’m passing.

I have to admit, I don’t really like the Forbidden Planet in Nottingham as it’s too merchandise focused and I’ve found the staff to be quite dismissive and rude sometimes, whereas Page 45 are always friendly and helpful.

On a recent trip to London (you can read all about that day on my friend Kerry’s blog) I stumbled across Orbital Comics in Chinatown. Well, what a find it was. Vast well-stocked shelves, great conversations to eavesdrop on and most important of all, friendly and helpful service.

After wandering around the store for 15 minutes or so, The New York Four caught my eye. It was on their recommendations, I liked the cover art and the blurb sounded right up my street. I immediately headed to the counter to pay where the guy (and a nearby customer) gave me their review (very positive) as well as a list of other graphic novels I should check out if I liked it. This is what the best comic book stores do so well – not looking down on those who want to try something new and then giving them recommendations of where to go next.

So, what’s it about?

The New York Four is from writer Brian Wood and artist Ryan Kelly and is published by the female focused imprint Minx. It’s the story of Riley, a grade A college student at NYU who, due to her shyness, struggles to form relationships with those around her. After encouraging some of her classmates to take part in a research group, Riley starts to get closer to them and eventually becomes their friend.

For Riley, it seems as though all good things are happening at once as she also reconnects with her cool older sister, who was shunned by her family as a teenager for rebelling, and she starts receiving messages from an anonymous admirer known only as “sneakerfreak”. Bolstered by her new friendships and virtual relationship, Riley starts to live the student life she’s always wanted.

But the question remains of whether Riley can keep up with the pace of her new life and sustain her new relationships? As ever, the path doesn’t run smooth and things may not be what they seem…

So, what did I think?

Following the end of Scott Pilgrim (sob), I was desperate for something similar to read in its place. With The New York Four, I think I found it! It feels just as fresh and modern and the art and format is quite similar (without being copycat identical). I love that it has the character ‘status’ boxes and there are brilliant, quirky little ‘New York 101’ boxes which give the reader the inside scoop on where to go and what to do in New York. I will definitely be taking this with me the next time I go.

Overall, the story is really involving, the twists are great and the characters are interesting. I want more!

The guy in the store recommended that I try Northlanders also by Brian Wood next. After enjoying this one so much, I’ll definitely pop into Page 45 to pick that up soon. As well as a copy of the sequel to New York Four, called ‘New York Five’.

Why should you read it?

It really gives you a flavour of New York
It’s great for Scott Pilgrim fans who are looking to try something else

Why shouldn’t you read it?

If you don’t really like modern-day, real-world set stories
If you don’t like quirky features such as information boxes
If you’re not into girl-focused graphic novels

Let me know what you think and if you have any recommendations.

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