Thursday, 23 October 2014

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley Review

Seconds is a successful restaurant, thanks in large part to Katie’s cooking and dedication – but she doesn’t own the place. So she’s been scrimping and saving to buy her own restaurant, move out of Seconds, and live happily ever after. Except there are delays in the renovation of the dump she bought with her business partner. Oh, and the house spirit of Seconds has issues with Katie. 

Katie dreams about a strange girl crouching atop her cabinet and, after a disastrous night in the kitchen, she looks inside to find a notebook and a mushroom. If she writes down a wish in the notebook, eats the mushroom, and goes to sleep, when she awakens the wish will have come true. So begins a brilliant “be careful what you wish for” type story. 

It’s been four years since the final Scott Pilgrim, though Seconds is more of a sequel to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s first book, Lost At Sea. Both feature protagonists searching for something they had all along. It’s also less fantastical than Scott Pilgrim, though, from the setup alone, you can tell O’Malley hasn’t left magical realism behind. 

While Katie is written as this master chef, O’Malley doesn’t dwell on that aspect too long and so the food element to the character doesn’t seem convincing. But what O’Malley does know is relationships and the heart of the book is Katie’s attempts to get her ex-boyfriend, Max, back. The snappy, smart ‘n’ sassy dialogue is one of O’Malley’s strengths and everyone here (all under 30 of course) sounds very real. Katie also interacts with the omniscient narrator which is an ingenious touch from the author and something I’ve never seen before in a comic. 

This is also O’Malley’s first book that’s been published in full colour (though the Scott Pilgrim books have been recently re-released in full colour hardbacks) and, if you’re unfamiliar with his style, the art is strongly anime-influenced. In fact, a lot of the art is done in the chibi-style. And though that might make the art seem overly cutesy and cartoony, you’ll be blown away with how affecting O’Malley can make his characters appear, especially as chibis! 

Seconds is a slightly more mature book than O’Malley’s previous publications, though it’s full of the author’s usual wit and humour. The kind of story it is, and its message of trying to fix things in the present to make things better in the future, rather than wishing to change the past, isn’t original; but O’Malley’s treatment of them in Seconds is. His writing and art is top notch throughout and Seconds is an absolute joy to read. I loved Seconds and recommend it to anyone who enjoys quality, fun comics!


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