rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm now a big fan of HBO's True Blood - in fact, I look forward to the repeats! But the first episode of True Blood didn’t hook me until Vampire Bill presented at the night meeting of the Descendants of the Glorious Dead (Episode 5). Poor Bill Compton, make a vampire only when he was trying to find a safe haven after the Civil War ended. When I found out that True Blood was first the Sookie Stackhouse series, I got the first book in the series right away. It's told from Sookie's point of view and she's a likeable voice -- intelligent, a little corny and very brave.I got the book with the "True Blood" photo on it and it's a lot better than the original cover.
If you’re familiar with the HBO Series, then I’d recommend reading Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse “Southern Vampire Mystery Series.” Harris is a competent writer, although she’s no Alan Ball, the series’ writer and creator. What I mean by that is that Ball uses clever foreshadowing, objects as emotional connections (Sookie’s grieves over Gran’s death by slowly eating her pecan pie and Bill grieves over his human loss by throwing an antique toaster into the fire), and fine characterizations to give as much weight to this series as it can hold. Both the book and series have humor, but the series’ humor is definitely dark without being silly. Without Ball’s fine touch, True Blood would descend into a cheesy drama found on Fox that probably would have last 3 shows. But to her credit, Harris sustains a very quick pace throughout the book, never slowing down too long for personal reflection or to smell the flowers. Her Sookie is a character who is quick to anger, naïve, and assumes the worst in her boyfriend Bill. Sookie (the book is told in first person) has to tell the reader exactly what she’s wearing – one of the dangers of using first person, but at least she doesn’t look in mirrors all of the time. Because of its fast pace, Sookie doesn’t have a chance to grieve over Gran’s death and minor characters aren’t given the chance to develop like they do in the show. Sadly, Jason, Arlene, Rene, Sam and especially Lafayette are one-note characters. Andy Bellfleur, surprisingly, is fairly well-drawn and we know more about him in the book than in the show. Perhaps Tara makes an appearance further in the series, but she’s nonexistent here. Dead Until Dark is sometimes serious and sometimes goofy, but always entertaining. I couldn’t put it down and finished it within a week as I worked on other reading and writing projects. That said, I loved Harris’s characterization of Bill and his love scenes with Sookie were well-written. They were neither quick and pat or X-rated, ala Anne Rice. She writes this line using a strong sensory image as Bill and Sookie are about to consummate their relationship, “My hands began to rub his arms helplessly. Strangely, I thought of a pan of caramels my grandmother had put on the stove for a candy recipe, and I thought of the melted, warm sweet goldenness of them.” Bill’s phrasing is just like in the series — he sounds both old fashioned and modern, depending upon the situation. When Arlene’s kids find out he doesn’t give Sookie flowers, he tells them, “I must mend my ways.”
I’d like to read more of Harris’s vampire series, one because I like Sookie’s voice, and two, because I now care about the characters, which is more a result of the show True Blood than this book.
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