Friday, August 21, 2015

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire Mysteries #1)

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)I admit it.  I only read this book because it fulfilled a category for the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge--a book that was turned into a TV series.  I briefly considered Wizard's First Rule, which was turned into the brief-lived "Sword of Truth" series, but that book starts off a series that seems to never end, and if I liked the book I wanted there to be an end in sight, so it got discarded in favor of Dead Until Dark.  Which...isn't my type of book at all.  Unfortunately.  Vampire romances always kind of skeeve me out, because I mean, necrophilia, anyone?  Gross on so many levels.  But this had been turned into TrueBlood, so off I went to fulfill the category.

It was okay.

The plot, in a large sense, isn't half bad.  The story takes place at some point in time after vampires have "come out of the coffin" and are now public knowledge to pretty much the entire world.  Sookie Stackhouse lives in a small town in Louisiana and dreams of seeing a vampire, just to mix things up.  One night, she gets her wish.  Vampire Bill Compton shows up at Merlotte's the bar where Sookie works, and she ends up saving his life from a couple of people who want to drain his blood to sell as drugs.  From there on, Bill and Sookie are very closely linked, and you can probably guess the rest.  However, a string of murders is occurring in Bon Temps, and Sookie might be on the list--if she can't use her telepathic abilities to find the killer first.  Oh, and every vampire (and shape-shifter...and most humans...) wants a piece of her, too.

I wasn't a huge fan of Harris' writing style, which was very tell-y for a good chunk of the book, and I had some issues with Sookie as a main character.  First, she falls into the category of "pretty much everyone loves me for no real reason."  She's  nice girl, sure, and pretty, but almost every man in the book feels a need to drool all over her every time she turns around.  This got very old, very fast, especially because a few characters (JB, anyone?) existed simply to confirm how attractive Sookie was to everyone she met.  And over the course of the book, she only gets more attractive.  Dear lord, this girl has to be a goddess by the end of the series.  Second, Sookie had some weird vibes going on with other women--like she needlessly hated them but wanted to act like she didn't.  Anyone who remotely looked at a man other than Sookie and her friend Arlene was pretty much immediately deemed a slut (and Arlene, having been married several times, seems to be treading the slut-line in Sookie's head) and anyone who is attracted to vampires is not only a slut but a fang-banger, which seems like an awfully derogatory term for Sookie to be using (even if other people use it) considering that she's dating a vampire for most of the book and the relationship is most decidedly not celibate.  Third, she also has this weird balance of wanting Bill to be a complete old-fashioned gentleman but not wanting him to treat her like she's super fragile and all that--when she is compared to him.  Sookie is a frustrating woman, and it made her hard to empathize with, even if I didn't actively dislike her.  It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, but it's everyone else's prerogative to not put up with her shit when she continues to do so beyond all reason.

I also didn't find the "romance" here particularly romantic.  It was just kind of...meh.  I didn't think that Sookie and Bill had any real chemistry on the page, and felt that many other paranormal authors (Rachel Caine comes to mind immediately) did the romance aspects of their books much better.

Overall, this was okay.  I liked it, kind of, but I doubt I'll be reading the rest of them.

2.5 to 3 stars.

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