I have just finished reading the popular graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim. On Monday I saw the trailer for the upcoming film version being released later this summer. It was 30 seconds of pure magic—I had to read these books. I rushed over to Barnes and Noble immediately after watching the trail to purchase the first three volumes. I came to regret that decision.
The Scott Pilgrim series promised so much. SP is a loser- 23 years old, no job, and recently started dating a 17 year old high school student. Yeah. Shortly after the start of this relationship, SP meets the girl of his dreams—literally. Ramona Flowers first appears to him in a dream before running into him in the real world. Things start rocky for the two, but they eventually start dating after Scott dumps his jailbait girlfriend. Ramona lets him in on a major secret; if they are to continue dating, Scott will have to defeat each of her seven evil-exes in combat. Fortunately for our hero, he’s already recognized as on of the best fighters around.
The premise actually sounds really interesting to me. It’s very cute, and works well with serialized graphic fiction. But there were some major problems I had in the novels:
1. Very disjointed narrative: it seemed that whole sections of the novel were missing. I realize this is common with graphic novels, but usually you can pick up the missing details through what’s happening. Not so much the case with SP. When you can do it, the author just beats you over the head with “you missed this- deal.”
2. “My super awesome gay roommate”” Scott Pilgrim’s roommate, Wallace, is gay, and yes, he is super awesome. I, however, don’t need to be reminded of this every time his roommate says or does something. It really seemed as if that’s the only part of Wallace’s being that matters. Message: if you’re gay, that’s the only part of your being you’re allowed to identify with and show.
3. The contradictory moralism: I get that this is YA, I get that it’s Canadian lit, but I don’t need to be reminded every 50 pages or so about how evil smoking is. Also, if you’re taking that moral stance against smoking, why is drinking so heavily condoned?
That being said, I still read on. I was really interested. I hated volumes one and two, and begrudgingly read volume three just because I already had it. Something happened in book three. The holes in the narrative grew smaller, Wallace became less reductive, and smoking was no longer evil—just bad for you. By the end of the volume, I was sold. I rushed again to BN to buy the remaining two volumes that are out. Finally, there was substance in the novel. The characters became fuller, the story more complex, and the writing significantly better.
All in all, I don’t know if I can fully recommend Scott Pilgrim. If you have a few free hours to read some crappy, underdeveloped, nonsense, then go ahead. I don’t know if the quality of novels four and five make up for the shit that was 1-2.
I still really want to see the movie though. Looks fucking sweet.