Page 45 Review by Stephen
Wickedly crafty, the extent of Shiga's ingenuity will only begin to become clear during chapter four, and then it will blow your brains out. Which is apposite enough.
Up until then, you're going to have trust him.
Fortunately I do, for the inventive mathematician of comicbook creators responsible for EMPIRE STATE and MEANWHILE is meticulous with detail, known neither for imprecision nor for being random. He is a logic-driven puzzle-maker and a puzzle-solver, and here he invites you to solve the following puzzle before his protagonist does.
I too will be methodical in removing one word and adding another from the situation so as to retain the sequence of events as I originally perceived it.
Jimmy Yee is in a modest motel room. With much consideration, he writes a suicide note and hangs himself.
He wakes up in bed, perplexed. Some time has passed but not much. The suicide note on the motel stationery is gone, as is the rope he hung himself from. He's been given a second chance, but is determined to kill himself. So he writes another suicide note, draws a bath and slits his wrists with a razor blade.
Jimmy Yee wakes up in bed. Yup, that painting above it is still there but the room's a little messier. Some time has passed but not much. He's been given a third chance, but he is still determined to kill himself. Fortunately a gun has now materialised beside the obligatory Bible in his bedside drawer. He writes another note, repairs to the bathroom, wraps the gun in a towel, sits on the bath which is free from blood and water, and shoots himself in the mouth. His skull explodes.
This time Jimmy Yee wakes up in the bath and there have been repercussions. The tiles have been shattered by the gunshot and the bullet is lodged there at the fracture's epicentre. He necks a bottle of pills and passes out on the bathroom floor.
"Enough already!" he screams when he wakes up in bed. He hastily scribbles another note and goes to the bathroom whose tiles remain fractured but this time there's his corpse in the middle of the floor. There's only one thing for it: he throws himself directly into the path of an oncoming juggernaut.
Lucky to wake up at all, he does so next - understandably - in hospital. He has a concussion but little else. He receives a visit from his daughter, but it totally confounds for him three precise reasons I will not explain. He acts with a degree of suspicious hostility which we, the reader, do not comprehend.
We have only just begun.
Once Jimmy Yee finally works out what's been happening to him, he begins to calculate the potential his predicament provides, how to make the most use of it and how to successfully access its means of execution.
Unfortunately he's not the only one who knows what he's doing. The Office of Strategic Services is on his case.
The subtle body language best exemplified in EMPIRE STATE is back in full evidence. Love the defensive hunched shoulders. But what Shiga has done with the visuals here - once the proverbial penny has dropped - will have you in even more awe.
This is my best poker face, yes.
Please note: although the majority of FirstSecond books these days seems aimed squarely at the Young Reader or Young Adult market, this, emphatically, is not, and there will be some very awkward conversations around the kitchen table should you mistakenly buy DEMON for young ones you dote on.