I picked up A Second Chance At Sarah for two reasons. First, the art by Joysuke Wong is extraordinary. I tend to choose my books like I choose my wines; cover art matters. Mind you, that almost always doesn’t work in my favor (with the wine anyway). To further justify my pull was the book’s author, Neil Druckmann, writer of the most talked about video game in 2013, The Last of Us. Heck, it was so good they re-released the game earlier this summer. One of the highlights touched on by reviewers and gamers alike? The amazing story.
A Second Chance At Sarah is an amazingly beautiful, modern-day fairy tale about second chances and the complexities that come with them. When Johnny’s love, Sarah, is near death, he makes the ultimate gamble by swearing he can change his beloved’s fate with a single second chance. Through the course of the story, it is evident that Johnny’s second chance is nothing like the first go around. Johnny’s burden is reliving new moments with Marty McFly clairvoyance. (There’s even a reference. Point: Druckmann!) He knows what happens should he fail, and, thus, the stakes are that much higher.
Neil’s video game background serves him well in this new medium. Although character complexity is a bit lacking, the story moves fluidly and plot points that might prove daunting in information are easy to understand and retain. It sounds cliché to say, but each chapter could suffice as a cut scene in a video game, if they ever made one. (Kickstarter anyone?)
Neil can’t take all the credit. Joysuke’s artwork is stunning. I found myself switching my comic book reading “approach” a page at time, following story and then immediately pausing to take in the art before reading on. The coloring and character concepts closely circle the style of Vertigo’s Fables cover art or any storybook for that matter. Perhaps that’s why this book seems so much like a fairy tale to me; the art reflects the magic contained in each of its pages. And, there is magic, though of what kind I leave for you to discover.
A Second Chance at Sarah has expansive readership potential. At first read, this story feels better in the hands of teenage readers. Its references and character voices speak to a younger crowd. Plus, the story is really clean and easy to follow. But, the subject matter of death, loss, and regret transcends any age group, and oft are the musings of those who have lived a little more life.
With all fairy tales, there is something to take away upon completion. The gift bestowed by A Second Chance is realizing that, on our plane of existence, we don’t have second chances, but in reminding ourselves every day, we can shape our lives to never want them at all.