Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book: Dead Until Dark & Thoughts On Books In General

Ooohh...I've just started rewatching the series Rome. This was such a wonderfully done show. HBO needs to do more things! *slides a stack of The Dresden Files books in their direction* I think they might be able to do it justice...

Right then. Books. I'm still in the H's, and just finished the first book in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series, Dead Until Dark. The series is a fantasy mystery series set in a slightly alternate world. Same basic history, but fairly recently the vampires of the world came out of the coffin, so to speak. Due to the development, by the Japanese, of a synthetic blood substitute the vampire populace feels that they can now be a part of society without being perceived as a threat. The public story is that they suffer from a virus which makes them seem dead for a few days and then they recover, but are left altered - unable to go out in sunlight and dependent on blood for their sustenance.

Our point of view character, the main character is Sookie Stackhouse. She's a pretty blonde waitress in Merlotte's Bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie has a brother, Jason, who lives in their parents old home and Sookie herself lives with her grandmother, helping to take care of the house, etc. Sookie has a 'disability' - she can read minds.

This tends to make her life difficult since it's not something she can reliably control. It's kept her from getting close to very many people and it's been hell on her dating life. How'd you like to be on a date with someone and hear every thought that shoots through their brain? Know that they're thinking about how big your butt looks or that they're wondering what you look like naked, or that they're thinking about how they need to shampoo the carpet?

Aside from her power, which no one really believes she has anyway - they all think she's nuts - Sookie's life is very normal. Until one day a vampire walks into the bar. The vampire, whose name is Bill, is actually originally from Bon Temps. Of course he was last there during the Civil War, but he is a home grown boy. Sookie is thrilled, a little excitement in her fairly boring life, but then she discovers that she cannot hear Bill's thoughts. It's utterly quiet around him, which draws her too him even more than just the excitement of 'something different.'

There's speculation and talk and small town prejudice, of course, but Bill and Sookie start dating. Two unusual people finding each other.

Seeing as how it's a mystery series it shouldn't surprise anyone that people start getting murdered in Bon Temps. Women who were known to run around with vampires. Suspicion falls on Bill, Jason, Sam (Sookie's boss) and a lot of other people. Because Sookie's been seen with Bill she's also a target and the villain makes several attempts to kill her.

Sookie spends a lot of time and effort trying to find the killer to keep herself safe, of course, but also to keep Bill and Jason out of jail and to stop anyone else from getting killed.

It's a fun, fluffy series all in all. What I think of as beach reading. You're not going to learn any deep meaningful lessons from it, but it's diverting and well written. If you like that sort of thing. :)

Okay then. So, now thoughts on books. I get asked all the time for book recommendations because people see me reading all the time. I generally hesitate to do so because taste's are so varied. Something that I love may not meet the taste's of another. What are they looking for in the book? Does every novel have to have elements of their pet cause? Do they not like sex in their books? Only read westerns? Only read Christian fiction? Are there things that they find offensive? I personally cannot read books where animals die. There's a book getting passed around at work that is apparently fabulous. I think it's called A Dog's Life or something like that. And it's this dog dieing and being reborn - someone told me that the dog isn't abused or anything, these are natural deaths. I still can't read it. Can't do it.

Recommending books is tricky, as I say, because you can never know for sure what people will like. Something that a lot of 'literary' people won't tell you is that even the great writers have people who don't like them. I know people who don't like Shakespeare. Don't like Faulkner (okay, that one's me. My AP English teacher ruined Faulkner for me) or Hemingway or Dostoyevsky. Can't stand Austen or the Bronte sisters. I love Arthur Conan Doyle, but I accept that there are people who don't enjoy his work. I think they're nuts, but I know that my opinion is not the only one. Agatha Christie, who is considered a fabulous mystery writer had two dimensional characters. But her mysteries, the heart of the books were extremely well done.

So I try not to do fiction recommendations unless the person and I share tastes because I hate telling people about good books that they're not going to enjoy just because we don't have the same expectations and desires for the book.


  1. DON'T WATCH MARLEY AND ME!!!! Or read it, I assume, but I wouldn't know because I'm avoiding it like the plague.

    My parents got this when I was visiting one time. I'd seen previews but didn't really know anything about it, but I thought "oo, cute puppy!" And it really was. It was a pretty cute, funny movie w/some sad parts and some funny parts and some awesome parts. And then puppy died. And I cried for the next hour and was really upset and annoyed. I am almost positive the previews never showed anything to suggest it was a sad movie, and I felt tricked. I'm sort of the same way and never would have watched it if I'd known that was how it ended.

    Anyway. Thanks for the summary and review! I won't look at these for quite awhile, probably, but I'm interested enough now that I want to get to them eventually. :)

  2. They actually sound like cute books. How can one resist a vampire named Bill, for goodness' sake? I think she had written non-vampire books before that I happened to find at the library and really enjoyed. Then I saw a new book from her and started reading about a guy ordering blood at a bar and was like "Huh?!" This was before I realized America had been taken over by love for vampires. (I'm a bit slow.)

    I understand what you mean about not everyone's tastes being the same especially in regards to fiction!

    Enjoyed the review!

  3. sanil,

    Never. I somehow heard that the dog died before I could see the movie or read the book and that was that. I will never ever see it. Even Supernatural - the one ep with the kids who lived in the walls/basement, where they kill the new family's dog? Yeah. I have to fast forward through that bit. And anything that can make me skip through a part of Supernatural? Clearly wigs me right the hell out. Or! I Am Legend! He winds up having to kill his dog. Can't watch that movie ever again.

    They're cute books, really. Like I said, something nice and fluffy. :)

  4. Susanne,

    I know. Even the characters in the books start calling him 'VB' or 'Vampire Bill'. Such an ordinary name...he doesn't even have the dramatic flair to go by William or something. *rolls eyes* :D

    Do you mean her 'Shakespeare' mysteries? She's written a couple cute little mystery series I think. I only got into her because of the vampires. Hah! I guess if you didn't know there were vampires in the book the ordering of blood as a beverage might throw you a bit.


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