Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dead Reckoning, by Charlaine Harris



Another chaotic and disorganized assortment of plotlines--including a fair amount of recycled material and a rather depressing lack of character continuity.  Someone named Pelt is trying to kill Sookie!  Again!  The portal to Faery that Niall closed in Dead and Gone isn't really closed!  Eric's boss continues to be a threat!  Eric continues to be lame!  Sookie's telepathic nephew Hunter makes a brief appearance for no discernible reason! Tara is having twins! Sookie, having apparently forgotten her previous discussions with Niall in From Dead to Worse, "discovers" that her grandmother cheated on her grandfather with a half-fairy!  Sookie also discovers a magic compact that grants wishes!  Eric's dead maker promised him as husband to the vampire queen of Oklahoma!  Sookie breaks the blood bond with Eric--will she still love him (and vice versa)?  Alcide tries to seduce Sookie (again)!  Faeries are gathering for unspecified reasons!  Everyone has the hots for Sookie!  There are no unattractive people in Bon Temps, Monroe, or Shreveport!  (Unless you count members of the police force.)  Bubba is back! 

In addition to all the plot noise, there are some disturbingly uncharacteristic moments.  After breaking the blood bond with Eric, everyone goes on and on about how important it is that no one be told about it, because Sookie is much more vulnerable without the bond alerting Eric to any threats.  Not that this stops Amelia--who knows what's the what from their previous adventures--from running off to a werewolf bar to tell Alcide that Sookie is up for grabs and then bringing him back to Sookie's house (!) and letting him into her bedroom (!!) where he undresses (!!!), gets into her bed (!!!!), and hamhandedly tries to seduce her.  Sookie is of course incensed, and proceeds to (rightly) rake down all involved in this ridiculous and inappropriate situation.  However, her admonishment to Amelia--who just blabbed her newly vulnerable state to God only knows how many people--is based only on her "interference" with and "manipulation" of Sookie's love life.  There is no mention of the huge danger resulting from Amelia's carelessness.  That whole sequence was just beyond implausible.  And the idea that it was all part of Jannalyn's plot to "get" Sookie by . . . well, it's not exactly clear how this affect Sookie other than by annoying her.  As plots go, it's rather ineffective and nonsensical.  Much like this book.

And why is Amelia even around, you ask?  After all, she moved back to New Orleans, right?  Right, except that Sookie asks her to come check on the wards protecting the house. Which she does.  And then Sookie's half-fairy uncle Dermot promptly dismantles them so he can rebuild stronger wards . . . as soon as he finishes sanding the attic.  Which activity is (of course) interrupted by would-be kidnappers (apparently hired by newly released psycho Sandra Pelt, even though Sandra knows full well that the house is protected by wards and had no reason to expect that the wards would be gone when her kidnappers arrived). 

We know this because Sandra comes into Merlotte's and straight up tells Sookie that the wards are preventing her from accessing the house, and adds that a) she firebombed the bar, and b) she paid dudes to kidnap Sookie.  Sookie later tells another character that she's "sure" Sandra a) firebombed the bar and b) paid dudes to kidnap Sookie.  But she says it in such a way that it sounds like she's defending a hunch instead of repeating Sandra Pelt's actual confession.  Oh, Sookie. 

Speaking of our fearless heroine, she is once more vacillating between becoming more and more inured to death and violence and periodically reacting with horror and disgust.  At times she even plans the violence--as with the rather simplistic and surprisingly easy assassination of Eric's annoying boss.  (Meanwhile, at this point in the series, describing violent scenes as "the worst thing Sookie's ever seen" just seems like cheating.  Plus it's highly unlikely.)  But least Sookie admits the inconsistency of her reactions. 

And she is not the only character with inconsistencies.  The once snarky and clever Eric is all angst and impotence in this book, and the once stolid and humorless Bill seems to have found his inner Eric.  It's almost enough to tempt an unwary reader to wish that Sookie would renew her romance with Bill . . . until the reader remembers how utterly boring they were together.  And with Alcide being such a twat and Quinn still MIA, I find myself wishing Sookie would just get together with Sam and be done with it all.

I confess I will probably keep reading, because, well, there are only two more books to go, the narrator does a good job, and they're not unpleasant books to listen to.  Even if they don't make much sense.

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