The next book I am going to review is Don’t Stop Believin’: The Unofficial Guide to Glee by Erin Balser and Suzanne Gardner. I won a free copy of this book through the goodreads.com giveaway program.
The kids in McKinley’s high school’s glee club “New Directions” might not be the most popular in school. For every chart-topping song “New Directions” belts out at practice the glee kids are liable to get a slushie tossed in their face by a football player or harassed online by the creme-de-la-creme of the school, one of McKinley’s “Cheerio” cheerleaders. But fictional popularity aside, the television show Glee is unquestionably a runaway hit, and audiences can’t get enough of their story: from the songs to the students, and especially the wacky teachers.
Don’t Stop Believin’: The Unofficial Guide to Glee is for Glee fans who demand more once the curtain falls. From information about the stars, the music, the trivia, and the in-jokes, to analysis of each relationship and fashion choice, Don’t Stop Believin’: The Unofficial Guide to Glee is the go-to guide for all things Glee. The book is thorough enough to satiate even the most dedicated of fans, yet accessible enough that a casual viewer can enjoy it.
Based on the description of this book, I gathered that it would be pages of large glossy pictures with small amounts of text, which made me hesitant to spend ten dollars on the book. The fact that I could sign up to win this book for free, however, was very appealing. The goodreads giveaway allowed me to not have to spend money on what I felt would be a glorified fan magazine, yet still get some Glee gossip to tide me over until the new season premiered.
Upon getting my hands on a copy of the book I was excited to find out my impression was way off. The text-to-picture ratio made me realize my fears of the book being mostly fluff were unfounded. I enjoyed the colored pictures featured in the insert. I found the rest of the pictures were used thoughtfully throughout the book.
Overall the guide was arranged very well. It started off with a background of how Glee came to be. There was great insight into the people who had a hand in the creation of the show. This section was followed by in-depth discussion of a good deal of the main and supporting cast of season one. I was afraid that this information would all just be recycled interviews and quotes with little new information; this was not the case. Although I have read many stories and articles about the cast, I still found much of the information in this section to be new and filled with many interesting facts.
The second half of the book was dedicated to an in-depth discussion of each episode. Each recap featured fourteen categories that were used to discuss the episode. I found that many of these small sections worked well. The summaries were useful in reminding me about some of the details of the episodes without being too long. The “Behind the Music,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “Center Stage” sections provided great information about the various song choices or Broadway references in each episode. I really enjoyed the great Sue Sylvester quotes that ended each recap, as these are often the highlight of an episode.
Two of the recap sections didn’t really work for me. As I had never previously watched Executive Producer Ryan Murphy’s TV show Popular, I had no use for the sections comparing that show and Glee. As a result I found myself skipping over these paragraphs. The “Low Note” section was also one I could have done without. This section felt too judgmental and critical of a show that should not be taken too seriously.
Review: I am not the type of person who would spend money on a unofficial guide to a TV series. The reasonable price of this book–$10 to $14 dollars depending on where you look–would help to change my mind. This book is full of new facts that even avid Glee fans will find interesting. Even the two small subsections I did not enjoy could not take away from my enjoyment of this book