Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

by Kelly Lynn Thomas

I loved Scott Pilgrim. The video game-inspired plot and goofy characters sucked me right in and had me laughing through all six volumes of the comic. The well-rounded supporting cast made the world come to life and reminded me of my own circle of friends.

It’s like O’Malley took all the best things from my childhood and rolled them into one awesomely epic adventure of amazing proportions.

Scott Pilgrim has fallen hard for a mysterious girl named Ramona, but in order to keep dating her, he has to fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends, who have strange superpowers. Scott has to fight his way through them, gaining experience and picking up sometimes useless items to get to the final boss.

There’s just one teeny-tiny problem that marred my reading experience.

I also hated Scott Pilgrim. Scott is a total jerk with few redeeming qualities. Ramona isn’t much better. The preponderance of self-aware jokes fell flat and reeked of cheap laughter.

For example, in both volumes one and two, after something weird or important happens and Scott’s friend Kim asks what happened, he tells her to “read the book.”  It’s funny because you’re reading a book. Except it isn’t.

To top it all off,  one of the supporting characters changed randomly, without warning, in a major way, for no apparent reason in volume six.

The movie, which I saw first, left me with an unequivocal feeling of, “Wow. That was the coolest movie I’ve ever seen.” While I was open to the possibility that I really just haven’t seen that many movies, I was expecting a similar reaction to the comic books.

Instead, as I read, I felt like I had multiple personality disorder. I went from laughing and saying, “Oh my goddess, that’s awesome!” to cringing and saying, “Why, Scott?” and back again in a matter of panels.

I didn’t know what to do, so I kept reading.

In the end, the awesome plot and even more awesome side characters (Kim was my favorite) saved the series for me. The best thing about the books is that Scott is rarely by himself, so there’s always someone else there to focus on.

Scott is a jobless, lazy, clueless jerk, even if inadvertently, and Ramona is a selfish, cold, distant jerk, and she knows it. At the end I did feel like they were starting to change and learn something, but the story ends before any real character improvement happens.

I am always drawn to stories told in new, innovative ways, and the fact that Scott Pilgrim has a fresh narrative perspective and breaks about 20 fiction rules (and does it well) made reading worth my time.

I also loved the manga-inspired artwork, so even if Scott is lame, he’s drawn really cute (as are most of the characters). In places I had trouble differentiating between female characters because they all had the same hair for awhile, but it wasn’t too troublesome and the dialogue usually cleared things up.

It took me between a half hour and an hour to read each volume, so if you like video games and good plots and have a few hours to kill on a weekend, give Scott Pilgrim a try. Just don’t expect to fall in love with Scott Pilgrim himself.

Kelly Lynn Thomas is a writer obsessed with storytelling, tea, and Star Wars. Her day job is newspaper editor, but fiction and travel writing are her first loves. Read more at http://kellylynnthomas.com.

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