Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I've been a little behind in posting book reviews this last month, mostly because I have been preoccupied with the launch of my own! The launch of my second YA novel - Swimmers - was held at the Lethbridge Chapters a few weeks ago, and I was so happy with how it went. I've been reading a ton in between, including finally tackling Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series just in time for the premiere of the TV adaptation. As a result, I have a huge backlog of books waiting to be reviewed and posted here. 

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley is one such book. I read it at the same time that I devoured This One Summer and Through the Woods - at least a month and a half ago. I unintentionally picked up the three graphic novels at the same time, which is coincidental because they are all written and illustrated by Canadian artists. Although they were all on my to-read list, I hadn't had a chance to pick them up until I was in Calgary near the beginning of July, where they were displayed together. I've been a fan of Bryan Lee O'Malley since Lost At Sea, and his popular Scott Pilgrim series (and the subsequent movie adaptation) made Seconds a much anticipated book.

Seconds follows a young chef named Katie, who is fresh off the success of her first restaurant "Seconds." It's about to exchange hands, freeing Katie up to start another restaurant, the location of which is currently under renovation. Katie lives above "Seconds," an attic-like loft that is haunted by a house spirit. Late one night Katie has a run-in with the spirit, and is given the recipe for an easy do-over of her past mistakes:
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
Katie uses her "do-over" to reverse an event that happened at the restaurant, where one of the waitresses was burned in the kitchen. Suddenly, it's as if it didn't even happen, and Katie begins planning other do-overs in an attempt to make her life more and more perfect. Including getting back her ex-boyfriend. And picking a new location for the restaurant. And setting her future on another path. 

Seconds feels like a YA novel at times, or at least it has one foot firmly planted in new adult literature. I read once that if young adult literature is about firsts - first love, first job, first experiences - than new adult literature is about seconds. That literary category certainly fits Seconds, a book that's all about Katie trying until she gets her life right. The secondary characters are also a strong component of the book, especially 21-year-old waitress Hazel, who has the best style ever for an illustrated character. Hazel also knows quite a lot about house sprites, and helps Katie when she becomes lost in her do-overs. 

Seconds was a great way to round out a trio of amazing Canadian graphic novels this summer. Katie reminded me of a female Scott Pilgrim at times, although her story is definitely her own. 

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