11 September 2008

Review: Charlaine Harris - Dead Until Dark

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Ace (September 3, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0441016995
ISBN-13: 978-0441016990

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out too much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability.' She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too datable.
And then comes along Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the kind of guy she's been waiting for all her life...But Bill has a disability of his own. He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of - big surprise - murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next...

Sometimes I hear about an author that makes all my bells and whistles go off in anticipation of sheer rapture upon reading it. And then there are authors you hear from and upon finding their books you go, okay…this is very interesting. Charlaine Harris was the latter for me and as I’m always interested in trying something new I opened up this book wondering what I would find.

With the first taste I got from the world of Charliane Harris is that everything is basically the same as in ours, only Vampire’s are out and about. They are talking on Oprah, have civil rights and their blood is considered quite the enhancer. May this be health wise, to spice up once bed activities or get an overall high. I got acquainted with Drainers, who drain the vampire’s from their blood and I met fang-bangers, who are men and women that let themselves get necked by vampires.

I stepped into this world via the point of view from Sookie, who is a cocktail-waitress in a small town and who has the ability to read minds. When Sookie meets Bill for the first time in Merlotte’s there is a stillness she is unfamiliar with, she can’t hear his thoughts and for that alone she want to get to know him. But as a murderer leaves a trail of blood all eyes got to the one vampire who walked into their small town.

Now the downside of the first person narrative is that the reader needs to like the character from whose point of view everything is told. Though I liked Sookie and felt she had enough quirky thoughts and feelings to keep my interest at a steady level I couldn’t feel myself wanting to dive head on in to know all about her life and love. Bill remains a bit of a mystery throughout the story and the author gives very little that makes me get all hot and bothered about him. The chemistry between her and Bill are - to say the least - a bit odd. Though the attraction is there I fail to feel the emotions between them, the humor is there but I can’t seem to completely understand or pick up on it. The plot is evident but I wanted it to be more fleshed out. My mind say’s it is a good, qualitative and amusing story that spins off a fresh series but I can’t seem to feel it…and that is what I ultimately want. I want to succumb myself into a story that makes me flip the pages in anticipation and makes me feel the exchange of the words: ‘I love you.’

Through Sookie a small town comes alive for me with all the habitants and distinctive architecture. If there is one thing I feel the author has hit spot on is the atmosphere of a true southern small town with various colorful people. The issue of the vampires being recognized by the government still proves to be difficult to accept for many. With a substantial secondary cast it holds interesting character development for future novels and it completes the setting of this tale. In Dead Until Dark I got a mere taste of a few like Sam, the owner of Merlotte’s, Eric a vampire not to mess with, or the brother of Sookie, Jason.

While a murderer is scheming his ugly fantasies this is another thing that didn’t hit the bull’s eye with me. It kept my interest to find out who the usurper was and this was definitely a surprise but the perception of evil lurking around every page - biding his time - could not curl its icy fingers around me. Plot, love story and world building…I know it holds quality writing by Charlaine Harris but it didn’t succeed to connect and engage me in the story of Sookie and Bill. Though the author has captured many readers with the Southern Vampire novels it missed its mark with me. I was interested but not consumed by it. For me Dead Until Dark embarked a start with a new series that ended with the same story.

I feel that if you’re in the mood for a different, slightly dark vampire read then Charlaine Harris with her Southern Vampire series is the way to go.

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