Book Review: Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by: Charlaine Harris

Narrated by: Johanna Parker

I gave this book three out of five stars for its entertainment and the unique characters. As a fan of the HBO television series True Blood, I looked forward to reading the book it was based on and have waited to read them so I would not taint either television or book experience. It was fun to find elements in the book that never made it to the show and discover characters added or altered in the series that were not organic to Harris’s work.

What I liked:

1) The environment. All the little bits of the southern setting enriched the story.  The descriptions of humid heat, pine pollen, the type and conditions of buildings, and the sounds of crickets and frogs were great.

2) The Fantasy. Sookie considers her telepathic ability a “disability”. The Vampire mythology was pretty much the usual but had a unique twist of how Vampires had “come out” and were mainstreaming into society. They drank synthetic blood and the media claimed vampires were victims of a horrible virus that caused allergies to garlic and silver. When Sookie discovers her boss is a shifter she has an epiphany and figures there must be all kinds of myths that were real.

3) The mystery. Having watched the show, I knew who the killer was, but I still enjoyed the suspense of how the killer was revealed.

What I didn’t like:

1) The way in which this book is written. It’s poor technical construction was painful, absolutely painful. I was glad I was listening to this book instead of seeing its poor construction on paper. Harris’s number one crime is her use of adverbs. Harris loves adverbs so much she made one up: “shame-facedly”. I’m still in shock by how this work went to publication with that in its pages. For fun I kept a running list of every adverb used in only the final two chapters of the book:

Alertly

Instantly x 2

Expectantly

Thoughtfully

Thoroughly

Reluctantly

Reproachfully

Drowsily

Finally x 4

Abruptly

Comfortingly

Hopefully x 2

Enthusiastically

Quizzically

Heavily x 4

Cautiously

Doubtfully x 2

Curiously

Firmly x 2

Practically

Sadly x 2

Dreadfully

Slightly

Softly x 2

Shame-facedly

Graciously

Helplessly

Eagerly

Intently

Sloppily

Unexpectedly

Abruptly

Loudly

Sympathetically

Questioningly

Earnestly

Cheerfully

Ghastly

Dutifully

Wryly

Obediently

Obligingly

Vehemently

Carelessly

Hesitantly

Involuntarily

Carefully x 5

2) The connection between Sookie and Bill was lust, there’s very little romance. I can’t tell you what Bill loves about Sookie, besides feeding or having sex with her, he never reveals his attachment. While they shared personal information with one another, Bill’s character was very flat. He tells her how naive she is and later laughs while he tells her how she knows nothing about the world. What a charmer. Sookie’s biggest enchantment with Bill: she can’t read his mind. So yeah, not much love connection there.  The only sex scene that didn’t make me yawn, was the one in the cemetery when she found Bill alive.

3) Clothing and life details. Harris likes to tell you head to toe what every characters wearing. This is useful and fun when some of the eccentric choices of clothing for vampires were described. It seems pointless and strange when Sookie’s bar uniform or lame taste in every other article of her attire is described. I wanted to check the year this book was written when Sookie put a banana clip in her hair. I also did not understand why details about brushing teeth, shaving legs, and use of facial moisturizer were shared on more than one occasion.