Fair warning… This review is scathing, and it makes me feel bad to have written it, but it’s also very true and needed to be said. With that mentioned…
To paraphrase a seminal comedy of our time, Billy Madison, “Nowhere in this book’s incessant rambling and incoherent nonsense does it even come close to forming an intelligent thought. I am now dumber for having read it.”
Truly, Dragonball Z: An Unauthorized Guide should never be read, by anybody, including DBZ fans. I don’t even know where to begin with this book other than to say that it consists of over 200 pages of random observations, incorrect assumptions, little to no facts… and insights from a 10 year old.
This book was written by a mother and son team. Unfortunately the 10 year old appears to be the more intelligent of the two, and his comments are few and far between. I would have preferred if the whole book were written by him. Seriously, I cannot believe that this book was ever published. It’s like a bad blog post gone wild with stream of consciousness and then multiplied exponentially.
At this point I should mention that I am a hardcore Dragonball fan. I’m writing my own book about DBZ, you know? So when I read a book like this it makes me want to cry, throw the book into the opposite corner of the room, and then cry some more. Yet fate of fates has assigned me with the task of reading the whole thing so I could write this review. Bear that perspective in mind.
What’s so bad about it? For starters, it’s completely random and chaotic. The so-called chapters diverge from their own subject material so many times that even the author questions why we should listen to her anymore?
“You can’t pay attention to me, by the way, when I’m sitting here, making fun of Yamcha’s fork cuts. After all, why listen to me? I’m a grown woman who eats pizza for dinner every night and who talks to stuffed pigs when I think nobody’s around.”
Indeed Lois, indeed. And nowhere in the rest of the book does she give us reason to think otherwise. Sadly, this isn’t coming from a comedically inclined prologue or introduction; this is in Chapter 4, the main focus of the book.
Sometimes when children say unintelligent things it comes off as ‘Honest’, and “Innocent’, and it makes you gaze inside at your adult perspective cruelly honed over years of real world life and cause you to shockingly look at things with fresh eyes, dropping your preconceived notions. Bill Cosby created an entire series of television shows built on this premise. Unfortunately this book does not fall into that category, because when Danny’s comments, such as “This may be better than Pokemon, there is more action.” are used it feels like they’re solely so that Lois can somehow apply it to a random aspect of her life, which is only tangentially related to Dragonball or the quote, if at all. And her musings, while definitely unintelligent, are bereft of the benefits of simplicity often applied to such a lacking.
What about the actual content of the book, is it DBZ related? Yes, sort of, I’ll give it that. It does discuss each of the main characters, the basic plots, and why the Dragon World is entertaining and captivating: All of these things are expressed. But if you’re not familiar with Dragonball on an ‘all too familiar basis’ to begin with, you’ll be completely lost by the end of the first chapter. The book doesn’t explain anything particularly well.
The character analyses are one dimensional, looking at them as either “Good Guys vs. Scum and Filth”, and the descriptions of each are shallow and not even worth the time it takes to read the words. You can type any DBZ characters name into a search engine, pick the first link, and find out more about the character in a few seconds then you’d find in this entire book. Honestly, I just did it, and it worked.
The one saving grace is that this book provides a unique perspective that you don’t find in most others. The ‘mother and son duo’ that are actively interested in Dragonball and were so enamored by it they took the time to write an entire book. That’s not something easy to do, and not something you hear about on a daily basis, for this subject or anime in general. On that particular front I give them my respect.
But if you can base your whole approval of a book on the fact that it was merely written, I’d say you either need to go a bit deeper or prepare yourself to read every book in existence, because that’s the only way I could ever recommend Dragonball Z: An Unauthorized Guide.
DBZ Book Information:
By Lois and Danny Gresh
Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Amazon Link: Dragonball Z: An Unauthorized Guide