Sunday, June 04, 2017

Seconds & Snotgirl

Seconds / Bryan Lee O'Malley
Toronto: Random House Canada, c2014.
322 p.

This is a graphic novel that was on the 2016 Ontario Library Association's Evergreen Award list, and I read it then but never reviewed it. I've just picked it up again for a reread and realized what a great story it is.

I really enjoyed the philosophical underpinning of this tale -- the idea that our life is what it is and do-overs aren't really that helpful -- and enjoyed the fun illustration style as well. 

Katie is head chef at Seconds, a fashionable restaurant. But that's not enough, she wants to start her own restaurant where she'll be owner as well. While she waits, she lives in the tiny apartment upstairs. But Seconds is an old building, and there is a house spirit living there. Lis appears when something goes terribly wrong, and a server is burned. She gives Katie a magic mushroom that will give her a chance at a do-over - in the morning, none of the disaster had happened. 

But Katie gets greedy, wanting her new restaurant to be ready sooner, wanting to get her ex back, wanting, wanting, wanting. And when she finds more mushrooms in the cellar, there's nothing to stop her from eating them and shifting reality every night.

But changing history is not so easy or so result-free. Katie gets more and more tangled in alternative timelines and spirits, until things are a confusing mess. Only when she accepts that her original life is good enough and should be lived as is, do things fix themselves. 

This was a clever, funny, visually interesting and magical story that read quickly. It was entertaining and thought-provoking and just as good on the second read. 

Snotgirl v.1: Green Hair Don't Care / Bryan Lee O'Malley & Leslie Hung
Portland, OR: ImageComics, c2017.

Snotgirl just arrived in my library, and was the incentive for me to pick up Seconds again. Snotgirl is quite different, though with some similiarites, both in drawing style and in the main character as a messed up 20 something with an ex, who gets involved with something perhaps supernatural, and definitely beyond her ken. 

Lottie Person is a fashion blogger, living the glamorous life... until you get to see her off screen. She refers to others, especially other fashion bloggers, by cutesy nicknames, since that's the only way she can remember anyone. Have I mentioned that Lottie is just a little self-absorbed? Her friends are Cutegirl, Normgirl, etc etc. Then she meets Coolgirl, a truly glamorous It Girl who seems interested in her as an inspiration and mentor. But Lottie's allergies and her emotional swings lead to Coolgirl giving her a nickname: Snotgirl. 

With an ex and his new girlfriend in the picture, and an incident with frenemy Coolgirl that Lottie can't quite recall the facts of, she is a mess. When Normgirl has a fancy engagement party, and they all end up in the same place, disaster strikes -- and the volume ends! Can't wait to get my hands on Vol. 2. This volume includes comic books 1-5, as it originated as a monthly comic book series.

This was a lot of fun, with some more touching bits thrown in about Lottie's questions about real life vs. blog life, and the quest for authenticity.

I enjoyed the style of it and thought it captured the modern existence of the lifestyle blogger effectively -- and humorously too. Lottie is a good balance of popular and messed up, not too much of either, and the story has legs. While I don't usually read a lot of graphic novels, I've had fun with both of these this week.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed both of these graphic novels. They sound funny and thoughtful at the same time. Excellent review, Melwyk.

    1. Yes, they are both entertaining and fun but not total fluff.

  2. Snotgirl! Who could resist any kind of book with a title like that? :) It sounds like a lot of fun and even though I don't read a lot of graphic novels I think I might have to read this one.

    1. I know! Kind of an attention getting title. Glad to report that it was also very fun to read, and hope you will give it a try. I'd like to get my hands on the next bit soon.


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