The first in a series of young adult oriented novels based in the Glee universe created by Ryan Murphy, The Beginning sets out with the idea of giving us a story that takes place before the series begin and before the motley crew of students that make up the glee club of the series had come together as one.
Having said that, it’s probably needless to say the plot isn’t the most original one even for the Glee universe, but this book really has more things to it, both good and bad, than what could be described as a somewhat weak attempt at a plot for a book novel and, though not horrible in its execution, The Beginning doesn’t really manage to do anything over its (rather short) length.
The simple, somewhat insipid plot of this novel has some of the members of the glee club getting to meet each other after Rachel joins the club and tries to convince everyone to perform on the homecoming dance. The cheerios, who apparently loathed the glee club way before Sue Sylvester started actively antagonizing its members, decide to sabotage their performance mainly for the fun of it, though in part due to Quinn, who’s fooling around with Puck during this book, having noticed Finn being nice to Rachel. In other words, the plot of this “Original Novel” is pretty much every single stereotype put on the TV series brought to its max over the roughly two hundred pages it has.
Besides the simple plot, the book boasts nearly no character development, meaning the lack of development we see in some of the series’ characters not only carries over to the book, but it also becomes more obvious with most of the characters, even the ones who have seen proper development in the series, becoming totally one-dimensional characters that are there mostly to fill up a character quota than to actually convey a story or a message. Even worse are the parts where the characters don’t even stick to the personalities they’ve been given in the series by doing, saying or thinking things that are completely out of character for them.
The other side of this novel is the fact that the already weak plot doesn’t really go anywhere. The narrative flow in this book is about as deep as that of the diary of a teenager and by the end of the book barely anything has been attained by any of the characters, since the only apparent source of drama within it is the cheerios’ sabotage to the glee club performance and their later comeback during the homecoming dance, both being rather silly plot devices.
Other than that, I can say that at least the book is mildly entertaining – I went through it pretty fast without much of a problem, but I’ll admit the idea of reading this again is one I have not and will not entertain, not with the huge backlog of books to read I have and the already huge amount of excellent novels I’ve read that could do with a second (or third) read. Nevertheless, this is a mildly interesting read that, though lacking severely in content, should manage to keep some people, particularly young teenagers who are glee fans entertained and, hopefully, push them to get into deeper reading material later on.
All in all, Glee – The Beginning: An Original Novel is a very weak attempt at cashing into the hit franchise that pretty much outlines all the don’ts of writing spinoff novels to established franchises. Sure, said novels are generally thought of as terrible anyway, but there are ways of writing them to make decent reads (Wizards of the Coast’s A Planeswalker Novel series does this with Magic: The Gathering characters pretty well). Between a weak plot, horrible characterizations and a writing style that’s all over the place, however, you might be better off reading Glee fan fiction than reading this, since I’m sure there must be something out there with more content and better drama than this. As for the writer, I hope she didn’t quit her day job to do this. Recommended only for total Glee fans and, perhaps, young teenagers who are already into Glee and might use this as a very shallow introduction to reading.
Final review rating: 2/5
Availability: The book is currently available on physical and digital form from Amazon.com
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