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Review: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

In Books on March 8, 2010 at 12:10 am

charrisb2 3andahalfstars   

       The second of seven books in a series, Harris brings more complications and adventures to Sookie Stackhouse’s vampire-driven love life. The story starts with an unexplained and controversial murder of Sookie’s friend and co-worker, Lafayette. As what is expected of her kind and caring nature, she immediately puts her gift (she can hear other people’s thoughts) into use to find the killer. This however is cut short when her boyfriend Bill Compton a.k.a Vampire Bill was called to Dallas on a mission to find a missing vampire – and she needed to come. See, being a telepath and a vampire’s girlfriend proved useful to the team. The story then begins to unfold where nothing went according to plan and things just got out of hand.

       This to me looks like Sookie’s first official adventure since she started a relationship with Bill. Even at this stage, I still find vampire-human humor effective in creating a “believable” world where Vampires do exist openly with humans. The trouble I had with this book was another concept I wasn’t quite familiar with: the maenad. I had to look it up – although Harris made the picture clear enough, there was too little explanation to go by. Luckily, you can always Google it (or read about it here). I would suggest reading about it first before you open this book. The maenad plays a very important role at the resolution of the conflict in the story – which, by the way, was too unexpected.

       There are also very interesting developments with the characters around our Southern heroine. In her Dallas mission, Sookie discovers and meets a person who is just like her – a telepath. Sam, her boss at Merlot’s, followed her example by “dating” someone far from human. But then again, Sam is not entirely human (read: shape shifter). Eric, Bill’s pseudo-boss in vampire terms seemed to have taken his interest for Sookie to the next level resulting in tension between the two. Most interesting of all was when Sookie witnessed Bill’s rage and the hunting that followed too soon after. That would have been enough for me to call it quits. When your guy isn’t even human and he stops acting like one, how can you stay? These conflicts are strewn across every other page that it’s too hard to ignore. I found it so hard to understand that Sookie can’t leave Bill despite the horrible things he has done. But then it’s these mysteries that keep you reading because you want to understand.

             Being with Sookie on this bloody mess and beyond was another look into the human capacity for love in spite of it all. If vampires did live among us, I think she would be a very hard person to find. If the first book gave you a preview of how someone falls for a vampire, this one will show how she decided to stay that way.

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Book Review: Charlaine Harris: Dead Until Dark

In Books on February 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

I never read Anne Rice’s vampire series but I’m glad I picked up this particular stack. This is how the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps finds things start to happen when vampires move in – as a newly accepted part of society. The first in the seven-part series, it re-introduced me (I’ve watched True Blood) to the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, and gave me a more intimate look into her personality. In the HBO production, I’ve learned that she can hear people’s thoughts but I didn’t really know what she was thinking at times. Sookie smiles when she’s nervous and you would never have explained that behavior accurately unless you read the book. The plot is seriously heart-breaking, with Sookie’s co-workers, grandmother, uncle, and cat all dying around her.

Be that as it may, Harris does not dwell too long on the heartbreak of these losses, although when she does it is brutally honest and painful. I’d still say this is an interestingly light (and fast) read. I like that a writer doesn’t prove his/her writing competence by using big words. I just had to grasp some of the Louisiana slang by way of context. If it were not for the explicit vampire-human sex and suggestive cover, I’d think 12-year-olds can read this book.

The conclusion was not predictable to me, not until the very last few pages of the book so it does have that page-turner quality. A few surprises along the way distracts you from the main story, but these were interesting (and probably necessary) surprises to build on as the story progresses.

This book is simple, [not so clean] fun – an easy and entertaining read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks vampires need to pay taxes if they do come out of hiding and live with us.

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