First, I would like to say that I am by no means a database expert. Most of my programming knowledge and experience is front-end work. I like having some humor in my technical books. As a matter of fact, I got into programming after reading the humorous book C For Dummies. With a future project that my require me to know a few things about databases, I thought I should pick up "The Manga Guide to Databases". This manga is part of the "The Manga Guide to
The story takes place in a Magical Kingdom of Kod where Princess Ruruna was left to take care of the kingdom's fruit selling business while her parents are away. Princess Ruruna instantly realizes that the business was being handled inefficiently and wishes for a more effective way to handle her work. Enter Tico: the "Database Fairy". She teaches Princess Ruruna and her dependable assistant Cain the basics of creating and managing a database. The story is interleaved with the technical explanations throughout the book with a summary and quiz at the end of each chapter.
The first chapter, entitled "What is a Database?" explains why you would want to store your data inside a database. The chapter explains why the reader Princess Ruruna would want to use a database rather than sharing a single file between various people or entities. The second chapter justifies using a relational database as opposed to "Hierarchical" or "Network data" based database. They didn't seem to address situations where you wouldn't want to use a database or where a relational database would be an overkill. I guess that's for a more in-depth book to cover.
The third chapter goes into the design of the database. They talk about how to create an ER Model and how to create a database that is in 3rd normal form. The fourth chapter gets into the actual SQL syntax along with many examples (which is extremely useful for reasons I will explain later). These two chapters are very dense in information (compared to all the other chapters) and felt very odd to read. Sadly, I am so used to not having to "think" while reading a manga so this chapter actually took much longer to read than expected.
The last two chapters go over basic management of a database like security, disaster recovery, how to distribute the load to other servers and some more high level tips along with some examples. I will not spoil the ending of the story but it will at least bring you a smile in your face after reading it.
The biggest strength of this book, which is also its biggest weakness is that the authors tried to be very generic when they explained everything from networking to the SQL syntax. Hence, they didn't really go over how to install a database on your computer or how to bring up the SQL console. However, this allowed the manga to not waste time with vendor specific features and gotchas or risk being outdated in just a year. Personally, I am more of a hands-on person that would like to try out commands here and there with an actual database. Therefore, it was hard to understand some of the topics without me replicating the examples into a database of my own. However, the examples that are provided are nice and clean-cut (compared to the one had I had to read in college) and the quizzes help out in making sure I actually understood the material.
After reading this book, the reader will be expected to read up on the manuals for whatever vendor they choose. This also became a problem when they were talking about creating logs for the database and triggers or stored procedures. As mentioned before, this is also a good thing since I wouldn't have wasted my time learning how to do a function for only one kind of database.
So, who should read this book? People who are into anime/manga and want to learn the basics will definitely enjoy this book. The rather cliche manga/anime parts didn't really bother me since the story is not epic or complex. Even if you are not into anime or manga and just want a brief overview, this book is fairly good as it explain things without being bogged down with any specific vendor. Anybody that wants to get something done quickly will find this book useless as it will not even explain the first step of where to download and install a database on to your computer. Overall, I felt that the book brough a little bit of fun in a previously too boring world of databases.