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Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

January 20th, 2011

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Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out....Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't such a bright idea.


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Science Fiction Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out....Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't such a bright idea.
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  1. A. CLARK
    January 21st, 2011 at 19:15 | #1

    Rating

    First of all, apologies to all of you who are huge fans of this series of books. I’m sure you’ll hate this review, but remember, this is just one person’s opinion.

    I was drawn to this series due to all of the press it’s been receiving lately, and also because I’m up for a good, escapist vampire novel now and then. I actually bought the whole box set when it came out recently, but am putting my review here (instead of with the boxed set) because I didn’t even get past this first book.

    The book did not hold my interest at all, and believe me, I tried to like it. I’ve been attempting to figure out what the problem is. It’s not the setting; I was born in Louisiana, so the setting was one of the attractions of the book. It’s not the overall, view-from-30,000-feet story; that was fine. So what was it?

    I’d have to say it was more structural than anything else, for lack of a better word. I found Ms. Harris’ writing to be on par with what an average ninth grader might produce. The characters, even the main ones, were a bit on the superficial side and weren’t really fully developed. The plot details were quite boring, not engaging at all. The love scenes were a bit cringe-worthy, reminiscent of scenes from poorly executed smut novels (i.e. just as with smut novels, these parts struck me as nothing more than a fantasy on the part of the author).

    Overall, the simple fact that I found the book disappointing *IS* the most disappointing part. That is, if I hadn’t had such high hopes, it wouldn’t be such a let down. The story and characters had oodles of potential.

  2. HoneyTiger
    January 22nd, 2011 at 06:56 | #2

    Rating

    I am an avid reader and when I ran out of my usual fare of Sci Fi, fantasy and Laurell K. Hamilton (people can only write so fast, you know), I went looking for something new to read. Out of all the other stuff out there I decided that Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse sounded least boring and bought her two books. One thing I have to say first to anyone who does the same. Charlaine Harris is NOT Laurell K. Hamilton and I don’t think she wants to be. Sookie is NOT Anita and I don’t think she was intended to be. Once you get that straight in your head, you can sit back and enjoy a fun couple of books. Ms. Harris’ characters are developing (so did Ms. Hamilton’s as everyone should remember! Reread Guilty Pleasures if you’ve forgotten) and I hope they will become stronger as time goes on. Book two is already a little better than book one. Except for her “disability” to hear thoughts, Sookie is just your typical young girl waiting tables at a bar – she’s no powerhouse cop or “bonded” with a vampire although she is in love with one. And except for tossing in the fact that Sam is a werewolf (where is she going with that? and why bother?), the books are pretty much just slow-paced murder mysteries with vampires in them. Not scary, a little down-homey, a touch funny sometimes, but also just a nice book to read on a rainy weekend. It doesn’t disappoint if you don’t expect anything except Sookie Stackhouse and HER world. Oh, and lose the cover art – those covers are for children’s books, not adult murder mysteries.

  3. Anna Cat
    January 22nd, 2011 at 09:50 | #3

    Rating

    I’ve started reading the Sookie Stackhouse books and have found them to be my guilty pleasure. I enjoy the characters and the world they’re set in, but there are just too many logic flaws for my continued enjoyment. It started in me in the first book, when Sookie is being stalked by a serial killer. Her friends all know about her predicament, but seem alright with letting her babysit. I’ve met plenty of stupid people in my life, but non dumb enough to leave their kids with a woman who is admittedly being stalked by a murder. Also, in the third book, she learns that werewolves or shape shifter can only have one werewolf/shifter child when two mate. This means that the werewolf/shifter population is cut in half each generation, and if they have been around for hundreds, or maybe thousands of years, there should be practically none left at all, yet they’re everywhere in the story. I enjoy the characters and the plot lines, but there are just too many flaws, unexplained foolish decisions by characters, and general inconsistencies with the fictional world they live in to get through to completely enjoy this series. Where as Ann Rice seriously needs an editor to cut, Harris needs an editor to critique.

