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The New York Four Paperback – July 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Minx; First Edition edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401211542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401211547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,285,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Riley enters into a standardized test beta with three NYU classmates in order to make some money to get an apartment together. A good student with limited social skills due to her controlling, academic parents, the teen relies heavily on online interactions. As she begins to get to know her classmates and to reconnect with her outcast older sister, a secret virtual relationship threatens to destabilize everything. Wood is known for incorporating a strong sense of place into his comic work, and, while this is a story about growing up and learning to communicate, the classic bohemian fixtures of clubs and brownstones, and the inclusion of New York City landmarks, help make the book feel grounded. Kelly's energetic artwork conveys a sense of activity and movement. His portrayal of one character, Merissa, tends toward caricature more than the others, and panels are occasionally too busy to find the focus of the scene easily, but the detailed settings are nicely evocative. Wood tries to do too much, resulting in a scattered set-up of Riley's classmates' individual stories–glimpses of what are surely the main focuses of future volumes–leaving readers with what is disappointingly not quite an entire story, but one that is superbly told.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As in Local and DMZ, indie superstar Wood shows great skill in writing extremely appealing and occasionally infuriating female leads. All four of the college freshmen at the center of this tale are well realized, but it’s shy, sheltered Riley who is the focus of this girlcentric offering. Riley’s life is packed with drama as she meets up with her estranged older sister and struggles to balance school, family, and a mysterious new boyfriend—whom she has never met but texts to the point of obsession. Kelly’s art, filled with expressive, idiosyncratic faces and figures, matches Wood’s indie street cred with gritty depictions of the Lower East Side. He captures actual New York locations with nearly photographic accuracy, matching Wood’s affection for the city, itself made obvious by the passages of hipster, travel-guide stuff packed into the story. Despite a disturbingly ambiguous ending, this graphic novel will delight readers on the cusp of discovering their own independence. Grades 10-12. --Jesse Karp

Customer Reviews

The book's trying a little too hard to be cool.
Lindsey R. Nichols
Drawn with a mixed style of various frames and full page spreads, the artwork in the book is wonderful.
Steven R. McEvoy
The story and characters are as complex and interesting as in any prose novel or movie.
Steve Fuson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Schach the Monkey on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Enjoyable romp through NYC behind the eyes of an NYU freshman who's reconnecting with her estranged big sister. Hard to resist these vicarious charms of the city, with all its hipsters and distractions and sights to see. Only slight drawback in the story is that the four girls are stated and presumed to be great friends, but we never quite see it happening, only hear about it. But it wasn't so hard to believe as to ruin the well-paced, beautifully-drawn story. The characters of Merissa and Angie are especially engaging, and the drawings on pages 34 and 59 are especially strikingly done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on November 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
The New York Four is almost as much of a tour book as a graphic novel. Artist Ryan Kelly duplicates actual Big Apple scenes down to the billboards and graffiti practically, and writer Brian Wood splatters the text with you-are-there descriptions of the locale. He offers sightseeing tips, restaurant guides, record-store reviews and more; it's like getting a tour of the sites used in the making of the story while you're still reading the story.

It's a fun concept for a graphic novel, and with an illustrator as talented as Kelly, one whose work so effortlessly captures real life and true human features, it's a natural. Wood unfortunately dips into pedantry at times with his descriptions (he assumes his audience is not only completely unaware of New York, but also doesn't know who Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison are). No matter. The New York Four has more than enough charm to make up for this, starting with the fact that it's delightfully free of melodrama. It's not purposely dark and insular.

While The New York Four is ostensibly about four friends, the title could just as easily be about the 4 subway train. That's how deeply into the heart of the city the book delves, and how much it succeeds in capturing the look and feel of the city. The story centers primarily on just one of the gang of four (the other three are fascinating too, but they're seen primarily in sequel-preparing glimpses). Riley is a native New Yorker, but her freshman year at NYU is her first trip into Manhattan. She's been raised by obsessively overprotective parents in Brooklyn, pushed to excel academically but not allowed to develop her own interests. Even her personality is sheltered and underformed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cai Yixin Jeremy on December 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
The New York Four (MINX)

To be honest, I originally wanted to hold off on getting this book because of its target demographic, but as soon as I saw the preview art on it I was sold. The art was every bit as good as Local's and Brian's writing was just as good.

I loved the format as well, I've always wanted to read a manga sized American comic. It has the same feel as a manga volume and it has the structure of one too. It's broken down into bite sized chapters, much like in manga, and you can easily finish reading it in about an hour or so (if you're a slow reader like me).

Like in Local, we have a female protaganist, Riley, who has just enrolled into NYU. She's a quiet character though and that dynamic soon comes into play; she has to fend for herself right from the get-go and she soon finds that university is just the beginning of her struggles. But, thankfully, she has help in the form of her girlfriends. Before long, this book unfolds pretty much the way you expect it to, 'girl' problems abound.

In other words, its just like Local but with a lighter tone. And that's great if you want more of that kind of storytelling. If you aren't looking for another Local, then I'm afraid you may find yourself getting bored very quickly. My suggestion would be to read the preview first and see if you like it; that's what I did and that paid off big time; this book will be a permanant fixture on my bookshelf.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lindsey R. Nichols on February 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading "The New York Four," I could really take it or leave it. Lots of potential and good story work, but it gets bogged down until ultimately the comic's not all that great. The main idea of a traditional coming of age story that takes place in NYC really isn't all that bad. Riley, our heroine, is struggling to enter the adult world, figure out how to actually interact with people, and find her own place in the world.

It's the little things that drag this story from a four to a three star. First off, it's a little trendy. It has that whole NYC worship going on, occasionally encourages that hipper-than-thou, I heard that band first attitude, and titles each chapter with the name of a Cat Power song. The book's trying a little too hard to be cool. Secondly, at least half of the group of girls that composes 'The New York Four' have serious issues, that seem to get brushed aside as small, quirky personality faults. One of the girls is described as dating five different guys concurrently, while also dating another guy in order to keep her job. Another of the girls is actually a stalker. Full-fledged, possibly scary movie stalker. Developing her own secretly taken photographs and everything. Additionally, the major plot twist of the story can be seen coming from a mile away. And taking the mystery out of the ending is one of the quickest ways to kill interest in a book.

These flaws overpower Riley's story. Between Riley trying to become an adult and reconnecting with her family, Wood has a pretty solid storyline. Ryan Kelly's art is also very solid.
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