Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lost at Sea

"Raleigh is eighteen years old, and she has no idea what she's doing. If you've ever been eighteen, or confused, or both, maybe you should read this book."

Yes, and yes! I really couldn't put it better than that blurb from the back of the book.

During the past few months I have had the immense pleasure of reading O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels. This one is an earlier work, and it is more introspective and packs a hefty emotional punch. It also contains the wonderful humor and quirkiness of the Scott Pilgrim series, but is slightly more grounded in reality.

Raleigh is an eighteen-year-old who is on a car trip with three students from her school. She narrates much of the story, sharing her thoughts and feelings with us, often addressing the reader in the second person. Raleigh has been through some sort of emotionally-charged experience, and she isn't quite ready to talk about it yet. So we get bits and pieces as we travel along on her road trip, and slowly, like a the lens of a camera gradually bringing an image into focus, we begin to understand what has happened. Mostly. I had a few questions at the end, but they were good ones, interesting things to ponder and interpret.

O'Malley skillfully captures that sense of isolation that so many of us feel in our teen years, that feeling of being adrift, of not connecting, of having our lives spread out before us but feeling unable to focus sufficiently to see where we are actually going. Or where we want - or need - to go. The artwork accompanies the text beautifully, alternating from dreamlike to whimsical to poignant.
Many thanks to the reviewers below, all of whom teamed up and made me realize that this was a book I absolutely had to read. They were right (but that's certainly not surprising). I'd especially recommend Lost at Sea to those who aren't so sure about this whole graphic novel thing but are thinking of giving one a try and aren't sure where to start, as well as to those who enjoy a not-so-linear story that is thought provoking, not to mention slightly ambiguous. This would be a great choice for a book discussion group, too, as it leaves readers with much to ponder and discuss.

Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press, 2005)

Also reviewed at:
A Book a Week: "...O'Malley has managed to capture that terrifying, confusing, painful, yet unique, tender, and beautiful feeling of growing up and being somewhere between a kid and an adult."
The Book Zombie: "I think that this book carries such a powerful message, that is, no matter how confused or lost we may feel, odds are that the people around us are feeling the same way."
Stuff as Dreams Are Made On: "Of course we all know that we’re not alone in the world, but that’s easy to forget sometimes. When someone else can capture an experience that’s universal, yet so personal like this, it can really make a difference"
Things Mean a Lot: "Lost at Sea is such a lovely book. It’s tender, sad in a quiet sort of way, and occasionally very funny."

16 comments:

  1. That panels with Raleigh on the bed was one of my favourites :) I'm glad you loved the book, Darla! And I HAVE to read Scott Pilgrim.

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  2. I want to read this soooo much - ever since I saw Nymeth's review of it. And my library doesn't have it, and I tried to get my bookshop to order it, and they lost the order and then I reordered and they never called me back, and when I finally called to check on it, they were like, Yeah, we had that, but we sold it. Did we not call? Whoops.

    Grrrrrrr.

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  3. Yaaay! I'm so glad you liked this one, Darla. Reading your review makes me want to go back and read my copy again.

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  4. Nymeth - I also loved all the scenes with the cats - and the way the others were so willing and nonchalant about getting up in the middle of the night to look for the cats. So sweet, and what a revelation for Raleigh! I will be very interested to hear your thoughts about Scott Pilgrim - it's quite different, but it still has the same quirky sweetness and humor.

    Btw I started listening to the audiobook of The Wee Free Men with my daughters (how fun to share it with them!). Last night when I sent them up to get ready for bed before they were ready, I heard one of them cry, "Wailey wailey wailey!" as she went up the stairs. Thought you'd get a giggle. :-)

    Jenny - My library didn't have it either, and I ended up requesting it through interlibrary loan. A library in Michigan sent it here to VA so I could read it! Although I loved it so much, I'll probably buy a copy to keep. Hope you can find it soon!

    Kiirstin - I really loved it! I can see it is a book that would be fun to read over and over. I really have to get my own copy now!

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  5. I don't read a whole lot of these books, but this one has me intrigued...thanks for another great review.

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  6. Serena - I hope you'll give this one a try. It's so different from most graphic novels that it's hard to describe, but I think you'd find it appealing!

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  7. Oh just love these illustrations. The flying bed reminds me of Little Nemo...

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  8. Ladytink - I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it, it reminds me of Little Nemo, too! :-)

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  9. I really enjoyed this! I must read more by him!

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  10. Kailana - It looks like I've read all his books at this point. :-( More would be nice!

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  11. For those who can't find it at the library, try to get it at a comic shop. They'll likely be able to get it quicker for you. And while you're there, check out Gray Horses, Salamander Dreams and Chiggers by Hope Larson who is Bryan Lee O'Malley's wife, and kind of a kindred spirit for lovely tales of young adulthood.

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  12. Girl Detective - I saw Chiggers at my library, and it looked good, but I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. I will try to get to it soon - thanks for the recommendation, and for the others as well. I had no idea she was his wife! Interesting.

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  13. This looks like a really lovely book. I must read the Scott Pilgrim books as well at some point. Argh so much to read!

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  14. Rhinoa - I just know you will adore this one. It's quite different from the Scott Pilgrim ones, although it is just as quirky and unusual. I hope you'll get to it soon!

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  15. So glad to hear you enjoyed this one! It really was wonderful in every way. The Scott Pilgrim's are next up on my must-read-soon list :)

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  16. Joanne - I'll be very interested to hear what you think of them. I'm anxiously awaiting the next (and final, I think) volume.

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