    Harris also has a vary limited bag of tricks to drive the action forwards. In between times of action or intrigue, there is almost always a sex scene, or description of a rock hard body Sookie wants. The writing is fun, but not crafted well enough to hold the readers attention without this. Some say it’s a blend of several genres, but the romance is lacking, the mystery is full of illogic plots and character motivation, which in turn makes it very hard to suspend disbelief for the fantasy. My recommendation for anyone looking to crack into this series is look elsewhere.

  4. Louise
    January 22nd, 2011 at 17:41 | #4

    Rating

    Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, and the main character is Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress. She is a pretty young girl, but she is not happy. She has a disability, and people often think she is both naive and a little dumb. But Sookie is neither. She can read people’s minds, and in order to keep people’s thoughts out of her head, she has to put up a mental guard every day. This takes so much of her concentration that she often seems slow.

    One night, Sookie serves the vampire Bill a glass of red wine, and she is immediately attracted to him, as she cannot read his thoughts at all.

    Shortly after Sookie and Bill first meet, a murder happen in their quiet little Louisiana-town Bon Temps, where Bill is trying to mainstream, which is vampire-slang for trying to live among humans again. For reasons not to be revealed here, our heroine and our vampire gets involved in solving this murder, and the story starts to get going. Other vampires start to show up, Bill and Sookie tries to date, and Sookie also, for the first time in her life, has men running around her, finding her pretty and desirable.

    Halfway through the story, the characters start to do weird things, and the story get confusing. It is like the author wants to tell too much on too few pages, and it becomes a little hard to follow the storyline, there are a lot of why’s and why not’s. We learn about Sookie’s past, and certain things in her past is unsettling, but absolutely un-neccesary for the story.

    But then the story seems to get onto the right track again, and the rest of the book is a funny and exciting read. It is not the best vampire-mystery ever, but it is definitely a series worth reading, and you will want to see the characters again.

  5. Cherise Everhard
    January 23rd, 2011 at 02:20 | #5

    Rating

    This book has been popping up in my recommended for you list, forever. I read some reviews and the plot summary and thought it sounded good; but not good enough to make me want to buy it immediately. I added it to my wish list where it got ignored for a long time. Every once in awhile it would pop back up in my recommendation list and I would think about ordering it soon. Then another reviewer, Tom Knapp/Rambles (.net), recommended it to me, so I finally decided to see what this book was all about. I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book, I absolutely loved it.

    Sookie Stackhouse looks like a normal, pretty woman. However, she’s a beauty with a special gift that allows her to hear other’s thoughts. Because of this gift, she is looked upon by others with wonder or as some sort of freak. Sookie works as a waitress in the local bar, for a boss who, for some reason, she has trouble reading his thoughts. She doesn’t date, has a Small circle of friends and still lives at home with her Grandma. Then one night she saves the new local vampire from some undesirables and her life changes. Then there are murders happening in this small town; Sookie tries to listen to thoughts to see who the killer is.

    The difference between this book and other vampire books I have read is that the vampires are not in hiding. Everyone knows there are vampires and restaurants are even serving synthetic blood to their local vampires. I thought it was a unique approach, it gave the story a lot more character and depth, and it leaves the possibilities endless. In this small town people are fascinated with the vampire, are afraid of them and some people just see them as another type of person. It was exciting to watch the vampires integrate with ‘normal’ society.

    Sookie and her vampire, Bill, turn out to be a charming couple. In a lot of ways he is the stereotypical vampire; he is blood thirsty, really pale, cold and extremely strong. Then the writer creates an atypical side to this vampire, he longs to be part of a town and home and he is surprisingly tender and loving with Sookie, her friends and family.

    The supporting characters are just as captivating as Sookie and Bill. One of the more surprising and clever parts of the story is the identity of a vampire bodyguard that is hired by Bill to watch over Sookie. I can’t say anymore as I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I laughed and laughed, and I am not quite certain if it isn’t true! If this was a brand new book, there would be no doubt that a sequel was coming. The author leaves us looking forward to hearing more about Sookie, Bill and the rest of the crew. I can’t think of any part of the story that didn’t work or flow for me. It was an enjoyable and entertaining read and I am getting the rest of the books in the series, ASAP.

