Monday, 17 August 2015

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Virtually every graphic novel you see me review on this blog was probably loaned to me by my friend Melissa, and this one is no exception. It was one I was looking to read eventually, but got bumped up the list by the fact that it, along with Saga Vol. 4, was handed to me as I was leaving gaming one night.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim books, so I was pretty sure I wanted to read what else Bryan Lee O'Malley had done. I was not disappointed. There's a lot here, underneath the fun drawings, and fascinating house spirits, and quirky characters. The last of which is pretty much what O'Malley is known for.

Like Scott Pilgrim, this is about a young person teetering on the edge of growing up, but leery of taking on too much responsibility for her own shit. She wants control of the world, while pushing away deep thought about what she's done to get herself where she's gotten. She's older than Scott Pilgrim, but has some of the same desire for an easy way out.

Katie was the chef at a restaurant that she was a partner in. She still lives upstairs, and schmoozes the customers, and bothers the wait staff and the new chef while she works on opening a new restaurant, one that will solve all her problems. Seconds wasn't perfect? The new one will be.

Of course, it's not. The contractor is taking longer and needing more money than she really has. And isn't following your dream to have everything exactly your own way supposed to be easy?

After an accident at the restaurant involving a new server, Katie wakes up to find a house spirit sitting on her chest of drawers. Inside a drawer, she finds a mushroom and a small notebook that instructs her to write down what happened on the premises that she wants changed, and to eat the mushroom. She does, and the accident is erased.

That's supposed to be the end of it, according to the house spirit. One mushroom, one change. But Katie gets greedy. If she could make an accident not happen, why couldn't she alter all the things that irritate her in her life? She finds a patch of mushrooms, and starts making changes. Love life, business life, surely it's as easy as making one change and everything will be easier! Of course, it isn't, and things unravel as she becomes more desperate to make everything easy, even when it starts to mean she has to squish herself down on things she truly does want.

The characters are enjoyable, and I particularly liked Katie talking back to the narrator - mostly when the narrator is telling us about any misgivings Katie might be having, and Katie fervently denying there are any such feelings.

Likewise, the mythology of the house spirit, and what it is that Katie's now letting in to the house with repeated mushroom usage, and the way she's using the people around her, using them as puzzle pieces in creating her perfect life. In the end, the message is fairly simple - you need to grow up and look beyond yourself. And accept imperfection.  

This was a lot of fun, and the colour added to this book really made it pop. It was enjoyable to see what life after Scott Pilgrim looks like.

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