Friday, September 2, 2011

Week 32: Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

I borrowed this book from a friend, not really knowing much about the television series, True Blood, that it spawned. I knew that it had to do with vampires, and because of that, I was a tiny bit apprehensive about reading this. But let me tell you, it did not take long for me to get over it, because I really enjoyed this book! It such a fun read. The gloriously-named main character, Sookie Stackhouse, is a young woman living in Northern Louisiana. She lives with her elderly grandmother and makes a living waiting tables at a local diner. The story takes place in a time in which vampires are acknowledged members of society. Nowadays, they feed on synthetic blood, as opposed to killing people, but they still struggle against the prejudices and disdain of humans (this could be an allegory for a few different sociological groups facing similar struggles in our society today). Sookie meets a vampire named Bill, and she soon saves his life when she finds him in the hands of malicious people who are trying to drain his blood. (Vampire blood is quite rejuvenating for humans, and therefore, in high demand on the black market.) Once Sookie saves him, Bill is indebted to her, and the two become friends. Sookie learns that vampires are not that different from humans, although through Bill, she does meet some other shady vampires. Their relationship blossoms and they begin a romantic affair, but it seems that simultaneously, a number of murders are breaking out in their small town. Sookie must defend Bill from the masses as the tries to get to the bottom of the crimes that are turning their lives upside down. Sookie is a great character. She’s funny, and she’s independent and tough, but also kindhearted. The whole novel is steeped in a Southern flavor that is a delight to read. The dialogue is peppered with regional slang. It’s entertaining to read how Sookie and Bill’s relationship progresses just like a “normal” relationship between a man and a woman. The author gets it and is able to convey it onto to the page. In other words, it’s not just a vampire story – it has engaging characters that will make you smile and want to keep reading.

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