  6. –corinne–
    January 25th, 2011 at 16:58 | #6

    Rating

    Charlaine Harris offers up an original and fun vampire novel with ‘Dead Until Dark’.
    Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a small contemporary Louisiana town, has led her life trying to protect herself from “her disability”– a telepathic skill so acute she finds it difficult to block out the thoughts of those around her.
    One night when a vampire named Bill enters the bar Sookie is immediately drawn him. He’s set apart from people just like she is and she’s delighted to discover she can’t overhear his thoughts at all. He likewise is surprised he cannot hypnotize her with his power. They find themselves in the awkward position of meeting on almost equal ground. When citizens of the town start showing up murdered, Sookie enlists Bill’s help.
    The style of ‘Dead Until Dark’ really reminds me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. ‘Dead Until Dark’ is a first person narrative and takes place in an area where everybody knows each other. Sookie also has a grandma who’s a character. Sookie is, well, kind of goofy. Her talent for hiding her telepathy is about as great as Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum’s skill as a bounty hunter.
    Bill is rather a “thinking” comtemplative vampire, similar to Anne Rice’s Louis, except he accepts himself for what he is. He doesn’t reveal much of his past which, no doubt, will unwrap in later installments.
    Charlaine Harris portrays the vampire world to be as violent as that portrayed by Laurell K. Hamilton. However, Sookie Stackhouse is no Anita Blake. The novel does slow somewhat in the middle and wraps up rather peremptorily. However, ‘Dead Until Dark’ is an engaging take on ‘life with vampires’ and has consistent style. And Sookie is a fun character.
    I look forward to Sookie & Bill developing more as characters in future installments and seeing their relationship grow.

  7. KateChopin
    January 26th, 2011 at 01:25 | #7

    Rating

    Dead until Dark has potential but as other reviewers have pointed, the writing is poorly thought out and sloppy. The characters are flat and boring and toward the end, I really didn’t care what happened to them. Interesting elements are mentioned once and never developed ( Sino-Aids for instance ) but stupid stuff like what characters are wearing go on for pages.

    Also, I was appalled by the lack of positive female characters in the book. Beside the grandma, who gets offed pretty quick, the entire book was populated by loose cheap uneducated women. I’m sure the South isn’t full of sex craved waitresses, but in Harris’ world, all women seem to be of “low skill jobs, no college, bottom of the barrel”. This is actually a quote from one of the characters, but I feel it’s one of the most honest sentiments in this vapid book.

    And all the sex ( thoughts about sex, sex talk, vampire sex, sex sex sex) gets tedious. It felt like the book was written by a horny teenager.

    And the murder mystery which appears to be thrown in for those readers who want an undeveloped plot point when they get bored of the sex? It’s stupid. The murderer is a random character that you would never guess, but not in a good whodunit way, but in a ” What? You barely mentioned this character, writer!” way.

    I don’t recommend the book at all.

  8. ICIBIU
    January 28th, 2011 at 23:41 | #8

    Rating

    I cannot for the life of me understand why this book has so many positive reviews. Admittedly, I only got about half way through the book before I decided to stop wasting my time, but unless Charlaine used a ghostwriter for the second half I don’t see how it would have gotten any better. The characters were very poorly developed and as far as I could tell the only reason Sookie was attracted to Bill was because she couldn’t read his mind.

    The characters reactions to some of the events were very unbelievable (SPOILER ALERT) for example Sookie, Jason & Grandma are all having lunch and gossiping about the goings on in town then all of a sudden Jason remembers that Maudette Pickins was murdered that morning, they talk about it for a minute then continue eating their lunch and chatting about other stuff. Now I’m no small town girl but I would imagine that if you live in a small town and someone you know is murdered that it 1)Is the first topic of conversation 2) is the ONLY topic of conversation.

