Rating: 3 Stars
I soooooo wanted this one to be good. I was kind of disappointed, might as well be straight-up about it. I have been so spoiled by some of the other Buffy-related books that have come out over the last few months in honor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer turning twenty. This show meant EVERYTHING to me when I was in high school and college, and still does today, over a decade after it has gone off the air. I can not wait to be able to show it to my own daughter (except for very specific parts of season six, which was devastating).
This one though, left me very underwhelmed. I think part of it is because I already know so many of these facts. Maybe I don't have them organized in neat little pictures in my head, but for as OBSESSED with this show as I was (am), it would be pretty hard for me (or any Super Fan) to NOT know them. For the casual or non-fan, some of these will probably seem really picky and unimportant. But my expectations are suuuuuper high for content related to the show. There were some places that were not necessarily mistakes, but things that seemed odd or out of place. Other times there were actual mistakes that had no business in an authorized book about this show. I don't even really know the best way to do this and I was going to try to not do as many reviews for books that I did not enjoy, but this is Buffy we are talking about. These omissions and/or mistakes, I can not abide.
On page 12 there is a very basic map of Sunnydale. Angel's mansion is listed as being on Market Street. Sorry, but it was on Crawford Street. This is stated on the show. And while we are at it, the map shows Buffy's house being super close to City Hall, which is weird because it makes them look just down the block from one another. No aerial shots indicate Buffy lived near downtown, which is where one presumes City Hall would be. AND, how is The Bronze near the edge of Sunnydale when Cordelia makes the statement in the series premier about the good and bad parts of town? These are not just any old locations. With the exception of City Hall, these places play a pretty major role throughout the series. Seems like a little more thought should have gone into it.
On page 32-33 we get an infograph about Xander. It is all pretty accurate, though I think leaving Angel off of Xander's 'Hate' list is an omission I would not have made. I get that Spike was on the show much longer than Angel, but Xander definitely deeply hated Angel also. Perhaps 'Vampires with souls' would be more correct? Or simply Angel AND Spike? This is much more a personal preference than a mistake, so it doesn't REALLY count.
Page 34 and 35 give further information about Xander, in a line graph plotted to rank Xander's slightly embarrassing to very horrible 'trials and tribulations' as the subtitle calls them. Xander definitely had more than his fair share of shitty things happening to him, but there are a couple rankings in particular that trouble me. The first is 'Being dumped by Faith after losing his virginity to her.' He wasn't dumped, they didn't date. I would say the bigger embarrassment for him would have been the later conversation with Buffy and Willow, where Buffy breaks it to him as gently as possible that she doesn't really take the guys seriously that she hooks up with. And to me that would rank as both embarrassing AND terrible. Maybe this would have been better as a Venn Diagram than a line graph. On the same graph, 'Discovering Anya with Spike' is also ranked as 'slightly horrible' which makes no sense to me. For one, Xander still loved Anya even though they were no longer together, he was an adult at that point and not some high school kid, and this was a really awful thing to stumble upon. I'd easily give that a 'horrible' or at least a 'fairly horrible'.
On page 68-69 we do get an actual Venn Diagram, which displays the shows 'Saddest Moments'. Sad here is defined as: 1. feeling or showing sorrow, 2. Pathetic, uncool, or awkward (I would not equate that kind of sad with awkward, but whatevs), 3. Xander, according to Cordelia. This was the point where the Angel/Spike bias became most apparent. I appreciate that Buffy's killing of Angel was considered 'weepy', but then the authors also include Buffy telling Spike she loves him just as he's about to die on this side. I could buy that, despite my huge disdain for the Buffy/Spike debacle, had they not then put Angel being jealous of Spike's soul on the awkward side. What about that is awkward? Why would Angel NOT be upset? Yes, they were not together and had not been for a long time, but come on, soulmates, hello. (Don't come to me with info from the comics. Buffy and Spike do not belong together.)
One page 104 and 105 we get an infograph on Darla and Dru. The timeline where the two are connected is in 1880, where it says on Darla's timeline that she 'Sires Spike'. On Dru's it says for the same year 'Sires Spike (then known as William Pratt). Joss clarified the use of the word 'sire', because of when Spike was first introduced in 'School Hard'. There he referred to Angel saying, "You were my sire man, you were my Yoda." Angelus obviously did not turn Spike, Dru did. But Joss stated that 'sire' could refer to vampire lineage, which does make sense. This aspect of the timeline though, does not and actually makes it look confusing. Spike himself said to Angel, "Drusilla sired me, but you, you made me a monster." So, the referring to Angel as his sire also makes sense when used in the 'mentor/Yoda' sense. But Darla? It simply does not, except to go back to the lineage where Darla → Angelus → Drusilla → Spike. The next two pages are then a handy infograph titled 'Who Sired Whom' which shows that exact line. Still, it is not a choice I would have made.
A lot of people really seem to like this one so far, and that's good for them. Maybe I am being nit-picky, I don't know. This one just was not for me, though there were also some pretty cool infographs. I especially liked the "Big Bad Lineup", "Magical Artifacts" (including details on what the weapon did, where it was found, and what happened to it), AND "The Web" which connected a myriad of characters with the helpful color-coded key of unreciprocated interest, reciprocal interest, relationship, and kill. Might seem odd to include kill on a web about love, but I will simply refer you to Angel's voice-over from season two's episode 'Passion'. I do question the inclusion of Larry on the list as having unreciprocated interest in Xander. He talked about being out to Xander in season three's 'Earshot' when the gang were trying to figure out who Buffy had heard threatening to kill people at school. He offered to help Xander 'come out' when he thought that is what Xander was talking about but I never interpreted that as hitting on him. Perhaps my favorite infograph of all though was the one titled "I'm Only Sleeping: All The Times Giles Is Knocked Unconscious".
So, I guess I would say I would recommend this one with caution if you are like me and any of the above issues bothered you to the extent that they bothered me. If you spent this whole time saying, "Slow down, Crazy. This stuff is not a big deal", then have it!