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Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)
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Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  1,266 ratings  ·  237 reviews
Jimmy is a stereotypical geek who works at the library in Oakland, California, and is trapped in his own torpidity. Sara is his best friend, but she wants to get a life (translation: an apartment in Brooklyn and a publishing internship). When Sara moves to New York City, Jimmy is rattled. Then lonely. Then desperate. He screws up his courage, writes Sara a letter about his ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Harry N. Abrams
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Seth Hahne
Empire State by Jason Shiga

I suffer from a perhaps strange inability to watch Ben Stiller movies. It's not so much Ben Stiller himself that I find unwatchable. He's perfectly capable of entertaining me or playing a role that I can enjoy. The affecting issue seems to be more with the type of character for which he is usually cast. Awkward characters. Men with little ability to suss out their social environment in a facile manner. Reality Bites. Meet the Parents. That sort of thing. Films that stock and trade on Stiller's a
...more
Sesana
I wonder: do you have to be able to identify with Jimmy's clueless, Nice Guy pursuit of a girl who really does just want to be friends with him to truly enjoy this book? It just made me sad. Not for Jimmy, but for Sara, who thought she had a friend in Jimmy.
Jess Newman
Sep 10, 2013 Jess Newman rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who enjoyed "Blankets" by Craig Thompson
Have you ever wanted to experience an Indie "mumblecore" romance film in graphic novel form?
Good news! This is the graphic novel for you. It features introverted, nebbish-y protagonists, a low-stakes story with an unsatisfying resolution, and an empty feeling of entropy all throughout.
Do you want to know more?
The story focuses on Jimmy, an Asian college grad who works at a public library in his hometown of Oakland, California. He has no idea what to do with his life. He programs html (poorly)
...more
christa
Jason is a young employee of the public library in Oakland, a real whiz with the process of wrapping Mylar around the books. He has never left the city and has dinner with his parents once a week. He doesn't have a bank account, rather signs his checks over to his mom and receives an allowance.

And he thinks he might have it bad for his friend Sara, who moves to Brooklyn to pursue the literary life among the hipsters. She did, afterall, introduce him to the different sorts of coffee drinks a per
...more
Abby
May 11, 2011 Abby rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: comix
3.5 stars. My crush on Jason Shiga continues. This one was more melancholy and reflective than his other works, which are more like elaborate puzzles than graphic novels. Unrequited love story of two slacker 20-something friends living on opposite coasts -- total Adrian Tomine territory, I know, but Shiga's love story (or not) struck me as much more sincere and painfully real (and funny). If you've ever done something incredibly impulsive and poorly thought out because of a crush that's way out ...more
paula
I bet that nobody that meets Jason Shiga doesn't like Jason Shiga. He just comes off as a sweet guy, a math geek working as a page in the Oakland Public Library, who is also a comics and puzzle savant. Empire State is his first full-length adult graphic novel, a little story about a naive 25-year-old Asian guy who works as a page at the Oakland Public Library. In the story, Jimmy is sort of secretly in love with his best friend Sara. When Sara moves to New York City to work in publishing and des ...more
Wendy
I forgot to mention that the part where he's showing a real web programmer his website, and he said he coded it all in Notepad....lol funny... but only to people who realize the ridiculousness of that. He wants to be a designer, but has the education and ability of a 7th grader.

cute story of a not worldly-wise 25 yr. old from Oakland traveling to New York.

Some GN's tend to end in a silly way, but this one actually wraps up pretty well.
Kristen
Although I love the melancholy tone and the alternating timeline was interesting, I found myself rolling my eyes at most of the humor.
Cute but easily forgettable.
Brandy
Meh. Shiga's artwork is appealing, even if the story isn't.
Jessica at Book Sake
The one thing a graphic novel needs to do is be immersive. To be immersive you need to be able to easily explain concepts and ideas through pictures. When all else fails, you can use words to get more complex ideas across. This book did neither.

I’ll start by saying I really like the look of the artwork. It was pleasing to the eye and had enough personality to be endearing. The story was a basic boy meets girl, etc.

However, for as simple as the story and art was, I was utterly confused. First off
...more
Erin
So it took me the first half of Jason Shiga’s Empire State: A Love Story (or not) to work out the split chronology. Had I been more sensitive to the (in retrospect) obvious division of time (divided not just by plot events but by colour) I might have enjoyed the book the whole way through. As it is, I found the first half to be closer to pretensious and annoying than endearing or charming. But by the time our protagonist arrives in New York I cared about him and wanted his love plot to resolve i ...more
Tony
I picked this up mainly because the cover design and a three-second flip-through of the interior appealed to me. Unfortunately, once I read it, I discovered it to be a fairly run-of-the mill quasi-autobiographical but of post-college angst. The story is about Jimmy, an Asian-American living in Oakland who works a a technician/clerk for the Oakland Public Library (full disclosure, I work for a city public library system as well). When his one close friend (and sometime crush), Sara, moves to New ...more
Claire
This was aight. I think I've just read this story a million times in comics form - nice, nerdy art guy likes his sarcastic nerdy, arty female friend, but she doesn't like him baaaaaackkkk wah.
Edward Cheer
A very simplistically drawn and written coming-of-age "almost romance" story in California and New York. I didn't mind it, other than the fact that the worlds of these two places weren't well-built. They just didn't seem like real places, so the "change in perspective" the protagonist at the end seems unrealistic (Unlike "60 Days or Less"). I didn't mind the character (on the contrary, I liked quite a few of them) and the art got me at times... at other times it looked like rubbish. Like Shiga w ...more
lucy by the sea
I liked this a lot. The drawings of buidings are amazing and make me want to sit in a big city and draw all the sconces and finials and windows and windows and windows. The story is sweet and unfolds at just the right pace. The drawings of the people pot me off a bit at first cos they kindof look like fisher price little people but I got over it.
Christine
The story was ok. I think if I was in my 20 somethings, I would get more out of the story. The artwork was good and I liked Shiga's use of color. I am intrigued by graphic novels and I will continue to explore the genre. I love the balance of art and text. Just wish they weren't so darn expensive.
Lindsey
Quick and easy lunchtime read.

