“New York Four” by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

I’m one of the few people who don’t seem to like the Minx line of graphic novels from DC Comics (see positive reviews here, here, and here, for example.) But I read New York Four because my friend the Big Brain assured me it was good. I read it; when I told him I didn’t agree, he said I must hate everything. Not true, but I clearly am not the target audience for the Minx books, though I appreciate well-done YA books.

Riley is a first year student at NYU who is overly attached to her Blackberry. In spite of her antisocial ways, she manages to make friends with three girls: a non-brilliant beauty from a wealthy family, a socially inept jock, and a tightly wound academic. (They didn’t dig very deep into the YA cliched character closet.) She has an older sister who she hasn’t seen for years, who was kicked out by their parents for an unknown reason. The four girls all get jobs that require psyche interviews, which are used to convey the girls’ thoughts and feelings.

Will she find out her sister’s secret? Will she regret her attachment to virtual friends instead of real ones? In spite of one part of the ending that was unexpected, most other plot points were by the book. Ryan Kelly’s art is great, though, and elevates NY4 beyond its mostly pedestrian story.

The Minx line may be better for fans of manga than for fans of YA fiction. It seems that DC is going for an older reader with stories like NY4 about 18 year olds, and Plain Janes, about older high-school girls. Yet the mostly chaste romances, and the unsurprising stories, make them feel as if they’re more appropriate for much younger girls, say 9 to 12 instead of 12 to 16. Here’s an interesting post on the audience for Minx.

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