Friday, September 23, 2011

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Published May 2001.

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life . . .

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of - big surprise - murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next . . . (book back blurb)

One night when I was at soldier boy's and we didn't have much to do, I told him to just go ahead and put on the latest episode of True Blood because I wanted to see if I liked it (I can usually tell if I'm going to like a show regardless of where I pick up an episode). So we watched it, I really liked it and I went and bought the first season. I devoured it and now I'm just waiting for the second season to arrive (which should be today, yay!). Late bloomer, I know. I haven't had HBO in years and I don't regularly watch TV. Story of my life. But I knew I had this book in the pile because I've had people bugging me to try it out for a while now. So after nomming Season 1 of the TV show, it was time I take a look at the books and see how they compare.

I like the show better. MUCH better. SO MUCH better. Now, I don't know if I like it better because I saw it before reading the books. HBO did fluff it up quite a bit: made it sexier, added more subplots and characters and Season 1 parallels DEAD UNTIL DARK really closely. I was just not nearly as excited about the book as I am about the show. I liked the authenticity of the voice. I really believed that, I could see Sookie's surroundings as she spoke and I could feel the setting. That was the most vivid part of the writing for me. Plus Sookie isn't made out to be some Plain Jane that all the boys drool after. Super kudos for that. She's cute with a big rack and she knows it. She just can't do much about it. I liked that.

DEAD UNTIL DARK was entertaining enough and it probably helped that I had images from the show to supplement my reading but overall, I felt the writing was kind of lackluster. Sookie, in the book, is a bit monotone for my taste. All of the descriptions are really simple (because of the character, not that she's simple, she's just not all that highly educated) and I felt that the story was more about spitting out the information that letting it simmer and seep in. I didn't feel all that engaged in her and Bill's relationship and when the murders kept happening, and then the final scene with the murderer, I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted to because I like the show so much but the writing just lacks this pizazz that I think HBO found and amped up.

Maybe I'm not being fair but it's not like I can take back that I've already started watching the show and re-read the book with virgin eyes. DEAD UNTIL DARK is pretty entertaining but I've read far more gripping books than this with characters that pop out instead of just amble around the plot.

Maybe it's because it's the first book in the series but it could be one of the reasons why I wasn't all that engaged was because there was hardly anything else going on other than Sookie and Bill. Yeah, you have Sam but that's kind of spit out at the end as an afterthought (whereas in the show it's foreshadowed a lot) but not much branches off of that one plot line. And because that one plot line wasn't all that thrilling for me, there wasn't much else I could latch onto to keep me going through it. I wouldn't say I was bored at all but I just wasn't all that jazzed about it.

I will absolutely keep watching the seasons as they come (hell, I have three to catch up on and I'm trying my damndest not to spoil myself with the ending of Season 4). As for the books? I'll have to dip into my trusted sources and see if they'd be worth my while. If they say the writing progresses and the stories get more involved, I might take a chance. As it stands now, I'm not leaning that way.

Ban Factor: High - While God is mentioned a couple of times, Sookie's bedding a vampire and it has a tendency of getting a little graphic, there's an ample amount of swearing and people are getting killed left, right and center. The banners, they pee themselves.
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