Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley: Book Review

Obtained: Random House, ARC
Pages: 323
Publish date: July 15, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

When I heard that the genius who created the Scott Pilgrim series was writing a stand-alone graphic novel, I was really excited. Pilgrim was an enchanting and hilarious series that drew me in further with every page, and personally, I prefer stand-alone works rather than series, so I was hoping this new release would have the same charm and be able to close everything together neatly in one book. I was not let down.

Seconds is a wonderfully relatable tale mixed with the same cheeky comedy and magical elements as Scott Pilgrim, although I think Seconds is a lot more mature as a piece and what it deals with. In this story, Katie wants to leave her old restaurant (“Seconds”) behind and move on to a new restaurant that can be all her own — imagine your own name in lights, where you’re the head chef. The star. But as she’s stuck in her “Seconds” purgatory, where she lives in the upstairs apartment, Katie discovers a mushroom and a notebook that gives her the opportunity to erase a mistake she’s made. But, as anyone would, Katie gets drawn into this power and tries to keep erasing problems to create her perfect life.

This wildly entertaining graphic novel invites the reader to consider which mistakes in their own life they might erase… and what else it would subsequently change. Would it be worth it? Unlike Pilgrim, Seconds deals with more than just a crazed love plot and learning the lesson of self-respect (although it isn’t lacking in love triangles). Katie has to decide between new friends, an old love, new dreams, and old employees.

The characters in this book are well-rounded – an issue I find I come across in a lot of comics or graphic novels. I normally feel like I don’t get a good enough grasp on their personalities because the action takes over. Not in this case. I found myself falling in love with these characters. Katie, her ex Max, employee/friend Hazel, and Lis — that pesky house spirit living in her room.

Seconds is probably my new favourite graphic novel. It deals with more grown-up, real-to-life themes than a lot of other graphic novels I’ve come across that deal with fantasy and action, and O’Malley accomplishes this with the same sprinkle of charm and humour he has done with every book he’s published.


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