Review: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse # 1)

Charlaine Harris: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse # 1) (Gollancz 2009).

So I’ve watched the three first seasons of the TV series True Blood based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels before picking up one of the books. This is not always a great idea. If you read a book and then watch the movie/tv series based on it, then you think about whether the right actors were cast for the various parts. But if you watch the movie or tv series first, then you hear the actors talking when reading their lines – you read the descriptions of the characters but you don’t take them in because you already know how they look. So my book starred Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell and Alexander Skarsgård. It’s kind of weird reading a book where you hear the lines spoken by a particular actor – it makes it hard to judge the book on it’s own merits. It makes it hard to separate my thoughts about the tv series from my thoughts about the book.
This is the first novel in the series – the one, the first season of the series is based upon. In this, we are introduced to the main group of characters: Sookie, her brother Jason, her boss Sam, her vampire on-off boyfriend Bill and some other vampires, particularly Eric and Pam. This is in a parallel version of this reality where vampires have just become accepted but it’s still a new thing when one turns up in Bon Temps. Sookie is a telepathic waitress who has a hard time not listening in on everybody’s thoughts so she’s happy to meet a person whose thoughts she can’t hear – but being the girlfriend of a vampire is not an easy ride.
In addition to all the issues between them, caused by their very different standpoints and lifestyles, Sookie gets involved in the vampire community and has to help when the leader of the local vampires, Eric, commands.
And as if this wasn’t enough, young single women start getting killed – all of them with bite marks on their thighs. But when the bite marks are shown to be old, the suspicion instead focuses itself on Sookie’s brother Jason.
About half way through the book I stopped hearing the actors from the tv show saying the lines and just read the book – and although the plot in season 1 of the show is pretty similar to this one, I still enjoyed reading it and got caught up in the story. And some parts of the plot has been changed for the series – so it’s fun to have Bill say a line in this book that Eric says in season 3 of the tv show. Tara didn’t appear in this book either so even though you have watched the show, the book offers something different.
Of course, this is just light entertainment. There’s nothing profound about this – if you’ve seen the show, you pretty much know what you’re going to get, just a bit less sex in the book. I’m picking up the next book as well – if nothing else, it’s definitely faster to read the books than to wait for the tv show to air.
Oh – and Bubba! I loved that small part of the book where Bubba appears and you find out who he is … and why he is as he is. Not going to spoil it though. Bubba has left the building.

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