A Book Review: Supervillain: The Concise Guide
Author: Ras Ashcroft
If you're interested in Supervillains, this might be a book for you. Written in a non-fiction style, this satire is an interesting methodology on how to go from rags to riches… as a villain.
Ashcroft admits, right at the opening, that this is a parody of self-help guides on Finance. It fits this category, making very obvious jabs at how-to guides and self-help books.
In general, the book was well written, handling the line between fiction, non-fiction, and satire with adept ease. While some reviewers found this book hilarious, I found it to be subtle. Almost too subtle. The first 40 pages or so I found genuinely interesting, particularly in terms of the creativity in which Ashcroft builds a fictional supervillain empire. After that, however, it delves deeper into the expected cliches and rehashes what most people already know about being the ideal evil overlord.
In short, it went to the far-fetched and unbelievable at around the same time the book looks toward space as a viable method of taking over Earth.
The approach for this book I cannot fault. It does a good job of mocking many of the self-help books (on finance) that I've browsed out of curiosity. However, I do think that it stayed a little too much on the side of safety, using practical methods to become a villain without delving too dangerously into ‘evil', such as it were. (The obvious fantasy of domination towards the end of the book excluded.)
To boil this book down a bit, ‘Common Sense Prevails' is the golden rule. If it breaks the law, avoid it or cover your tracks and work in cash only.
I'd talk about characters and themes, but this book doesn't really have anything of that sort. It is a down-to-earth guide on a method to become a supervillain. Would it work? Honestly, I don't think so. I wish this book had more hard humor, cracks at heroes and villains, and otherwise not take itself too seriously. While it is obviously satire, I don't think it was edgy enough or funny enough. It was just too close of a parody without that edge that I normally love in parodies.
There wasn't nearly enough of the sharks with lasers, acid pits, spike traps, and maintaining a fortress of doom that I was really, really hoping for. Even if it was a step-by-step guide on why not to do these things as a viable supervillain. Ashcroft covered a little bit of it, but not nearly enough to satisfy my thirst for that sort of thing.
Yes, I was disappointed in the fact that there wasn't a single guide on building a doomsday device of awesomeness or a torture mechanism just for superheroes. The solutions Ashcroft presented were just too based on reality and too reasonable.
I'm being completely unreasonable about this point, but being an evil overlord or super villain should be fun.
That said, I think it is worth the amusement value at the price of $0.99, especially if you're into that sort of thing. Just don't go in expecting to get stitches in your side from laughing. I did laugh a little a few times, but I was a little disappointed that I wasn't as amused as I was hoping to be based off of the general description of the book, which poses a lot of ‘Would you like…' questions that left me hopeful there'd be humor in the guide itself.
That said, for the price, it isn't a bad read. It is pretty close to what I'd consider professionally publishable quality, which puts it above a great many of the independent books I've been exposed to. That said, I wouldn't pay more than $0.99 for this book, as I think it does need more edgy humor to it and a harder edge to fit the them. I certainly wouldn't purchase it if I was in a book store based off of the cover alone, which didn't appeal to me at all.