If you were presented with the opportunity to have a do-over in life, would you take it? How about multiple do-overs? And what would the intended and unintended consequences of such a decision be?
Bryan Lee O’Malley delves into those questions in his latest graphic novel Seconds. On the verge of entering her third decade, Katie is on the brink of great professional success as a chef for her own restaurant. Oh sure, she’s got a few regrets like the ex-boyfriend she still has feelings for, the affair she’s carrying on with the new chef at her old restaurant and that she unwittingly caused injury to one of the servers at her old restaurant. But then Katie discovers a box with a notepad, a mushroom and a written set of instructions in it. Katie has to write down her regret, eat the mushroom and go to sleep. In the morning, she’ll find everything changed.
Katie experiments with undoing the injury to her co-worker. And while the house spirit says it’s only wish per person, Katie soon finds where the mushrooms are growing and sets about putting right every wrong decision she’s made in her life.
It’s not helped by the fact that Katie is a bit selfish and that many of her wishes involve her wanting to have her cake and eat it too. But while the world changes around Katie, she has no memory of the events leading up to the change, which causes some confusion and heart-ache for her and those in her life. Even a simple thing like trying to undo a huge potential bill for her new restaurant ends up having consequences that Katie couldn’t or wouldn’t foresee.
O’Malley’s follow-up to the Scott Pilgrim series is a fascinating, thought-provoking piece that asks a lot of interesting questions and doesn’t shy away from not giving us easy answers. O’Malley makes Katie likeable in some moments, but unlikeable in others as she makes wish after wish and doesn’t think about the consequences — or as she tries to avoid consequences for her poorly made decisions. The artwork in the book is rich and colorful and the book foreshadows the eventual resolution well both in the story and the art.
If there’s one drawback to the book, it’s that Seconds doesn’t fully stick the landing. The ending is good, but after the build up of two-hundred or so pages, it still felt a bit rushed or that O’Malley wasn’t quite sure exactly if and how Katie’s story should end.