Thursday, 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 emotional...baggage...so 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)

Also reviewed at:
A Book a Week: "It's silly, fun, and clever, and highly recommended for anyone who likes video games, ninja delivery girls, Toronto Public Library, sarcasm, and/or comedic love triangles. Also good art and crappy bands."
Painted Smiles; Written Words: "If you’re not convinced by now that you should be reading Scott Pilgrim, you probably don’t have a soul. So take it from me and treat yourself to Scott Pilgrim. It’s like a soap opera on crack cocaine."

11 comments:

  1. Have you read the night stalker series?? I am finishing up the Gardella series and looking for something else.

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  2. I'm really glad you liked it, Darla! I like that the dialogue and relationships ring so true, despite the fact that the world (though somewhat like ours) is tipped 90 degrees on the reality plane. And I'm glad someone else found it funny too!

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  3. You always find the most interesting things! Sounds like it would be a good read and I hope the movie adaptation is done well!

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  4. The only times when I don't immediately add something to my wishlist after reading your posts are when you review something that's already there :P This definitely sounds like something I'd love.

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  5. VA Gal - it is on my list, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I think I have #1 out from the library, but sadly it's already been renewed a couple times and I may end up taking it back before I get to it. You'll have to let me know what you think when you read it!

    Kiirsten - I really did like it, and I'm so glad you reviewed it! I'd never even heard of it before. So thanks!

    Ladytink - I hope so too. I still haven't seen Watchmen, but I've heard good things about it. And I loved Coraline, so I have high hopes for this film. :-)

    Nymeth - I think Kiirsten got both of us for this one!

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  6. I really should give Scott Pilgrim a go. I have read several other books from this company and have rarely been disappointed.

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  7. Carl - I'd be curious to hear what you think of the series. Oni Press really does some great titles, including the Courtney Crumrin ones I've been enjoying so much lately.

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  8. Glad you liked it--I've been a Scott Pilgrim fan since the get go, and am impatient for the last book of the series. It's got a sweet goofy vibe all its own.

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  9. Girl Detective - I don't know how I missed this, but I guess in a way it's good that I now have almost all of them to read right away! :-) I started #2 yesterday, and it's a lot of fun so far - especially the flashbacks.

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  10. The Courtney Crumrin's are great. As are the Blue Monday series. A bit juvenile with the sexual banter, but very fun nonetheless.

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  11. Carl - I hadn't heard of the Blue Monday series - I'll be on the lookout for that one when I finish with these. I sure wish I could read books on my list faster than I add to it...

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