Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review -- Seconds

Today we have Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel follow-up to the insanely awesome Scott Pilgrim series: Seconds. Is it as good? Let's find out.

The story follows aspiring restaurateur Katie Clay who already has one successful restaurant called Seconds under her belt. She isn't stopping there, though; she's planning on going solo for her next venture (Seconds basically belongs to the investors who funded it and she wants a place to call her own). But, of course, things don't go quite the way she wants. Her ex-boyfriend Max drops back into her life and she doesn't know how to deal with it. Also, one of her employees named Hazel gets injured on the job, causing Katie quite a bit of stress. And, finally, she finds her decision to hook up with the head chef to be a mistake because they were making out while Hazel got hot oil on her arms.

But just as things seem somewhat bleak, a mysterious girl named Lis appears in her bedroom and hints at a way to change things. Katie then finds a mysterious kit in her dresser with the following instructions:

  1. "Write your mistake"
  2. "Ingest one mushroom"
  3. "Go to sleep"
  4. "Wake anew"
So she writes her mistake ("I shouldn't of fooled around with Andrew! Workplace canoodling is NO GOOD!") on the included notepad and eats the included mushroom. She then wakes up the next morning to find her make-out sessions with Andrew never happened, therefore Hazel never got injured. Everything's good, right? But, Katie thinks to herself, what if she were to keep performing the ritual and making things better and better? With that philosophy in mind, any time something bad happens, she changes history to fix it.

But this pisses off Lis who insists you only get one chance at changing the past. Katie says to hell with that, though; she wants to get her life perfect. So again and again she eats the mushrooms, fixing every mistake she makes. However, for each mistake she fixes, a new one pops up, kinda like a whack-a-mole game. Not only that, she finds reality is getting increasingly distorted the more she does this. And all the while, a growing in the basement of Seconds, becoming stronger with each change to history. Katie will ultimately discover the shocking truth about what she's actually been doing.

Seconds continues O'Malley's cute cartooney art style we saw in Scott Pilgrim and Lost at Sea. I would say the tone of the story is somewhere between those two. We get the fantastical elements of Scott Pilgrim and the adult language of Lost at Sea, so it's a nice median. Seconds is a stand-alone story like Lost at Sea, so we don't have the multiple volumes like Scott Pilgrim. Still, at 323 pages, it certainly doesn't feel short. You get a full-length story that's well worth the hardcover price. 

In terms of the narrative itself, O'Malley continues the theme of his previous works of struggling to make your way in the world as a young adult, so, mostly, it doesn't break new ground, and this time-travel story is one we've seen before in other series'. However, the final revelation really nails it. You'll end up feeling sympathy for something that didn't seem pitiable at first.

Bottom line: Seconds is another home run by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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