I loved the color blocking throughout this book. I also liked how the author used different timelines going back and forth to delve into Jimmy's simple life and grasping for adulthood.

The story itself is sad in a way, but I think that's only because we can probably all relate to the idea of trying to do what we think we are supposed to be doing. In Jimmy's case, it is about love.

I found it interesting that Jimmy is 25. I always consider 25 to be the age when we ge
...more
MariNaomi
Jason Shiga has done it again! A great, funny read that even got me a little choked up. This book will most likely appeal to a broader audience than his others, which is good. More people should be exposed to Shiga!
Sam Quixote
Loved it - really well told and put together comic book about growing up and unrequited love. Full review here!
Andrea Marley
The boy character is awfully naive. The girl character is awfully mean. Young love? I don't know, I'm starting to lose interest in depressing graphic novels.
Meghan
A love story (or not) about a library page and his hopeless crush on a friend who moves to New York.
Zeny May Dy Recidoro
This turned out pretty well. I wasn't expecting much to begin with, and although this wasn't as immersive or "sublime" as "Ghost World" (the only other graphic novel of the same genre and employs, more or less, the same trope, I've read thus far), it was able to hold me into its narrative and "inner world". I was able to identify with Jimmy as much as I was with Sara (publishing house internship, wanting to get a life, big city, odd dates etc). It kind of left me hanging, but in a good way, and ...more
John
Not a bad graphic novel for Jason Shiga, and I appreciate that unlike his other comics there's no particular "gimmick," but I think the minimalist storytelling in this book works against it. I was hoping for a bigger picture, some more complicated concept behind Jimmy going to New York. And again, as with a lot of media, expectations can make or break anything. It's a nice little story but not as ambitious or surprising as Shiga's other work. Still great use of layout and color and the art is cl ...more
Ogo
The book concept was great but I did not like the fact that it felt that Jimmy (one of the main characters) were jumping from place to place and it made me confused on how was where and why they were there in the first place. I really wish the writing was a little bit more detailed and explained more about the characters because in all truth I did not care what the characters were doing. There was just no connection so overall the book was okay but the writing style just did not click in my head ...more
Adriana
Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) is a wonderfully reflective comic that makes good use of color blocking to transition between the past and the present, introduces the audience to a realistically naive protagonist, and leaves the reader wondering when exactly the younger generation becomes adults.

Visually, this graphic novel is engaging; it contains experimental paneling while making use of white space, the different color schemes accurately reflect distinct moods and time periods throughout
...more
Raina
Jason Shiga's people are not traditionally beautiful. Which is nice. For once. For once, we read a love story featuring people who don't look like they sprouted from a magazine ad. Love for the normals. Whatever.

This is the story of a library worker (loved the detailed explanation of "Mylaring" books) who lives with his mother, and his (view spoiler) relationship with a good friend who moves to New York. And his subsequent bus ride to meet her, aspiring to traditio
...more
Jason
I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, because I ended up loving everything about it. I think it's a perfect example of the "show don't tell" rule in writing. It's obvious early on how Jimmy feels about Sara, but it's shown subtly through his actions. Jimmy's naivete (and his general overwhelmed feeling towards adult life) is also revealed this way: he travels to New York by bus, because he thinks he needs a passport to get on a plane. When Sara sarcastically tells him she's never ...more
Scruffy
Empire State is a coming of age story about a guy named Jimmy who has led a very sheltered life. When his best friend Sara leaves to live in New York Jimmy decides to take a cross country road trip to tell her that he loves her, an idea he got from watching romantic comedies.

Jimmy is a very sweet and likeable character because he is so naïve. He has never left his home state so his view of the world mostly comes from TV shows and movies. It’s both funny and sad watching him confess that he doesn
...more
Rachel
I read this twice and loved it more after my second read. The art is simple and the story is simple. There isn’t a real “climax” to the story -- the main character tries to create one, but it is completely deflated.

What I really loved about this book is that it’s less a story about a boy who follows a girl who is his friend to New York in an attempt to confess his love for her. It’s more about a guy who’s trying to love somewhere other than home. The character has never left Oakland and has all
...more
David Stewart
Empire State is unique, as far as graphic novels go, not so much in tone or story, but because it does some interesting, if simple, things with color.

The story is about a 25 year old Asian guy named Jimmy living in Oakland. He has prospects of becoming a web designer of sorts, but seems stuck in a life not suited for such ambitious pursuits. He's actually very easy to relate to because the entire story has a post-college lull feel to it that has become so common in the post-college generation. H
...more
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Jason Shiga is an award-winning Asian American cartoonist from Oakland, California. Mr. Shiga's comics are known for their intricate, often "interactive" plots and occasionally random, unexpected violence. A mathematics major from the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Shiga shares his love of logic and problem solving with his readers through puzzles, mysteries and unconventional narrative ...more
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