rating: 2 of 5 stars
Of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Club Dead (Book 3) was definitely better than Living Dead in Dallas (Book 2), but lacked the believable (or semi-believable) plot of Dead Until Dark (Book 1). Instead of action sequence after action sequence, Harris slows down the pace and lets Sookie think about her surroundings and what she wants: Does she want Bill or Eric or Alcide? Sometimes Harris has her thinking about people and consequences way after I thought was appropriate, but Harris usually never left anything out -- which was good. However, she failed to let us readers know WHY Bill left Sookie for Lorena in the first place and if he was even upset that Sookie staked her (a pitfall of 1st person point of view). But this is explained within the first pages of Book 4. I can tell that Harris doesn't like Bill much -- she's making him more and more flat and gives Alcide and Eric all of the juicy lines. (Eric: "You are speaking of my future lover. Be more respectful.") Alcide comes across as a real person, through Harris's very clear details, but Sookie forgets about him as soon as he's out of sight.
Sookie was less annoying, but she is so stubborn that she doesn't want anyone to give her anything, yet she's hoping Bill will give her a present or money (yet she doesn't want to be a kept woman). Talk about sending mixed messages. Sookie is coming from a lower class background and is very insecure financially. I'd like to see more of her insecurity explored in the next book. I also couldn't buy into all of the book's violence, which is getting too much for me. How many beatings (and a rape) can this girl take? I hope this trend ends soon. But at least the violence broke up the boring setting of the bar and the situation of the girl getting ready to go out on the town. Sookie's outfits are dated and Harris seems to think that Sarah McLaughlin's "Good Enough" has a beat -- no, it doesn't. It's weird -- some parts of the book are very authentic, such as the food (biscuits, gravy, furniture), but the clothing descriptions seem off to me. Women usually don't wear formal cocktail dresses to a night club -- that's the domain of beaded tanks and leather skirts.But Harris is funny -- even more funny than in Book 1. I especially liked Sookie mentioning her "vampire cleaning crew" which made me think of Sandra Boynton's "Birthday Monsters" (I guess you have to have kids to get this one).
The ludricrous plot of the computer vampire directory that's in Bill's possession felt forced and contrived, but it made it possible for the reader to know more about Weres. I'm so tired of Bubba and so relieved that Alan Ball never considered using him in the HBO Series. I also wished Harris would trust her reader's intelligence and stop repeating facts that we should know about Sookie (i.e. her telepathy, her not going to college, her Word-of-the-Day obsession). I suppose the author must balance repeating old information vs. valuing the memories of loyal readers, but Harris could have done a better job.
On the plus side, Club Dead was a fast read and I didn't get bored like I did with Living Dead in Dallas. Harris is a strong writer when she wants to be and I hope that the rest of the series will be worth my time. At least it'll tide me over till "True Blood" returns in June.
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