Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

It is almost embarrassing to review this book.   Not what I'd call great literature, by a long shot.  I got sucked into reading the entire Sookie Stackhouse series last summer after I got hooked on watching True Blood (which I find infinitely superior to the books).  It's like a bag of potato chips -- I can't eat just one.

I give Charlaine Harris credit for writing a series that makes me want to read every book, no matter how ridiculous the plots and how annoying the characters have become. But the writing is honestly not good.  I think Harris believes that endless descriptions of Sookie's outfits and personal hygiene counts as good writing (I reeeallly don't need to know what nightshirt she's wearing today, or the fact that she shaved her legs.  Too. Much. Information!!)

And speaking of too much information, I think the books are just getting jammed with too many plots and too many characters.  Not every single character has to be in every single book.  Every subsequent book keeps adding plot and characters, and so much time is spent explaining backstory, that there's no time for the story to move forward.  It's the tenth in the series, and we already have vampires, werewolves, telepaths, shape-shifters, and now fairies;  also politics, wars between supernaturals, history, new babies, and Sookie's distant cousins that have come a-calling.  Seriously, how much can Harris cram into one 311-page volume?  I got through book 10 but afterward my head was spinning.  Each season of the TV series, which has already digressed significantly from the books, is broken up into several weeks, so it's somehow easier to digest.  Plus the writing is so much better, there's absolutely no comparison. [And Alexander Skarsgard, below.  Just sayin'].

I do realize this is a light fluffy read, and I shouldn't expect too much. I've already suspended disbelief with this story about vampires and other supernaturals who have come out of the closet, so to speak.  But the junk food analogy got me thinking:  this series is sort of like a a banana split at an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet.  It started out nicely with some ice cream, fruit, syrup, and whipped cream.  But now there's waaaaay too much stuff on top -- there are so many sprinkles, gummi bears, chopped nuts, M&Ms, and cookie crumbles that I can't remember what's on the bottom.  It's just a huge gooey mishmash, and I forgot what the point was.  I'll probably keep reading the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I'll feel a little sick to my stomach afterwards.


  1. I admit, I tried to read these last summer and didn't make it past page 5 of the first one. Then again, vampires scare the bejeezus out of me!

  2. I'm really surprised that I like the TV series. Normally I'm not into any kind of horror. I never would have read the books if it wasn't for the series. Dracula's a pretty good book though, so don't be put off by it.

  3. I had started reading these and enjoyed the first two, but hated the third one. I gave them up after that. I think we all need a light fluffy read now and then though. I liked your analogy of the sundae. I think a lot of series fall into that trap. It's interesting that you like the show better. I had decided to read the books first, and then when I stopped reading them I never started watching the show, but maybe I'll start.

  4. Lindsey, the show is so much better! It's still campy but there's some great stuff. And they've made some significant changes to the story. It's loosely tied to the books but not slavish. Some of the characters are great -- they've kept Lafayette who is my favorite.


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