Last Level Press

Graphic Novel Review: Seconds

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

When I first heard about this book, I was excited because I had no idea what to expect. I loved Scott Pilgrim, I loved Lost At Sea, and I was hopeful that Seconds would be another story I would love. And sure enough, I was blown away. I woke up early to ensure I got this and, much to my delight, I was able to grab one of the first copies off the shelf at my local comic store. And I highly suggest you go grab a copy as well because this is a story about choices, mistakes, and a young woman wanting perfection at the cost of everything around her. And it all revolves around a restaurant named Seconds.

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s art continues to be a real pleasure to look at as it has the thicker lines of typical Western illustrations, the more Eastern inspired expressions in how characters emote and react, and that simple yet dynamic character design that brought O’Malley adoration from critics and fans alike. Notably, this is the first story of his where its initial release was not only colored but also hardcover. However, this is also the first story where O’Malley had assistance from quite a few others to make Seconds the colorful delight it is. Nathan Fairbairn, a Vancouver based colorist, has helped O’Malley with the colored editions of Scott Pilgrim and continues to contribute his wonderful talents to bring vibrancy to O’Malley’s stories. With lettering done by Dustin Harbin, a cartoonist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jason Fischer, a cartoonist based in Portland who drew all the amazing food in the story as well as inked the backgrounds, the world of Seconds truly comes to life and is a real splendor to behold.

If the somewhat wonky storytelling of Lost At Sea or the more straightforward Scott Pilgrim series just wasn’t cutting it for ya, a story where the main character, Katie, will talk to herself when she’s talking to the narrator might be for you. Granted, much of the story isn’t told like this, but there are some pretty funny moments when you get Katie correcting the narrator, especially when her corrections also double as denial in the beginning. Outside of these little moments of breaking the fourth wall, the story proceeds as you would traditionally expect: main character experiences the story as the narrator tells it. However, the nature of the story itself is something else, as it involves the magical element of fixing mistakes due to a particular ritual by a peculiar spirit since there will be many revisions that change the story until it finally becomes more scary than whimsical.

The characters are, for the most part, a fun collection of people all working at Seconds. Katie, the main character and the only original member of the initial kitchen staff, is determined to open her own restaurant rather than have its success bank on her skill as was the case for Seconds and feels a sense of confusion and dread since all of her friends have moved on with their lives while she struggles to do her own thing. Hazel, the meek and quietest of the wait staff, is considered weird by the others due to her propensity to constantly stay after closing to clean the restaurant and conduct her own strange rituals taught by her grandmother. Then there’s Andrew, Katie’s successor as head chef and occasional make-out partner, Max, who was Katie’s ex-boyfriend, and then there’s Lis, the strange and inhuman spirit who gave Katie the ability to redo her mistake… and whose powers were abused. There are other characters with names and even one who is nameless, but these are the major players for the story and with Katie in the center they’ve got a lot to deal with.

Seconds is incredibly fun. From its first page to its last, it was impossible for me to put down. It has its funny moments, its relatable experiences as O’Malley’s work will often have, it has some darker moments near the end, and it all wraps up nicely with a moral that is both important to know as a reader as well as making fun of the character for learning it how she did. While the book isn’t a laugh out loud experience, it’s still pretty funny with most of its situational humor. One joke that did make me laugh was an incredibly brief callback to Scott Pilgrim (one that will make readers groan or giggle).

Being an adorable, touching, and fantastic story, Seconds is everything I had hoped for, and leaves me wanting to read it again... you could even say that I want seconds! (Okay, sorry, I’ll stop). In all seriousness, Seconds was well worth the wait and delay. If you can, grab this book at your local comic store; you can even get the Barnes & Noble edition if you have some aversion to the color red on your shelf and instead prefer yellow. Or you could be all fancy, and get the downloadable version to save trees. Whatever O’Malley decides to make next, I can only hope it contains the same charm that continues to make me enjoy his work.

Rating: 8.0

Artwork: 9
Narrative: 7
Characters: 7
Entertainment Value: 9
Experience: 8

   Author: Bryan Lee O’Malley

  Illustrator: Bryan Lee O’Malley

  Publisher: Ballantine Books

  Release Date: July 15, 2014

Final Verdict:


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