March 12, 2009

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

This one is entirely Kiirsten's fault. Her excellent review of the first two volumes in this graphic novel series completely won me over. She described the books as possessing that quirky combination of humor and oddness and compelling characters that never fails to entice me. And she was absolutely right.

Scott Pilgrim is an unprepossessing kind of guy. He's twenty-three years old, is dating a high school girl (in an odd kind of platonic way), plays in a bad band, is unemployed, and even though he seems like a total slacker loser, comes off as sweet and funny and manages to grab the reader's sympathy in spite of himself. He shares an apartment with Wallace, who is gay and boy crazy and always has a funny, caustic remark at the ready.

When Scott has vivid dreams about a pretty Rollerblading girl, and then actually runs into her in real life at a party, he becomes obsessed with her. He learns that her name is Ramona Flowers, she is American, and she works as a delivery girl for Amazon in Toronto, where the story is set. Scott's initial encounter with her doesn't go too well, since he's still reeling about the fact that he's seen her in his dreams. He hatches a plan to see her again (a plan that involves ordering merchandise from Amazon and paying for it with Wallace's credit card), and this time things go a bit better. She admits that she's been using Scott's head as a shortcut when delivering packages: "It's just, like, this really convenient subspace highway happens to go through your head, it's like three miles in fifteen seconds," Ramona tells him. Of course he falls in love with her, but little does he know that Ramona happens to come with a some to speak.

This was such a fun story. I found the characters to be quirky and engaging, and the dialogue rang true and kept me laughing as I read. The characters' relationships were believable and realistically portrayed, as with, for example, Scott and his little sister Stacey. She calls him up in the middle of the night after Wallace tells her about Scott dating the teenager. Their phone conversation perfectly captures the mixture of bafflement, affection and concern a little sister would feel towards a beloved but exasperating brother in such a situation.

I won't reveal any surprises, but let me say that the final scenes of the story are unexpected and hilarious. This is a delightful, intelligent, refreshing read, and I am very much looking forward to the continuation of Scott's story in the next volume of this series. The book classifies itself as "T" for teen, ages 13 and up. My library shelves these in the adult section, though, probably because while (at least in this volume) there is no graphic sexual imagery, there are some fairly adult themes. To date there are five volumes, the most recent of which was released just last month, and there is also a film in the works, which should apparently be released some time in 2009.

Books in the Scott Pilgrim series:
1. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
3. Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness
4. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (#1 in the Scott Pilgrim series) by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press, 2004)

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