Before Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley wrote a stand-alone graphic novel about a girl who believes her soul’s been taken by a cat. It’s a coming-of-age story for Raleigh, a recent Vancouver high-school graduate on a road trip in California with three school peers she barely knows.
As far as coming-of-age stories are concerned, I tend to love the Spielberg-esque child to teen variation and despise the overly-angsty teen/twenty-something to adult variation. This definitely leans towards the latter, and there’s no denying that it has its fair share of angst, but it is a book about a teenager, so a certain amount of embarrassing navel-gazing and taking oneself way too seriously is expected and somewhat excusable.
I’m not particularly fond of moody teenagers, and I’d rather not read something that puts me in the head of one, but what saves this is the clever writing and humour. It’s a quiet, character-driven story, and O’Malley paces it quite well. The art and humour and very reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim but a lot mellower. The writing is genuinely funny in parts, whether the occassional one-off comment or entire scene (such as the search for the cat), and even the navel-gazing had a stream-of-consciousness feeling that I found interesting, like Kerouac as a straight-laced, slightly whiny, teenaged girl writing in her weblog.
It’s not for everyone, but I quite enjoyed it.