Book Club: Dead Until Dark

22:00, Aug 06 2012

Welcome to the Stuff Book Club day, where the spotlight is on YOU. You're invited to post reviews of our book of the week in the comments section. What you think makes a book great - or not? This week, there's a prize at stake.

I suspect that like many fans of Charlaine Harris' The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series, I started by watching the TV series True Blood.

That's immediately problematic because one of the nice things about reading books is that you get to imagine what the characters look like in your head. Having seen the TV show first, I found that I couldn't get the actors out of my head.

So when I read about Sookie the telepathic Southern waitress in Dead Until Dark, I pictured Anna Paquin, vampire Bill was her real-life husband Stephen Moyer, and Eric (ahhh Eric) was the inimitable Alexander Skarsgard because, let's face it, my imagination can't really do any better than him.

In fact, apart from a few details, Dead Until Dark was pretty much season one of True Blood. The ending for the book was poles apart from the show though, and I can understand this because the relationship between Sookie, Eric and Bill also feels a lot different in the book.

Bill is much more of a dangerous vampire bad boy in Dead Until Dark than I had expected from watching True Blood. And it's intriguing that Eric starts displaying that he cares for Sookie this early on, which I know sets up their relationship for the later books.

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All in all, I feel that Harris does a good job of injecting a bit of excitement into Louisiana, which I had thought of in terms of cliches before this - Creole food, alligators, swamps and voodoo.   

One problem I've always had with the character of Sookie, though, is how easily distracted she is by the pursuit of a hot romance than, well, just about anything else. I experienced a moment of disconnect in Dead Until Dark after her grandmother Adele was killed, and she still seemed to be more interested in her budding romance with Bill than solving the case.

Surely if you have telepathic powers and came home to find your grandmother brutally murdered in the kitchen, your first instinct would be to go out there and start reading minds like nobody's business to find out whodunit.

To give her credit, Sookie is nowhere near as irritatingly helpless and whingeing as Bella Swan in Twilight, which the Southern Vampire series gets compared to a lot. I haven't read Twilight, so I don't know what the similarities could be, but judging from what I know of Bella, Sookie could probably eat her for breakfast, or magic her out of the realm with some faerie dust or something (a girl can dream).

Keep an eye out for Friday's post, where I interview Charlaine Harris during the Auckland leg of her NZ book tour!

I have two copies of Deadlocked - the latest (and second-to-last) book of the Sookie Stackhouse series to give away, thanks to publisher Hachette NZ. Best reader comments get the prize!