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 mI 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 these romantic ideas about traveling across the country in a Greyhound and meeting his friend at the Empire State Building, just like in Sleepless in Seattle. He has a website, but soon learns that he’s completely behind the times in terms of web design; he doesn’t know how to work a cell phone. He thinks he needs a passport to fly in a plane. He chooses to send his friend a letter confessing his love to her, rather than call her or, even, email her. He lives with his mom, and his job is binding books at the public library. He lives in a world that is still very tactile and concerned with experiencing all sensations of being alive in the world. He’s very much a romantic and idealist, where his friend is more of an intellectual and an academic, sarcastic and dry.
For me, “Empire State” is absolutely a love story for Oakland, for home. I’m a sucker for those. There really is no place like home, whether it’s the Bay Area, New York or the desert. Read this one through twice. ...more
I'm not even sure I can give this stars because it defies a starred rating system. What I do know: it's post-apocalyptic but completely and absolutelyI'm not even sure I can give this stars because it defies a starred rating system. What I do know: it's post-apocalyptic but completely and absolutely removed from the world we know. The world is strange and disorienting and unfamiliar, and we spend the entirety of this volume knowing as much as John Prophet, who wakes up at the beginning of the novel and follows a voice or urge within himself on a journey through this desolate and shit-filled landscape (literally). Everything he sees for the first time, we see for the first time as well. At least once per chapter, I found myself audibly saying, "WHAT?" or "What the hell is THAT?" or "What the hell is going ON?" I'm still not sure I know 100% of what's happening here, but I'm okay with that.
What I love about this as well is the full realization of this wholly strange and new world. The world feels ancient and futuristic at the same time, and I sense that the author has completely imagined the history of and a future for this universe. In my version of the book, there are artist sketches at the back of some of the different creatures and structures that appear throughout the book, and some have parts that are labeled. I love to observe artistic process, and it looks like some of these completely unfamiliar structures and creatures are comprised of very familiar pieces. I appreciate that the artist took such familiar things (such as Pomeranians) and transformed them into unrecognizable creations of this other world.
Even if the post-apocalypse/graphic novels/sci-fi/completely bizarre isn't for you, at least give this one a shot. It's weird, but I kind of love it. ...more