Dead to the World: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

Charlaine Harris, 2004, 291 pgs.
Book 4 in a series of 10

Well, I finally gave it a try. I am an avid “True Blood” fan (the HBO series based on these books, now in its third season), so I wanted to see how the books and the TV show go together. I opted for the 4th book in the series because I didn’t want to start at the start.

An overall enjoyable book, and a very fast read. Most of the regular characters are here—especially vampire Eric, who, in this book, has lost his memory because of a witch’s curse, and happens to stay in Sookie’s house, where they have lots of sex. These sections are straight up romance novel, and I did not enjoy the hokey “romantic” prose (“If there were an international butt competition, Eric would win, hands down” and “I wish I could save orgasms in a jar”). The prose in general is completely gee-whiz—“my eyes watered, as they so often did when I thought of Bill—Weeping Willa, that was me.”—which makes Sookie of the books much less sophisticated and desirable than the Sookie on TV. Also, Fangtasia, the vampire bar, is in a strip mall next to a Toys ‘R Us, and at one point, Sookie and her werewolf friend Alcide have coffee in an Applebees.

Crystal Norris, the werepanther from “inbred” Hotshot that Jason is falling for in season three of True Blood, is in this book. Kenya, the black female cop, is dating a white man named Jason—not in the TV series. But Lafayette is nowhere to be found—I have heard he is killed off early in the books, which is a crying shame, because he is one of my all-time favorite characters on TV. Also, Tara seems to be white in the book, and prissily fashion-conscious. What??

Conclusion? Alan Ball does a much better job with this series’ characters and setting—it is definitely “inspired by” the books, rather than grafted from them. His sets are darker, starker, sexier. His dialogue is much more adult. Sookie has dropped her homey witticisms but one of her spunk or intelligence. He has make Tara and Lafayette much more prominent characters, and much more bad-ass. If I could not have visualized the actors from the HBO series while reading this, I would not have stuck with the reading.

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