Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Sookie Stackhouse novels - Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Until Dark (Book 1)
Living Dead In Dallas (Book 2)
Club Dead (Book 3)
Dead to the World (Book 4)
Dead as a Doornail (Book 5)
Definitely Dead (Book 6)
Altogether Dead (Book 7)
From Dead to Worse (Book 8)
Dead and Gone (Book 9)

Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace, 2001-2009 (Paperback for books 1-8, Hardcover for book 9)
Length: 300 pages (average)
Genre: Adult; Fantasy/Mystery
Started: July 2009 (Book 1)
Finished: October 2009 (Book 9)

The novels that inspired the HBO show TrueBlood. Sookie Stackhouse lives in Bon Temps, Louisiana; and lives a fairly normal life working as a waitress. Except Sookie has what she calls 'a disability'-she can read people's minds. In a world where vampires have "come out" (while the existence of weres, shape shifters, fairies, and other supernatural beings remains secret), Sookie's life is about to get a lot more interesting. All the books revolve around some sort of mystery or a murder of either the humans or the supernatural characters. Sookie's telepathy comes in quite handy at times, although she can only read human minds. All the plots are connected to each other, so although it isn't necessary to have read all the books in order (Charlaine Harris repeats certain key points in each book) you'd be missing out on a lot of the finer details if you don't read them in order.

Okay, I admit, I love love love the TrueBlood show and that's the sole reason I picked these up. If there's a movie or tv show I adore and find out it was based on a book, I always make sure to read the book since there's a pretty good chance I'll love the book even more. For TrueBlood fans who want to try the books, be warned that the plot of the books varies from the show. The events of the whole first season occur in the first book. One book. They had to pad the story line quite a bit to get a whole season from one book, same with season two (based on events from book 2). If that doesn't bother you, then you'll be in for quite an addictive series.

The characters are immensely likable. I don't know if it's the whole Southern speech thing that's so endearing, but I love all of them. Sookie is a strong female character, she always holds her own and doesn't let anyone push her around (not even the vampires!). She doesn't have any education beyond high school due to her telepathy, but she's well-read, intelligent, and I love her Word of the Day calendar that she uses to improve her vocabulary. Sookie's brother Jason character changes a lot over the course of 9 books, and I found that I liked him less and less, he's depicted as a playboy but without the charm and heart that the tv show gives him. I love the vampire scenes, they're so completely deadpan that when they try to be funny you can't help but laugh. Surprisingly, Bill's character seems flat for the first few books and he only really fleshes out in the later books. Eric is your token bad boy vampire, and quite detestable at first; but he's an acquired taste, and I found he really grew on me (I'm quite the Eric fan now). There are quite a few characters that get introduced throughout the series, but it never gets to the point where there's too many to keep track of.

The plot of every book is different, but similar in what they cover: murder/mystery occurs, Sookie somehow gets involved, enlists the help of the vamps/weres/shifters/fairies, everything gets resolved in the last few chapters, action/character development occurs during the middle. The formula is quite simple, but every book captured my interest and kept me reading to the end and on to the next book.

These books truly are my guilty pleasure literature: I know they're not masterpieces and I'm not going to be blown away by deep metaphors and symbolism, but I don't care. They're great, light reads, full of engaging stories and characters that you like so much you'll beg the author to write more. Everyone that I've recommended these to has fallen in love with them; if you hear random stampedes in the direction of the nearest bookstore, I take full responsibility, just another victim of the influence of my lending library!

If you're looking for a few relaxing, yet addicting reads, pick these up! The first 8 books are available in paperback individually and in a boxset, the 9th is available in hardcover. These books are not for kiddie Twilight fans though, there is some mature content and explicit sex scenes, so don't buy this for your 9 year old just because she's into vampires.

Thoughts on the covers:
I am by no means embarrassed by what I read. But I have to admit I was embarrassed to carry these around because of the cheesy covers! The vampires are drawn Dracula-style with long black capes...I like my vamps to change with the times and wear slightly more modern clothes (and nowhere in the books does it mention huge capes). There is some new cover art floating around with close-ups of what we assume is Sookie's face with different coloured fog clouds around her. Not a big fan of those either. I do like the tv show tie-in covers for books 1 & 2 featuring the actors that play Bill and Sookie.

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