Monday, July 6, 2009

Torn between two vampires: a book review of 'Dead and Gone' by Charlaine Harris

From Kansas City Literature Examiner --

Torn between two vampires: a book review of 'Dead and Gone' by Charlaine Harris --

June 2, 2009 --

By Lisa Westerfield --

‘Dead and Gone’ is the 9th book in the Charlaine Harris series known as the ‘Sookie Stackhouse Novels.’ Most people know Sookie and her vampires from the HBO show, ‘True Blood’ which is a brand name of the synthetic blood that has allowed the vampires to, as Harris describes, “come out of the coffin.” Of course all of it is an allegory about the acceptance of all people despite their differences…even those that need to suck blood (I don’t recall if Harris has ever referred to her vamps as hemoglobin challenged).
Harris has lucked upon a winning combination with Sookie and all of her supernatural suitors which not only include two hunky vampires but in the past a werewolf, a werepanther, a weretiger, and a shape shifter who also doubles as her boss. Sookie herself can read the minds of others and until the vampires revealed themselves as real, she always thought of her telepathic ability as an affliction – one until the last book, ‘From Dead to Worse,’ she didn’t realize she had inherited from her grandfather who was half fairy. If you aren’t familiar with the book or television series all of the above sounds like gibberish but Harris has been able to weave all of it into a very likeable tale which since ‘True Blood’ debuted has shot her into the ranks of Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling and Stephen King and into direct comparison/competition with Stephenie Meyer and her ‘Twilight’ series. In fact it is rather difficult to judge ‘Dead and Gone’ on its own accord without taking into consideration that it is really just a chapter in a larger tale along with which Harris has shown sparks of inspiration as well as inconsistency with the span of certain characters and at some points sloppy writing.

Although the Sookie series was probably fairly well known within vampire fandom it has really exploded in the sense of recent pop culture. In early autumn of 2008 when ‘True Blood’ premiered on HBO the ratings steadily climbed and it became the most successful HBO series since ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘The Sopranos’ which apparently was not anticipated by the book publishers who were pushing other Harris mysteries and were appeared to be blindsided by the sudden demand of the Stackhouse books. Of course now they have rectified the situation and one can spot paperback versions of the Stackhouse novels at any store that sells books, along with a big display featuring the hardcover version of ‘Dead and Gone.’

As far as ‘Dead and Gone’ goes, I don’t know if I would recommend the book if a reader hasn’t read previous books in the sequence, I would however recommend the series. Despite the before mentioned flaws, the books have made for lively reading and Stackhouse, her family, and friends have provided diverting plots. I think Harris has done a fine job in building Sookie’s world with each new book and ‘Dead and Gone’ is a better effort than some of the other books when it comes to staying true to elements presented in earlier stories. With the popularity of the books and television series, this endeavor of Harris’s seemed to have a direction as if Harris knows eventually in what course she wants to take the series whereas in previous books I thought she might be writing down the first thing that popped into her mind. I wonder if I was the only fan annoyed by the ‘Word of the Day’ calendar references?

Overall, I had fun reading ‘Dead and Gone’ and would highly recommend the series for anyone who likes the fantasy romance genre. Oh, and no, if you are already a fan, I’m not even going to hint if Sookie chooses Eric over Bill…over that sparkly vampire that Robert Pattinson played in that movie, you know which one I mean so don’t pretend you don’t.

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