October 28, 2009

Rabid Reads for Halloween: "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Books (media tie-tin), a division of Penguin Books (2008); originally published by Penguin (2001)
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery
Pages: 292
ISBN 978-0-441-01699-0

I can't recall at the moment if I signed up for a book blog reading challenge in which participants had to read all currently published Sookie Stackhouse novels by the time the newest one hits store shelves sometime in 2010. I saw it posted in the summer, I know that much, and is part of the reason why I've been waiting all summer to sit down and read the first book in the series. That, and people said, "If you liked Twilight, you'll love Sookie." And, the response to the HBO series it inspired, True Blood, has been very positive.

I guess I wasn't the only one looking for this book because I had to wait months in a library queue before I could get my hands on it. And now that I've read it, if I did sign up for that reading challenge, I don't think I'm going to see it through.

Now don't get me wrong. I liked this book, though it took a few chapters to get into the swing of things.

The story's told through the eyes of Sookie Stackhouse, a small-town waitress in Louisiana with little by way of a social life thanks to her troublesome ability to read people's thoughts. Then she meets one guy who rolls into town whose mind she can't read. She falls for the guy even though he's a vampire named Bill.

While the quirky love story is carrying on--one I found so much more endurable than that of Twilight's lovebirds--there is also a rash of murders happening in the area. People are dropping like flies, and it looks more and more to the townsfolk that it could be Bill. The whole "we don't take kindly to your kind" vibe is prevalent throughout the story. And Vampire Bill's past is coming back to haunt both him and Sookie, as vampires become more and more visible.

Charlaine Harris did a darned good job in joining a mystery with a romance with a fantasy. I'd love to get a look at her pitch line, because the premise just sounds so far out of left field, agents and editors probably did a double-take. That being said, when I finished the story I didn't find myself itching to read the second novel, Living Dead in Dallas. Overall, the story is good with a strong start and a good finish, but I thought the middle kind of dragged a bit. It wasn't slow or lacking action--like I said, plenty of people get killed or at least bitten--but I felt the story lost a little focus on which genre it wanted to be. While she writes it all well enough, I felt the crossed genres conflicted some ... or that's just my personal prejudice rearing its head.

I will say that folks who do love Twilight and haven't read this probably should, as it has a better pace (i.e., faster) and the characters feel more three-dimensional, as does the setting. Personally, I'm not swearing off the series, as I really did like the Sookie character, but it will probably be a while before I get around to it. The idea that there are six or seven more books out there in this series to be read, and likely more on the way, it almost seems daunting to a cat like me who isn't as emotionally invested as others.

Another place to read a review for this book, one I keep on my blogroll, can be found here: Melissa's Bookshelf. Plus there are reviews at Today's Adventure and Ink and Paper.


  1. Nice review. I agree with your comment on the book having a tough time deciding what genre it wants to be. It was almost disorienting at times.

    And thanks for the mention!

  2. Yup, if it had gone one way or the other, I probably would have liked it a whole lot more.

    As for the mention ... don't mention it. :)