Book Club: Dead Until Dark

Last updated 10:00 07/08/2012

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.

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!

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Teressa   #1   10:16 am Aug 07 2012

I think this is a great series. I also watch the show and find it hard that the series varies so much from the books later on. I have found the earlier books are better then the later ones but does depend on what you enjoy in the books. The great thing though is there is always new drama. It's not the same thing over and over.

Carly   #2   10:19 am Aug 07 2012

I'm willing to risk the ire of my aggrieved partner to throw my hat in the ring for this prize book - he wouldn't get a sensible word from me until I'd read it all the way through, in one sitting!

I wanted to remain aloof to this series and the other proliferation of supernatural novels of the past few years - and I haven't watched any of True Blood at all yet - but I got sucked in. Big time. Idle curiosity got the better of me and two months later I'm on my second read of the series, a little way through Dead to the World. Better still, once I'm done I have all those True Blood eps to watch!

I was a Buffy fanatic back in the day and didn't think any of these newcomers could match up in creating an escapist universe I could immerse myself in... The Southern Vampire Mysteries have surprised me :) I can also recommend Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series for more shapeshifting goodness :)

Kitten   #3   10:23 am Aug 07 2012

Sookie is nothing like Bella and those books should absolutely NOT be compared! True Blood is 1 squillion times better in my book (haha, 'scuse the pun!). Sookie would definately devour Bella for breakfast! I like it that Harris includes the little nuances of everyday life in Bon Temps in her books - recipies and geographical facts of the region etc (the South sounds like a very interesting region and I will go to New Orleans one day and see the French Quarter & Anne Rice!).

Yes, the books and the TV show are very very different in many ways - Tara is totally different in the books, for example. But I do enjoy both the books and the show equally and was bummed yesterday to read that next year's Sookie novel will be the last :( *tears....

Al78   #4   10:24 am Aug 07 2012

Like you I started reading the books after watching the first seires on TV but unlike the ending on TV I loved the ending in the book and somehow seemed fitting for the story. I also love how Charlaine Harris' brings in new charaters with magical gifts and non of seems out there in the world that she has created. I both look forward with excitment and sorrow to reading the last couple of books and seeing how she's going to end it all.

Beth   #5   10:26 am Aug 07 2012

As someone who also started reading after the television show came out, I struggled to not think of Anna Paquin for the first 3 books, but as I kept reading, I found I had adjusted the characters so that they only slightly resembled the actors which play those roles. However, sometimes I manage to forget their descriptions entirely, as when I read Harry Potter I imagined him as a blonde with a kiwi accent :D Favourite character from the Sookie Stackhouse novels is Quinn, but I was very disappointed as to how that whole storyline played out.

Alice   #6   10:47 am Aug 07 2012

I'm very punctual but always late to the party so I haven't seen the TV series or read the books to date. They are on my to watch and to read lists though. I think I will endeavour to read the books first to see what I think of the TV adaptation.

Also, is there anyway to find out what books we will be discussing in advance of your next blog post?

Lisa   #7   10:50 am Aug 07 2012

I actually read these books before I watched it on TV, wasn't really big on vampire anything so I avoided watching it but thoroughly enjoyed the books so now I'm careful not to miss it on tv - stil prefer the books though and Eric and Bill are pretty much as I imagined although not so much Pam.

Juliette   #8   10:50 am Aug 07 2012

I have deliberately not watched the show as I love the books so much, but once the series finishes I will give them a go. You should also check out her other series, she has two other really strong female leads in mystery genre. It was reading these that got me onto the sookie books and that lead into the whole vampire genre. I have enjoyed all her novels and am sad they are coming to an end :(

Kiri   #9   10:55 am Aug 07 2012

The best thing about the Twilight books is they get young girls into reading. Twilight prepared my teenager for the more adult themed Sookie Stackhouse books, which she absolutely loves....

Jellybean   #10   11:20 am Aug 07 2012

I read the books before seeing the series, but now when reading envision the characters as Anna, Stephen etc . . .

What I don't like about the show is that they kept Tara going. She has got to be the most annoying character EVER! She had such a small part in the book yet she's huge on the program.


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