Lost, adrift a sea of information
- Story and Art by Brian Lee O’Malley
- Published by Oni Press
18 and Life
Raleigh is a girl with no soul. At least she thinks she has no soul. Suddenly finding herself on an unexpected road trip back to her home in Vancouver, she takes a journey of the spirit as well. As the trip and her memories unfold for the reader, we learn that she is soul-less—or, at the very least, soul-lost. As she travels with classmates that are practically strangers, we are treated to snippets of her life and how she has become the person she is today. We learn of her past and the loss of her once best friend. We learn of her present, and her quest to find love in another country. And most importantly, we learn that she has lost her soul. It’s in a cat.
I won’t give away the whys or hows; suffice it to say, I’ve heard more ridiculous claims in real life. As Raleigh searches for her soul, she begins to bond with her classmates and they lend her a hand in her quest.
Some purrfect writing
So, if you are looking for comic book battles and a hundred pop culture and video game references, look elsewhere. This is not Scott Pilgrim. This is a slice-of-life story with a some supernatural elements interwoven. Though it is from a young girl’s perspective, I feel that many people can relate to the protagonist. Maybe not the part about the losing your soul and having it placed into a cat, but the feeling of being adrift in life with no real direction. The overwhelming pressure of everyday life, of meeting strangers, of journeying into the unknown.
The story is told through a combination of text from a letter written to her love interest, scenes from her car trip home with her schoolmates-turned-friends, and flashbacks to other parts of her life. At times, the dialogue gets crammed into each of the panels, while other pages have none. The characters are well portrayed as youthful and carefree. Even though it was published in the early 2000’s, the dialogue holds up and doesn’t seem dated, which is important for any story about young adults.
I don’t want to compare this book to Scott Pilgrim all review. So I won’t. The art is simplified, while retaining the necessary facial expressions. Some of the body language falls flat, but for a large portion of the story, they are sitting in a car or at a restaurant. The backgrounds are varied, from the sparse, open road to a cluttered diner.
The panels are pretty standard, though there are a few flashback scenes that break convention and use background elements to separate the scenes. I wish more scenes like these were included, as they add a nice variety to an otherwise unremarkable layout. The story is black and white, with screen tone. The line work is varied and organic. Even the text looks to be handwritten, which gives it a natural feel.
You’ve got to be kitten me!
Swearing! Lots of it. Teenagers love to swear. There is also the whole metaphysical discussion of the transference of souls into cats and what not, but mostly it is harmless. In all, it is harmless.
The Final Word
Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.
Lost at Sea is a nice slice-of-life story with an element of the supernatural thrown in. There is no extra content, which is mildly disappointing, but I’m not sure Oni Press does extras in its trades. It is relatively cheap, and the size of a regular book, making it a portable read for those of you that commute. If you are a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s other works (that shall not be named), pick it up. Just don’t expect robots battles or a lesbian ninja.