    It’s easy to see why Alan Ball chose this book to turn into a TV series. The characters were underdeveloped so he had plenty of room to flesh them out and make them his own. Also all the little plot lines (and there are TONS of them in the book) that the author dreamed up but was too lazy to actually go in depth with were easy to embellish upon and make each into a separate episode.

    All in all I think the author had some great ideas but was too unfocused or just plain lazy to actually turn them into anything. Most times when you watch a film translation of a book there is so much detail missing butin this case it was the opposite watching the HBO version first and then reading the book I felt almost as if I was reading an outline for the script of the show. The basic plot lines are there but all of the details and emotions are missing.

  9. M. Ray
    January 29th, 2011 at 07:04 | #9

    Rating

    Let me first say I love good, light reading. I don’t need classical writing or serious topics…I love a good girly book. I even devoured the Twilight series which many feel was poorly written. However, I could hardly get through this book. The character development was lacking as I never felt like I knew any of the characters thoroughly. In addition, I just never connected with Sookie as she seems to be emotionally scatterbrained. She likes Sam, then she likes Bill, then she likes neither, then she likes Bill, then Sam, rinse, repeat. Fickleness is fine in concept, but her feelings are never really explained so you have almost no idea where she’s coming from. The plot line jumped around quite a bit as well, and in and in the end I felt this was a bit like reading something written by a 10th grade English student. Not that I could do better, mind you, but I’m not a published author.

    I really wanted to like this book, truly I did. I even took it with me for a cross-Atlantic flight, excited to indulge in hours of uninterrupted reading. Unfortunately, this book make me longingly look at the Sky Mall magazine and wonder if it wouldn’t be more interesting. Was that a Snuggie I saw? :)

  10. Fred Wiehe
    January 30th, 2011 at 07:40 | #10

    Rating

    Sookie Stackhouse has what she calls a “disability.” She’s a telepath. Now reading minds sounds like it might be a good thing, but as she points out it sort of gets in the way of relationships, sexual relationships in particularly. It’s hard for her to have sex and enjoy it when she knows the man she’s with thinks her breasts are too small or maybe he’s thinking of someone else. Besides, other people’s thoughts bombarding her all day drive her crazy. She works as a waitress in a bar and comes in contact with many people on a daily basis. So for her own sanity, and because she thinks it rude to listen in, she’s learn to block out the noise from the minds of others. Then Bill comes into her life. He’s the perfect boyfriend because she can’t read his thoughts at all. That’s because he has a disability of his own. He’s dead. He’s a vampire. Vampires have recently come out of the closet so to speak and exposed their existence to the world. All of this came about because of the creation of synthetic blood, making it possible for them to exist without preying on unwilling humans. They are the new minority and now wish to coexist with humans. Of course, the vampires-like any minority-have those who hate them. But they also have those who admire and adore them as well. These people are called fang-bangers. Three female fang-bangers suddenly turn up dead, murdered, and the vampires are quickly blamed. Fear fuels the fires of hatred and violence erupts between the humans and the undead. This puts Bill at risk. Also, Sookie fears that she’s next on the murderer’s list since she has a vampire boyfriend. So, with Bill’s help, she uses her “disability” to solve the mystery, and in the process she puts her own life on the line.
    This is an extraordinary and original book; full of charm and wit, capturing small-town America to a T. Harris blends together several genres-horror, mystery, and a bit of Gothic romance-with ease and aplomb. She has a straight forward, just between you and me kind of style that’s fun and easy to read. One minute she’s making you laugh, the next she’s sending chills along your spine, and the next she’s got you wondering who done it. This book will entertain and keep you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend it.

  11. Susan Shedd
    January 31st, 2011 at 16:23 | #11

    Rating

    sorry, that was bad! I am a big Charlaine Harris fan and only mildly interested in vampires. But the combination of a an uncontrollably mind-reading heroine, newly legal vampires, a serial killer, a shape-shifter — how could I resist? I find I don’t want to say much at all about the plot, as it’s too easy to give away some really exciting twists. It’s fair to say that the story postulates vampires as a newly-emerged legal minority (word is they’ve been victimized by superstition, when really the poor people have been subjected to a terrible virus) with attendant vampire-philics and phobics roiling the waters of cultural change. Vampires can now subsist on artificial blood, so they don’t have to be a danger to anyone. Harris has thought through vampire culture and the interaction of that culture with “normal” society to great effect — the book would be fun to read just for that .

