Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

It all started with Twilight. This summer I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City. While I was there, the last book in Stephanie Meyers' Twilight series was released at midnight. After seeing countless girls and women (no dudes) waiting in line hours before the release, I walked into the Barnes and Noble and casually edged by the vampire book table. Yes, every Barnes and Noble or Borders worth their salt has a vampire table now. I wasn't really keen on being seen actually looking at a book on the cheesily decorated vampire table...nevermind buying one then.

It took a few more months (and some friends' testimonials) to actually buy Twilight. Which I read in a night. I finished the series in 5 days. In order to do this, I read in public. I read at work. I read on the Metro. I removed the covers from the books so people wouldn't realize I was reading the newest tween phenomenon. I loved those books. And I covertly began recommending the book to my friends. Well, the ones who wouldn't make fun of me.

So when I heard about this series, the "Southern Vampire" books or the "Sookie Stackhouse" novels, I was more open-minded. I checked one out at the library. I was well-pleased by its glittery cover. My esteem for it was bolstered by the fact that a new HBO series, TrueBlood, was based on it. And while it didn't quite live up to Twilight, it was pretty good. Not literary masterpiece good (by far), but entertaining.

Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress living in Northern Louisiana, a few years after vampires, now a nationally recognized minority group, have "come out of the coffin." Sookie is a sweet girl but doesn't have much luck with the menfolk because she can read their minds. However, most people in town don't really believe she has a special power. The just think she's kind of crazy. Sookie meets a vampire for the first time when one named Bill walks into her bar one night. Typical romance novel ensues for a bit - he senses she's different, she saves his life, he saves hers, they start to date, have descriptive-but-not-graphic sex scenes. Their relationship unfolds along the backdrop of a string of unsolved murders in town. Additionally, it turns out that some other vampires, ones that aren't trying to "mainstream" into human society like Bill, get a whiff of Sookie's gift. Bill and Sookie find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery and protect Sookie from some vampires that really, really vant to suck her blood (haha).

This book was great for what I wanted right now - something light and fun after the dryer book I just finished. I wouldn't recommend it to any of you guys, it's definitely a chick book. I don't even know if I'd recommend it to all Twilight fans. Twilight had a little something extra going on, kind of a darkly gothic vibe. This book, even given its subject matter, was strictly romance and mystery. No undertones. And for all you haters out there (Mr. Chilton), I fully recognize that this book is no literary treasure. Some lines were awkwardly red-neck, and Bill and Sookie's relationship was a little too earnest at times for the lighthearted spirit of the rest of the book. Overall, this book probably falls somewhere in between The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada in the great literary scheme of things.

I'm totally going to read the other 8 books in these series. And blog about them. But not right away. Next, I need to read something just a touch more edifying. And then, when I'm ready, I'll return to Sookie and Bill.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

I'd never heard of these books until about 2 weeks ago when one of the girls on our book review blog suddenly reviewed all 9 of them. A couple nights later, I happened to walk by them in Barnes & Nobles. I know I wouldn't have noticed them at all if it hadn't been for the reviews. Interesting what these book blogs do to you.

btw - the reviewer on our blog at one point said this series started living up to Twilight, which she's a big fan of, too.

Nathan said...

Mutual life-saving and descriptive but not graphic sex is pretty much how I feel about romance.

I, too, hate this weird and inexplicable surge in young adult, vampire-themed chick lit. Vlad the Impaler is spinning in his grave right now, which isn't as strong an expression since he's undead. Dammit Meagan.

Jim said...

Dammit Meagan, indeed.

I just wanna use this review as an opportunity to tell everyone to go see/rent/download 'Let the Right One In.' Its a Swedish vampire romance and its one of the most beautifully shot movies I've ever seen in my life.

Chris and Nathan I know would really enjoy it.

Nihil Novum said...

I just want to take this opportunity to mention that real vampires don't, in fact, sparkle.

Nathan said...

Brent, how could you know that, unless...

Nathan said...

And Jim I saw a preview for that movie, and it looked awesome. Gonna watch it soon.

Christopher said...

Yeah, I heard that Let the Right One In is fantastic. Do you have a download location, Jim?

megan said...

I love your term "literary treasure." Although neither "Dead Until Dark" or "Twilight" was one, they were still delightful, creative, addictive reads. After reading both first books in each pop-vamp series, I'll be reading more from "Twilight" but not "Sookie." Gotta have a good page-turner every once and a while!

http://meganjust.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/bella-and-sookie/

Great job on your blog, by the way.

xantha said...

I love this series being born and raised in deep South Brookhaven and Natchez Ms and loving all things vampire thise series fits things and I do in the books like have to shop at walmart thought I do not really want to shop at walmart but do to where i live and money anyway great books Laura K Hamaliton books about Anita Blake vampire killer are better! Check them out