Wanna Cook?: The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad Paperback – 13 May 2014
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There are a lot of books out there that say they are the unofficial companion guides to whatever television series, but let me say up front, Ensley F. Guffey and K. Dale Koontz have found the perfect formula. Wanna Cook? is the primer for how those books should be written. --Glenn Walker, BIFF BAM POP
About the Author
Ensley F. Guffey is a historian of American popular culture, and he has published scholarly essays on Breaking Bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape, and Marvel's The Avengers. K. Dale Koontz is the author of Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon (McFarland, 2008) and teaches courses in areas as diverse as communications, film, theatre, and the law.
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When I speak about it to people who haven't watched it and they ask me what it's about, I struggle with how to answer. When I read what it was about myself I was left wondering, 'Okay, is that it?'. A high school teacher learns he has cancer and so starts cooking meth with an ex-pupil to leave money behind for his family. It doesn't sound like much on paper or said out loud but after just 60 seconds of the Pilot episode and I was hooked. Vince Gilligan is just a genius and the cast of this show is second to none. There isn't a single bad character, okay some of them are annoying at times but overall the acting from each and every character is fantastic.
I was bereft when I reached the final episode. I wanted to watch it so much but I didn't at the same time as I knew it signified the end. I've got the blu-ray box set which is full of extras and of course I can watch it again from the start but nothing beats watching it for the very first time and I am beyond envious at the people that are yet to do it. If you are one of those people that avoids something because it's popular or because everybody else can't shut up about it then don't, just watch it!
Upon reaching the end I searched for books about it and didn't really find anything that took my fancy. Then I found this little gem on Net Galley and was ecstatic when my request was approved. This is very much a case of a book which has been written by the fans for the fans. It's also one that I definitely want a hard copy of and so I can't wait for its release. It's essentially an episode guide for every single episode, but at the end of each episode recap are 'LAB NOTES' which contains trivia about the episode: e.g. HIGHLIGHTS, DID YOU NOTICE?, INTERESTING FACTS etc. I definitely learned things about the show I didn't know before this but there are also things about the show I know that aren't included here. It is extremely in-depth however. Each season also ends with SPEED KILLS which lists the body count of dead characters and beatdowns.
There is also a feature in the book entitled 'WHAT'S COOKING' which are 'essays' about the show and include, 'Change We Can Believe In', 'Walter White and the Antihero', ''Better Call Saul!'', ''This Ho Has To Go!'' which refers to fan hatred for Skylar White, 'Buying the House' which is about Jesse's home and 'The Ones Who Knock' which is about violence in Breaking Bad. There are all very enjoyable and in-depth essays about the show that any fan will love reading.
This book is definitely a must have for any Breaking Bad fan's collection but also for those new to the series. It's something you can read from start to finish or use as a reference when watching the show. It's weird how much stuff you actually miss when watching the show (which is another reason to watch it on repeat!) as I found myself reading parts of the book and thinking 'I don't remember that!' or 'I didn't notice that!' Breaking Bad is definitely a show that when you watch it for the second, third, fourth etc time you will learn or notice something new and this book can definitely help you to do that.
The writing is funny and really informative, every episode is broken down and explained without giving away and spoilers. The fact that it doesn't give spoilers is handy if you're someone who thinks they might want to watch breaking bad; you'll know what's happening but there will still be plenty of surprises.
It has surprised me how little I actually knew about breaking bad; I've gone from thinking I'd missed nothing to seeing that I'd managed to miss everything that wasn't plainly pointed out in the episodes! Wanna Cook explains the characters changes and behavior which highlights how much they change over the series, and it shows some motivations that I had missed! The book also really helpfully explains certain sayings and the science behind Breaking bad, it was difficult to understand some of the phrases and things that seemed like in jokes in Breaking Bad and since I didn't want to google 'How to make Meth' the book was helpful as it has probably kept me off the government watch list for googling such things!
I had no idea how poetic Breaking Bad was until I read Wanna Cook and I would recommend it to anyone who is either interested in or a devoted fan of Breaking Bad!
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