    I have to admit, though, that nothing about the vampires interested me as much as the main character, Sookie. If you think you want to be able to know what other people are thinking, the limitations of Sookie’s life will make you think again. She’s brave, brilliant and decent and watching her (and her sex life) develop is a true joy.

    Meanwhile, the book is tightly and extravagantly plotted and the psychological effects are fascinating and disturbing, absolutely gripping. Read it over a weekend or on vacation so you won’t have to put it down — you’ll just have to know what happens next!

    Harris has set this up to continue as a series, and if she can continue this level of quality, people will be lining up for each new book.

  12. K. Maxwell
    January 31st, 2011 at 21:38 | #12

    Rating

    Sookie Stackhouse lives in a world like ours – except for one difference, 4 years ago Vampires “came out of the coffin” and are now a legal part of USA society. In this way it’s somewhat like the situation in the Anita Blake (author Laurel Hamilton) novels, but in someways I think better written in this book.

    Sookie herself is unusual with a disability that makes dating a virtual impossiblity until a vampire comes to town and she discovers he’s her (almost) perfect man. Unfortunatley, at the same time people start getting killed, which most of the locals see as an unlikely co-incidence, and in a small town that can almost be deadly itself.

    The author has written a very readable book here. I’m not sure if it’s the start of a series or not – if it’s not – then it’s still an enjoyable stand alone novel. Her characters are believable and likeable, and I don’t remember any slow patches that make your attention wander. In fact, I read this in a day – the sign of a very good book for me.

    For those people who like fiction that covers, vampires, PSI, alternative realities or mystery fiction, this book pretty well covers all those areas. Enjoy:)

  13. Kathryn J. Lizee
    February 1st, 2011 at 03:42 | #13

    Rating

    I ordered “Dead Until Dark” [....] I got my books in today and because of the very well done jacket cover, found myself pulling it from the pile first. The premise sounded very interesting and atypical of vampire fiction.

    I was hooked from the first page and read this book in one sitting. I devoured it (tongue in cheek!)

    The 411: Sookie is this waitress in some small town near N’awlins. In this world, which appears to be in the present tense, or not so distant and not too futuristic time, vampires have “come out of the coffin.” They’re protected legally, though, still treated by many/most as monsters, predators, fiends. Some of the vampires live up to this rep. There are some characters in this book that will make your skin shiver. Others, like the vampire Bill (I’m still laughing at his name. Even Sookie comments on its incongruousness with the glamour associated with vampirism.) ..like Bill, are merely trying to “mainstream” ….live in a human world, at least, after dark.

    Sookie is a bit different herself. She has major telepathic abilities. She can hear what folks think. This has been a major deterrant for her meeting and maintaining relationships with guys. Till she meets Bill. For some reason, with Bill, she can’t hear his thoughts.

    How does she meet Bill? Well, apparently, in this society, there is a black market for vampire blood. Vampires are caught and “drained.” Vampire blood is reported to make folks heal miracurously, and/or increase sexual power. Sort of Viagra and the founting of Youth and an All cure rolled into one.

    For some, though, drinking vampire blood makes them crazy.

    However, this was not a focal point of this book. I thought it might be but it just served as an interesting bit of plot. That’s the thing I enjoyed about this book. The author took great care in giving us reasons for everything. In a world that is hard to imagine, she made it easier by bringing its reality to terms we could understand/relate to.

    Anyway, Sookie meets Bill by saving his life from two “drainers.” When the drainers come to retaliate and nearly kill Sookie, Bill saves her. (Bill..I love it!) Thus begins their relationship. It’s rocky, and very disturbing in some points, not easy and certainly questionable. There is also this matter of these murders that keep popping up all over town. Who did it~ is the question on everyone’s mind, and Sookie will help…

    There are SOOOOOOOOO many wonderful secondary characters. Sam, for instance, Sookie’s boss. And Eric, the oldest vampire that Bill knows, who sends sookie flowers that look like vaginas. I got the feeling that there will be another book in this series, because the stories to tell here.

