by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Hardcover, 323 pg.
Ballantine Books, 2014
Read: August 14 – 15, 2015
This is a story about Katie — a pretty successful young chef, with a personal life in shambles (are there any chefs in fiction whose extra-kitchen life aren’t in shambles?), on the verge of opening her second restaurant while handing over the reins of her first. She’s been given a gift — from a source she doesn’t understand — to undo the events of one day, to rewrite history — just one, there are rules. After one not-that-terrible-but-certainly-regrettable day, she decides to use it.
Katie’s as surprised as the next guy when it works (assuming, of course, the next guy isn’t in a work of fiction). And she finds a way to break the rules. And does fixes another bad day, and another, and another and soon she’s like the guys in Richard Curtis’ (IMHO underrated) About Time, tweaking and massaging the details of the past to make her present perfect.
However, like I said, there are rules. And we all know what happens when you break the rules concerning magic. Or time travel (ask Marty McFly how things were going for him during The Enchantment Under The Sea dance). Now, actually, I thought emotionally and character-wise were richer and more interesting before the wheels come off Katie’s machinations, but it’s here where things start to count.
If I was a better judge of visual art, I’d have the vocabulary to express this next point. So apologies for that, if I’m confusing here — well, that’s what comment boxes are for. I’m not knocking in any way, the penciling here (or in other works) when I think of O’Malley’s people as cartoon-y, like children (occasionally very adult looking children) doing very non-childlike things. To me, the artwork here in O’Malley’s signature style, isn’t a fit the way it was with Scott Pilgrim. There’s a darkness to the story, a flavor to it that seems at odds with the art. Which makes the art more effective — these are twisted forces that should happen to people that look like they were drawn by Lan Medina or Peter Gross, not the fun and innocent-ish looking characters we meet in these pages. It’s more jarring, unnatural, in O’Malley’s hands.
Very entertaining, a good follow-up to his magnum opus — a different direction, feel, and populated by people with a different set of issues. Did I heart this as much as Scott Pilgrim? No. Because it’s not the kind of story I prefer. Is there anything wrong with it? No. It’s just it didn’t strike the same chord with me, mostly because O’Malley was going for a different chord. Worth your time.