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Friday, July 30, 2010

Review of Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

What's with the "Never Before Published"?
I picked up Dead in the Family yesterday from my local library (it had that long of a wait list) and finished it last night. (Only my love for Tim Gunn and Moscato kept me from posting this yesterday).  I love the Sookie Stackhouse books and was really looking forward to this one after some of the revelations at the end of the last novel and the tragedy that Sookie came through.  Sadly, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

If you haven't read any of the series: Spoilers Ahead!

Plot 6/10
Sookie's life is in an uproar.  Everything seems to be changing after her recent injuries during the Fae War.  Bill is still dangerously sick from his poisoning during the fighting and seems to be giving up hope. Her relationship with Eric is growing stronger, but there are still some shaky parts (Does she actually love him, or is it the blood bond? Why didn't he come to rescue her when she needed him? And now vampires from his past have come back, and they aren't the nicest of vamps.). Her friend Amelia moves back to New Orleans and her cousin Claude (the hot, and often rude stripper) comes to move in with her.  She's trying to help her young cousin Hunter harness his telepathic abilities. AND the were community is starting to face legal repercussions from their "coming out."

As you can see from my brief summary, there's a lot going on in this book.  That's the core of my issue: there wasn't one cohesive story. The novel felt more like a collection of subplots.  They were very interesting subplots, especially the one dealing with Eric's origins (which comes the closest to the main plot, I think) and Claude becoming a more likable character.  But the whole book seemed kind of scattered.  It reminded me in a lot of ways of Living Dead in Dallas, which also felt very uneven and scattered.

I also felt that perhaps I need to go and read her collections of short stories.  There were some new characters (or at least ones I didn't remember) that felt they had more back story than was in this novel.

It did, however make me excited for the next book, because so many things are set into motion here.  It is the 10th book in the series, so I can understand how some of the books fill a little bit like filler.  I can imagine it's really hard to come up with so much plot.

Characters 9/10
The characters are one of the the major things I love about the Sookie Stackhouse novels.  They've all grown and changed quite a bit from the first book, and I think it just keeps getting better. 

My one issue was that I feel that Sookie might have recuperated from her torture a little too quickly.  She has definitely taken a darker turn, which I think was necessary, but after the first chapter, it really didn't mention her being jumpy or anything.  I would think almost being killed would have you on edge for quite a while.

I really enjoy what Harris is doing with the Claude character, and I thought the new vamps introduced were very creepy and well drawn.

Writing Style 10/10
I love Harris' writing style: lots of action and humor, with some creepiness along the way.  She's just as good here as any, and it's to her credit that with such an uneven plot, the book still flew by.  

Overall: Thumbs Up (But only if you love the series)
An uneven book that certainly won't win over any new fans (thank goodness the first one wasn't this all over the place).  But not enough to drive me away.

On a side note, I really liked the nod that Harris gave to the HBO series.  At one point, Sookie mentions that Jace Everett's song "Bad Things" comes on the juke box.  Harris knows that a lot of new fans have come to the books through the TV series.  Nice touch.


Miranda Hardy said...

I fell in love with Eric after reading the books. Of course, on the screen, Alcee is the best!

Witless Exposition said...

I'm still only on season two. Eric's my favorite in the book, but I gotta say I'm really disappointed in him in the show. Does the third season get better?

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