Over the weekend I’ve been reading all 6 volumes of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels:
1. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
3. Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
4. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe
6. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
These are my husband’s books which he nagged me to read because.. heh, I didn’t want to watch the movie without reading them first, and he’s been dying to watch the movie.
The series is about Scott Pilgrim, a 20-something slacker, living in Toronto, Canada. He falls for a mysterious American girl, Ramona Flowers and has to defeat her seven evil exes in order to continue dating her (this is neither her idea or Scott’s. It seems to be something concocted by the League of Evil Exes).
1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
I was a little concerned in reading Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life that I would ultimately be rather annoyed by this series, because I thought that Scott was a big fool. I mean, he’s got the adorably clueless thing going on, but he’s twenty-three and he’s dating a seventeen year old innocent who is still in high school (Knives Chau). And then he sees another girl (Ramona), and becomes obsessed with her, but continues to date Knives, who is falling in love with him. Even though he’s not blatantly malicious, he sure is incredibly oblivious. Luckily, he is the only one, and everyone around him has more sense. Part of the humor comes from Scott’s doe-eyed blundering and inability to take care of himself while his friends watch him with exasperation.
The story is full of video game and some music references (Scott is both in a band and plays a lot of video games), with lots of odd, off the wall going-ons thrown in. There’s little hints throughout the story that there’s a reason for some of the oddness, but it’s hard to say. I wasn’t sure if I was just missing some video game reference, or if this was a story clue, but these hints actually do go somewhere (you have to wait for later volumes to find out).
2 & 3: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
These two volumes have Scott fighting the second and third evil exes, and also shed a lot of light on Scott’s dating past, including a past relationship with Kim Pine, who is now the drummer in his band, Sex Bob-omb. There’s also some fallout from his dating two girls at once. I liked his roommate Wallace because he’s the one to tell Scott he has to break up with Knives if he wants to date Ramona. In fact, Wallace is my favorite character – what a friend, he pays for EVERYTHING for Scott – he’s practically a surrogate parent. I think that in these two books, there are the seeds for some growth in the characters, including Knives. My husband thinks that Knives gets annoying in these two books, but although I thought she went a little uh, strange, I felt rather sorry for her despite not quite connecting with how she acted. My favorite book in the whole series ended up being volume 3 – Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness, because it focused on his most recent ex, Envy Adams. There’s something about their bad breakup and the aftermath for Scott that was strangely compelling, and I liked how things got resolved when she returned to his life.
4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
This is the Scott Grows Up volume. The previous books kind of got Scott to the point where he’s willing to be more than a moocher, and he also begins to move forward in the relationship with Ramona. This is also the book where we get a significant clue about Ramona’s recent Big Ex. He’s been mentioned before (she even names her cat, Gideon after him), but this hint moves the story towards the climax.
5 & 6: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe and Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
These last two volumes are where Scott fights the last three exes (two of which are twins, and the last is, like video games the final Boss he has to defeat). It’s also where Ramona’s breakup with Gideon and this whole league of evil exes and all the odd things to do with Ramona are explained. Things sort of fall apart, there’s introspection, then things come to a head.
I don’t know how I feel about the ending. Sigh. To tell you the truth, it got a little too weird for me, and the weirdness seemed rather… I don’t know, it took a metaphor a little too far and it ended up feeling like it was weird to be weird. I don’t think I really got it. And just about everyone in Scott’s world – all his friends, had big life changes. The wrap up jarred me, even if it happened over two or three volumes. I’m not really sure why, but I felt somewhat dissatisfied by how everything played out. When I compare the books to the movie, I missed some of the details that were in the book but not in the movie (and I missed the storylines from volume 3 in particular), but I preferred how the movie ended because it didn’t have the metaphysical weirdness of the book or the bittersweetness I suppose.
Overall: I enjoyed reading it. It has geek humor and I liked the interactions between Scott and his friends and I could identify with the twenty-somethings hanging out and living their lives, although I suppose I was a lot more focused than this group is. But there was something that didn’t work, and I haven’t put my finger on it, but I just wasn’t satisfied by the way these books ended. I think maybe it was the use of unreality mixed in with the relationships. I just didn’t connect with the concept. I don’t want this issue to dissuade others from reading these graphic novels though because they were otherwise quirky and charming.