Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Category: Adult Fiction
Page Count: 320
Release Date: January 2008
Quick Rating: 4/5
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out 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. Then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type 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. But he is an interesting addition to the town, and Sookie can’t help but listen to what everyone else thinks about Bill…especially since she’s starting to fall for the buff blooksucker. But when a string of murders hits town - along with a gang of truly nasty vampires looking for Bill - Sookie wonders if having an undead boyfriend is such a bright idea.
And when one of her coworkers is killed, Sookie realizes that Bill and his friends may have some specials plans for a woman who can read minds…
First off, I’ll admit, I never would have actually picked up any of the Sookie Stackhouse books if I hadn’t happened to catch one random episode of True Blood. There was this gorgeous, buff werewolf, and I’m such a sucker for werewolves. So, I just had to start reading!
Dead Until Dark is the first in the series, and for me, it’s a little bit of a slow start. I can tell a lot of groundwork is being laid, and I can tell there’s a lot we’re going to learn about vampires in later novels, but it still felt a little slow on the build-up. This book never actually hooked me - as in, I never had that I-can’t-put-it-down feeling. I found I could drop the book in the middle of a sentence and be fine with it. However, one thing that kept me reading way just how conversational the book felt. I felt like I was sitting down with Sookie over coffee and she was telling me an amazing story. I also quite liked the mixing of genres. It’s like a strange paranormal/romance/vampire/detective novel, and I love it! The constant dabbles of humor were wonderful, and the…ah…”romantic” scenes were delightfully steamy without being overtly vulgar. Nothing turns me off a book more than vulgar, uber-descriptive sex scenes.
As for the main characters, I found I liked Sookie in the sense that she was strong and willful, and could obviously take care of herself, but I oftentimes found her a little annoying when it came to Bill and vampires in general. I get the obsessed-with-vampire vibe from her, and I get that they’re fascinating and a new race and all, but when you’re so willing to defend them to your fellow humans, even the unquestionably bad ones, it’s just a little weird. I did like that she was a virgin, instead of some backwater hussy, especially when you compare her to Jason Stackhouse, her brother. As for Bill…well…he kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I found him manipulative and possessive and a little creepy. The love and trust between Bill and Sookie came out of no where for me. I felt it wasn’t developed enough. She loves him because she can’t hear his thoughts? She loves him because he was her first? She loves him because he’s a vampire? None of this was made exactly clear, and I just hope there’s more development on their feelings for one another in later books. For me, it was like Edward from Twilight all over again. I just don’t get these vampire-obsessed girls! There’s perfectly good men right in front of you, and they aren’t undead!
Speaking of perfectly good men, that brings me to secondary characters. Can I just please have a Team Sam button? Hot, owns a bar, is a shape shifter - what more do you need? But besides my love for Sam, I really appreciated how much all the characters, even minors, felt like they had such depth. While it was a lot to keep track of at times, it gave a sense of depth to the book, like these were real people in a real town. Even the other vampires were very well done. I really hope to see more of Eric in the future as well - Viking vampire? Yes please! And I really want to figure out exactly who Bubba really is. I have an idea or two, but I want it said!
As for originality, Charlaine Harris really made her own vampire world, and it’s fantastic! Legal citizens, synthetic blood, hotels just for vampires? Totally unique! I can’t wait to read more and find out more about the whole political aspect to their culture. I also really liked that all the vampires were a little sinister and creepy, even the “good” ones. No pansy vamps to be found in these books.
On a final note, I did feel the main murder plot was very well done. I totally did not figure out who it could be until almost right when Sookie did, and those last few scenes were intense and powerful. I really think the last third of the book was the best.
The Final Word: Slow start, but a lot of potential. The world is unique, and I love the take on legal vampires. Bill is a little creeptastic right now, but we’ll see if he grows on me.
Tea: Something rich and dark! Obviously quite a few black teas would do, but from my own shelf, I would pick Chai Spice Black Tea from Stash premium teas.
*Special Note: I rated the cover so low because I’ve just really, really never been a fan. The covers have made me pass over these books for a couple years, and while it’s totally the wrong thing to do, we all judge books by their covers. I’m a total book-cover junkie. I thought they were juvenile fiction when they first starting coming out, from the cartoon-y art style. :-P