    There is humor..lots of it. I was laughing out loud. There was violence, so strong I physically cringed. The sensuality level is pretty intense too, as is the awful humanity in this book as well. We all are, in some ways, monsters.

    Anyway, there is so much to say here. I can’t say enough great things about this book. I am not someone who reads alot of vampiric fiction, but I drank this one in with relish (and a side of toast!) It’s really good stuff.

  14. Philip
    February 1st, 2011 at 11:04 | #14

    Rating

    Charlaine Harris writes a remarkably entertaining mystery that shows Louisiana as a hot bed of people with “gifts” of many sorts. Sookie the telepathic cocktail-waitress; her boyfriend Bill the Vampire; and Sookie’s boss Sam who has quite a surprise of his own!

    When a young woman turns up strangled, and fang marks shows that she had been fed upon in the not so distant pass, suspicions abound in the tiny town of Bon Temps. And when another victim is found murdered with a similar MO, the long arm of the law starts to rech out towards Sookie’s brother who apparently has been having “relations” with both.

    Plot twists abound, and the characterizations are wonderful. A fun read that I can highly recommend.

  15. T. Persson
    February 2nd, 2011 at 22:46 | #15

    Rating

    This is the second Charlaine Harris book I have read and will be the last. I tried the first Aurora Teagarden book and now the first Sookie Stackhouse and found that Aurora and Sookie are basically the same unpleasant person. From this I have to conclude I won’t like any other female lead created by this author.

    I sincerely hope that these characters are not representative of southern women. They are both extremely vain, selfish, gratingly coquettish, simpering and shallow. Both describe themselves “sexually inexperienced” yet sex is all they think about, albeit in a 1940′s junior high-school sort of way. Both women also hold the attitude that “pretty women” get dates, describe themselves as pretty, but don’t date very much. But, since neither is given to any introspection they never question their views or conceit.

    There are so many problems with this book that I truly can’t believe its popularity.

    Sookie describes people who sleep with vampires as Fang-Bangers (a term I find in very poor taste) yet when she sleeps with a vampire its Love.

    In one section Sookie says she doesn’t know much about vampires even something so basic as where they sleep. Then in a later scene she is cautioning Bill not to feed from a man with Sino Aids, giving a very specific exposition of what can and can’t make a vampire ill and then saying Sino AIDS can make a vampire sick – for a whole month (oh my!).

    Sookie thinks it only makes sense that Bill doesn’t know how to rewire his house because he is so old. But, wouldn’t being older and living through the switch from candles and wood fires to electricity give him more knowledge rather than less?

    Sookie doesn’t feel she has the right to warn off people flirting with Bill when he takes her to a vampire bar (at her insistence) because she asked him rather than he asking her. Its not a date until the man asks the woman. Then in other sections Sookie makes comments about how old-fashioned Bill is.

    Sookie describes the contents of Bill’s refrigerator as “yuck” since it is all blood. This is after she has willingly let him feed from her many times had his blood on more than one occasion.

    Then there is the whole Vampire Virus thing. She still believes in this after Bill tells her that if it vampirism is due to a virus it is a very discriminating one. And another time Bill describes in detail how a vampire is made, and nothing about a virus is mentioned. It doesn’t even seem to sink in after Sam tells her straight out that Bill is dead.

    In another scene Sookie makes a mental note that she has been using the Lord’s name in vain alot with the nuance that she should stop doing so. But repeated instances of necrophiliac fornication don’t cause her any worry.

    At one point she even refers to vampirism as a religion.

    I like cozy mysteries and the writing doesn’t have to be genius level, but I can’t tolerate stupid. Trust me, contrary to Sookie Stackhouse’s denials she is stupid, the writing style childish and the story on the whole insipid.

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