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Book review: <i>Dead Until Dark</i> by Charlaine Harris


the cover of the book

What if Stephenie Meyer wrote down every single minute detail of her character’s day-to-day lives in Twilight, then added a handful of sexy times and the word “groin” into the mix? A hit TV show and lots of horny people falling asleep with their eyes open.

Groin.

Story (or: Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before)

Vampires are no longer “in the dark”, so to speak. With the creation of a synthetic blood they have been able to integrate into society, some easier than others. Sookie Stackhouse had never met a vampire, until one night the mysterious Bill Compton enters the bar where she works. Sookie is instantly taken with the stranger as, unlike every other person she’s ever met, she cannot hear his thoughts. Their budding romance is made all the more complicated when local women with vampire connections start showing up dead.

The good (or: Hellooooooo? Are you in theeeereeee? )

AND

The bad (or: and this is where I type on my keyboard, pressing each letter individually as I convey my opinion for the book which consist of several characters of varying involvement and some other….. what? Sorry? I fell asleep.)

Oh, unorthodox. She’s mixing it up a little, what with the “Good” and “Bad” sections together. Look at her living life on the edge.

No. I’m just finding it far too difficult to find any good aspects of this book worthy of actually writing down. I’ve tried. Oh, Lordy how I’ve tried and I know there must be some; otherwise surely it wouldn’t have been published. The best I could come up with is that it really lends itself to being turned into a dark, sexy HBO TV series. That’s if the show’s writers made the characters likeable and interesting. Harris certainly couldn’t. In fact, she managed to take characters that on paper are complex, dark and appealing and turn them into dull egotists who we’d quite happily see knocked off by the serial killer. Quite the feat, really. Harris is just that good.

However, she’s not the only one to blame for the sheer unreadability of Dead Until Dark. Oh no, the editors are equally to blame for letting all of the superfluous padding get published. I mean, seriously, is it really necessary for the reader to know the four different outfits the main character considered wearing before deciding on one that accentuates her “waspy” waist and ample bosom? REALLY? You’re going to include that in the final edit. Well, while you’re at it, why not make sure there’s a couple of paragraphs devoted entirely to what Sookie does in the shower. Better make sure it doesn’t contain anything that could propel the story along or spark any sort of interest in the character. We really need to know that Sookie shaves her legs AND washes her hair. Here I was imagining her walking around like some sort of junkyard dwelling ape lady.

What I learnt (or: Is that the taste of blood in my mouth? No. It’s bitter, bitter disappointment)

I wanted to like this book. No, I needed to like this book. Something inside me needed this to redeem the “vampire romance” genre after having my brain molested by Twilight. Sadly, as usual, I set myself up for disappointment.

Part of me wishes I’d read this before Twilight turned me bitter against the genre. For those of you that loved Twilight, there are more than enough eerie similarities in this book that will satisfy your hunger for a fresh series to fill the void. They may also make one wonder if maybe Stephenie Meyer was a bit of a Charlaine Harris fan (cue “not that I’m saying any ideas were borrowed” wink).

Harris had a great idea with a great setting and interesting backdrop, however her clunky, overly written style just makes it a pain to read. For those of you who are willing to give it a go, I’ve been told it does get better as the series moves along. I’m just not that much of a masochist.


In short

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Books
ISBN: 0441008534
Year published: 2001
Pages: 260
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, horror
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