Monday, June 7, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

“Dead Until Dark” is the first book in Charlaine Harris's vampire series “The Southern Vampire Mysteries”; also known as the Sookie Stackhouse novels. As you probably have guessed, the books follow the adventures of the character Sookie Stackhouse, a young telepath who worked as a waitress in the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Much like the Anita Blake books, Sookie’s world has an alternate history where vampires coexists side-by-side with humans. In “Dead Until Dark”, a vampire, Bill Compton, takes up residence in Bon Temps and Sookie begins a romance with him after discovering that she cannot read the vampire’s mind. With normal humans, Sookie had to constantly restrain herself from reading the thoughts of others but Bill is silent to her.

After saving Bill from 2 vampire drainers on his first visit, Sookie was attacked by vampire drainers the every next night. Bill returns the favor by killing the drainers and shared his blood with the injured Sookie, creating a blood bond between the two. As the two get closer, other residents of Bon Temps are introduced, including Sookie’s grandmother, Adele Stackhouse, and her older brother, Jason. When a series of murders occurred in town, Jason became the main suspect and Sookie asked for Bill’s help in clearing his name.

To investigate some of the victims, Bill took her to a vampire bar called Fangtasia in the nearby city of Shreveport. Owned by a powerful vampire named Eric Northman, Eric discovered Sookie’s telepathic powers and answered Sookie’s questions in return for her help in discovering who has been stealing from his bar. Sookie finds out that another vampire by the name of Long Shadow has been stealing the money and she was attacked by the vampire immediately. Eric killed Long Shadow but not before some of the Long Shadow’s blood entered Sookie.

Once back in Bon Temps, Sookie finds her grandmother Adele is the latest victim of the serial killer. Later she discovered her granduncle was also killed, this time by Bill who arranged for his death after discovering he had molested Sookie as a child. Scared at how cold-blooded Bill could be, Sookie has second thoughts about the relationship while Bill had to leave town for work. While Bill is gone, Sookie was attacked by the serial killer who she discovers is Jason's friend Rene Lenier. With her telepathic powers and blood from 2 vampires in her system, Sookie managed to capture Rene but was badly injured in the effort.

Yes, yes; I admit I only got interested in the books after watching “True Blood” on HBO which was based on the books. Reading the books, I found that “Dead Until Dark” was an easy, almost breezy, read and was very different from the TV series.

The character of Sookie Stackhouse is very good and the world she lived in was very well thought-out. Like I said earlier, it is similar to other series but there is enough originality and difference to let it stand on its own. Making Sookie a telepath was a good move as the pros and cons of her powers are interesting and it made her a much more interesting character.

Personally I prefer books and movies where vampires are big, bad, and nasty and in this I am mixed on "Dead Until Dark". Although capable of violence, the vampires in the world are more interested in making good with the public and as they are legal citizens, they are also subjected to the same laws as normal humans. This sort of takes away a mystic about the vampires. I mean its just no fun reading about how Sookie’s knowledge about the vampires came mostly from the news on television.

Still the book was good. The characters of Bon Temps especially were well thought-out and the world was believable. Overall, this was a good book. If you want an unchallenging page-turner, "Dead Until Dark" could be the book for you.

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