Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris


Not all that brilliantly written, but the audiobook kept me awake on the long drive home, so I am not complaining. 

Harris's big schtick is the assimilation of vampires into human society (thanks to the development of readily available synthetic blood).  As a result, the vampire-human relations take on shades of civil rights and other culturally relevant issues.  An interesting idea, and though Harris is no wordsmith, she does a decent enough job creating a compelling story, even if it's not terribly well-executed. 

There are a few steamier scenes (possibly more than in later books, since this marks the beginning of Sookie's romantic involvement with vampires), but there's plenty of bloodshed to divert the reader's attention from Sookie's love life.  (Mercifully, the reader only sees Sookie's love life, and not that of other Bon Temps residents--a big difference from the (largely naked) television show.)  The focus of this romantic attention is the rather dull (for a vampire anyway, especially compared to the viking vampire Eric) civil war era vampire Bill, but I suppose that makes him easier to buy as a sort of "gateway drug" for Sookie's entrance into vampire society.  This Sookie is not yet ready for Sheriff Northman. 

There are plot holes, to be sure:  Sookie is "surprised" at Sam's revelation that vampires are truly supernaturally reanimated dead things--as opposed to being merely the victims of a virus--even though she knows vampires are preternaturally strong and have "magical" blood, and she previously saw Bill levitate.  Or Sookie's convenient inability to read the thoughts of the murderer . . . just because.  Still, despite the lackluster writing, Harris knows how to hold her readers' attention.

Fortunately, the audiobook narrator invests Sookie with a vulnerability and naivete that improves the story, and makes her improbable discoveries slightly more believable.

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