bestof2015-1

Every day between now and Christmas morning, we’ll share the twenty-five stories that engaged, enchanted, amused and amazed us the most in 2014. If you missed them, now’s your chance to catch up; if you’re looking for a gift for the wonk in your life, then these are our most enthusiastic recommendations!

Today, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel Seconds.

It’s difficult to talk about Seconds without immediately referencing Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s break-out hit. There are some stylistic similarities, of course — the same punky, expressive character design, the same idiosyncratic dialogue — but the real reason that comparisons come so easily is that Seconds feels like a continuation of the same authorial perspective, the same insight. While Scott Pilgrim wrestles with questions of identity and self-awareness, Seconds winds the clock forward a couple of years, and asks, “Well, now you’ve survived the crisis of adolescence, what next? Now you’ve learned that there are consequences for your actions, how do you get what you want?”

Seconds walks a fine line between navel-gazing character study and unfettered magical realism, but manages to avoid both potential fates by focusing on vibrant, flawed characters. The protagonist, Katie, is everything you could want from a heroine — and has an entirely charming habit of arguing with the third-person caption narrator — and she’s surrounded by a cast who are, while fairly subtle by comparison, warmly fascinating.

The eventual fall-out of Katie’s impulsive decision to rewrite the past may become a little tangled, and the final emotional beat may lose some resonance because of a lack of clarity, but Seconds is magical realism at its most human and thought-provoking.

Buy it now: Seconds: A Graphic Novel