By Christine Marie Vinciquarra
Most of you probably know Bryan Lee O'Malley from a series he wrote between 2004-2010 called Scott Pilgrim. It was a vastly popular set of six graphic novels that told the tale of a part time musician who falls in love with a girl named Ramona Flowers. But there's a catch. In order to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil exes. I personally loved the series. I found it to be funny, emotional, and clever. Bryan Lee O'Malley's art style was unique and imaginative.
You could imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the cover of Seconds while walking up and down the aisles of Barnes & Noble, as I often do. I was blissfully unaware that O'Malley was releasing another graphic novel, and jumped for joy when I realized that he had. When I opened the cover and realized that the whole thing was published in color, I had to buy it. I didn't even read what it was about because I knew it would be great.
Luckily, I was right. From the moment I sat down to read Seconds, I was completely captivated. It's not often that I encounter a story I love so much, that I need to put it down halfway through so I can savor it. It might sound weird, but knowing that it was a one shot kind of deal (unless there's a sequel brewing that I'm unaware of) made me want to cherish every page. Plus, you really can't beat O'Malley's playful drawings. Each page is strategically laid out to maximize the effect of his vibrant art style.
Seconds follows the story of a 29 year old talented chef named Katie who dreams of opening her own restaurant, but struggles to handle the difficult path it takes to achieve that dream. One night, she is visited by a house spirit that gives her a magical mushroom and notebook. It states that she can write a mistake in the notebook, eat the mushroom, and then start a new day as if the mistake never happened. Now, she's only supposed to do this once, but when she finds a plethora of mushrooms underneath the floor everything gets wacky. She begins to take advantage of the magical mushrooms and a lot of interesting things begin to happen, some good and some very bad.
I think what's brilliant about this story is that it addresses something that we have all thought about at one time in our lives. What would we do if we could go back in time and erase a mistake that we made? If we could successfully do that, what else would change? Surely things would fall into place in an entirely different way, and that might not always be a good thing. Taking a sassy character like Katie and giving her freedom to change events in her life was extremely clever on O'Malley's part. I found myself continually surprised by her character and the decisions she was making with the mushrooms. I almost wanted to yell, "No! Don't do that!" at the pages while I read. It created a very interactive internal experience for me as a reader.
I became attached to Katie's character in a much deeper way because I could see her trying to make the best out of this really cool opportunity, even though I knew it wasn't going to work out the way she wanted. But trust me, this story is far from predictable. O'Malley takes things in a spiritual direction that will make you question yourself as a person. At least I did. The story has a bit of a fantasy element to it because of the house spirits involvement in the plot. Of course this is something I enjoy because I am a huge fan of all things fantastical, but it also focuses on very realistic relationships and real life obstacles.
If you're a fan of the Scott Pilgrim series you absolutely must pick this book up. There are a few nods to the classic series that I won't spoil here. If you're not a fan of the Scott Pilgrim series, what's wrong with you? Just kidding…or am I? Seconds is an original, creative read, full of ups and downs. I dare you to read it without thinking about what you would do with your life if you were given a second chance. Hopefully we will see more from Bryan Lee O'Malley in the near future.
Seconds from Ballantine Books is written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
Christine Marie Vinciquarra is a writer and bibliomaniac with a love for all things creative. Some of her favorite things include: Batgirl, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Saga, Game of Thrones (the books and the show), Johnny Depp, and all things Disney. She spends her weekends feeding her competitive side while she plays tabletop and/or video games with her husband and friends. She is currently working on a series of young adult fantasy novels. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.