Tuesday 8 February 2011

Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley

 So, a while ago, I watched a little film called Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and fell in love.. resultingly, I just had to read the books that the film originated from, and thus my discovery was complete.
'Lost at Sea' is the standalone book which precedes the Scott Pilgrim novels in release date. If they weren't graphic, I guess you would call O'Malley's stories magic realism, for their casual acceptance of impossible things - Ramona's ability to get from A to B via the use of magical doors only she can find, Raleigh's belief that a cat has stolen her soul... However, Lost at Sea is much more abstract than the Scott Pilgrim series. It also felt to me, much less complete in itself. Having said that, this didn't make it a bad novel, in fact I (somewhat predictably) loved it.
O'Malley continues to surprise me with how real his characters are, and how much he can build them up, and make you empathise with them. Initially, I thought that this was because the Scott Pilgrim series, being 6 books long, allowed him the space to do that, and admittedly, there is a lot more back story involved, but Lost at Sea was a standalone novel, and it still had completely 3D characters. Really a story was only given to Raleigh, but that was ok, because the story is really only about her. And I totally loved her by the end.
As an aside, I'd just like to mention that this novel took me about an hour to read. The illustrative technique is absolutely brilliant - just really stark and simple, in black and white with thick lines, it makes it impossible to step away from the book for even a minute.
The illustration is a reflection of the story of the novel: about a girl called Raleigh who believes that she has no soul, on a road trip from 'visiting her dad' in California, back home to Canada, with three kids from school she doesn't know too well. The storyline and characters are all very simple, and O'Malley has the genius of being able to make his readers unquestioningly accept the viability of whatever he chooses to put in a story.
Raleigh starts off the book coming across like a bit of an outsider, and slightly out of this world, and throughout the course of the tale, she become included, accepted, and even finds a best friend for the first time in years. Really, Lost at Sea is a coming of age story - showing first love, friendship, and self discovery, and the graphic format just gives it that extra tinge of awesome.
The only thing that annoyed me is that you never find out what's in the letter! (Read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about!!)
I read this for the Graphic Novel Challenge (and because my amazing fiance bought it randomly..), and I'm really glad I did! So far, I'm totally loving the books I've been reading for this challenge!

Rating :*****


  1. I'm not a big graphic novel fan, but this does sound interesting.

    I would like to read all of the Orange winners too, and all of the shortlists. I actually bought a set of all the 2010 books from the book people for about £15 but have only read The Lacuna and Wolf Hall so far. The Lacuna was amazing but Wolf Hall was a bit blah.

  2. A lot of people have had that response to Wolf Hall. I have a lot of Hilary Mantel's books,but only read Beyond Black,which I loved.. Eventually i'll read some more and actually have a proper basis for judgement!