Monday, February 25, 2013

Reviews - Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas

The second week of 13 weeks of Sookie is over, and while I am on schedule with my reading, I still haven't posted a review of the first book, Dead Until Dark. Shame on me. Although, in my defense, I don't have a whole lot to add since this first book so completely embodies everything I said about the series in general in my previous post. But I will give a few thoughts and also go ahead and review book 2, Living Dead in Dallas.

Dead Until Dark
Format: epub ebook
5 stars
In Dead Until Dark, we are introduced to crazy Sookie Stackhouse, a barmaid in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, who has what she considers to be an unusual disability. She also longs to meet a vampire, a real possibility since they "came out of the coffin" after the invention of synthetic blood. So she is surprised and pleased when one shows up sitting in her section of Merlotte's, the local Bon Temps bar where she works. Shortly thereafter she saves him, then he saves her, and the love affair begins. Throw in the mysterious murders that Sookie's brother Jason is accused of committing and Sookie's use of her "disability" to discover the truth and what ensues is pure, hair-raising reading fun. And fun it definitely is - at times a little scary (but not gory or scary enough to qualify as horror), at times sensuous, and at times just plain laugh-out-loud funny.

I love Sookie as a heroine. She is the perfect balance of pretty and smart, but at the same time is rather sheltered and naive. And she is not unrealistically beautiful and rich. In fact, as a barmaid, she is actually on the lower end of the income scale and is living with her grandmother in their old family home. Her grandmother is a true Southern woman, and does her best to bring Sookie up to be one as well. To people living in other parts of the country, the book may seem a little exaggerated, but trust me, this is how small town life in the South really is. Even the Descendants of the Glorious Dead club that Adele is a member of reminds me of The Daughters of the Confederacy which my own mother and grandmother were members of. That's another thing I like about this book - Harris has a way of being true to the South while at the same time presenting it in a humorous way. And I think I mentioned before that I also enjoy Harris's treatment of vampires. She keeps some of the traditional ideas about vampirism and mixes them with some new ideas, one of my favorite being that the vampires are trying to "mainstream."

Living Dead in Dallas
Format: epub ebook
5 stars
Living Dead in Dallas is the second book in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series. In this book, we still have Sookie as the main character and narrator, but we begin to learn more about some of the other characters as well, especially Sookie's vampire boyfriend, Bill. We also get to see more of Eric Northman, who is one of my favorite characters in the series, and we see some of the other "supes" in Sookie's expanding world. Like the first book, there is a mysterious murder that Sookie tries to solve by using her disability (but that Bill says is a gift). She also travels to the big city to help the Dallas vampires find a missing nest-mate. While there, she encounters religious fanatics of the worst kind. In the books, these people will stop at nothing to rid the world of vampires, but like a lot of other things in Harris's books they have parallels in the real world. I am sure that there really are people in our society who are willing to go to such extreme lengths for their beliefs. Throughout the series, Harris requires us to contemplate who the real monsters are - supes or humans - and these fanatics seem to be just as bad as the vampires they despise.

Sookie's character continues to evolve in this novel. In the beginning, she is only slightly less naive than she was in the first book. But as this story progresses, she is forced to accept increasingly harder truths about the world and the beings inhabiting it, especially the vampires. She realizes more and more that her relationship with Bill may not be as wonderful as it once seemed, and that life among vampires is a precarious one that should not be taken for granted. She deals with all the challenges as they come, not always with style, but certainly with a sense of humor and love of life. And she is always sure to save plenty of these lessons (and the questions that they bred) to mull over on less eventful days.

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