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Tuesday, April 10, 2018




Bryan Lee O’Malley
Ballantine Books (2014)
ISBN 978-0345529374
Available Now

If you know Scott Pilgrim, you've been introduced to Bryan Lee O’Malley, however, when someone recommended Seconds to me, I was curious. In many ways, this standalone comic is a stunning, complex, and contemporary graphic novel that is woven with great storytelling and a graphic style that appeals to a wide range of readers.

Katie Clay, the main character is a chef who runs a hip and popular restaurant. Her vision is to open another restaurant with a new vision, a new idea, and a new start. She feels like she is in limbo as she looks forward but feels trapped in her current life. When she sulks in her bedroom, one night, she finds a strange and foreboding box in her dresser. She opens the box and finds a kit for undoing her bad decisions. Step one: write down your error in the little notebook. Step two: eat a mysterious red mushroom.  Step Three: go to sleep and when you wake up, your life is changed. Sounds simple. Katie is a successful professional, but not the most mature, friendly, kind person. While most of the time, her missteps and regrets are minor, she begins to think that the box in her dresser can change all that. Before things get too far out of hand, she meets the “house spirit” who warns her that she should not be meddling her past as it will certainly have grave impacts. This graphic novel even breaks the fourth wall, in a playful, innovative vision of storytelling. The art work, retains O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim style, but it is enhanced in some unique and focused storytelling areas. Described as a manga-style, it is the artistic vision of this comic that makes it different, compelling, and better than some of the other time altering stories. It is about an empowered woman who wants to change parts of her life and win her vision of her life, but with it comes the sacrifice of those specific changes.

The good news, this is not Ground Hog Day, in fact, O’Malley is much more innovative and fresh with the idea of possessing god-like powers to undo mistakes. Katie is well crafted artistically and narratively in that she would appeal to a teenager or an adult equally. While the character is illustrated in an O’Malley style that makes her seem young, she has the life and sass of an adult. Pushing the character to cover that much space allows more people to identify with the protagonist. Katie sometimes feels like a bossy seventeen year-old, but she also has the responsibility and the vision of her adult self. This is an older graphic novel (2014), but it is worth the review. This is a graphic novel that will draw you in. You will want to finish it in one sitting, even though you know you should slow down and savor it a bit. There are a lot of different elements to like here, colorful and dynamic artwork, compelling storytelling, and a time-shifting story that is innovative and fun to read.