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Dead Until Dark

I jumped on the bandwagon with this one, but I don’t think I will continue with Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse vampire series after reading Dead Until Dark. When I heard that Alan Ball had a new series out based on Charlaine Harris’s books, I wanted to read the source material first before I became prejudiced from seeing what Ball makes of the novels. I was sore that I saw the first season of Dexter before reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter and think I would have appreciated the novel more if I didn’t picture Michael C. Hall’s face all the time while reading.

Harris has some clever ideas going on in her book. Sookie is psychic and can read almost anybody’s thoughts until a vampire steps into her bar one night. Quickly the waitress gets involved with him, finding him a worthy lover since she can’t picture his thoughts of her undressing, how he regards her butt, and so on. There is an Elvis-like character who is introduced, explaining all the Elvis sightings in the world, and all of the vampires in the world have “come out.” Many try to incorporate themselves in regular society but struggle with day-to-day domestic woes that are especially troublesome since the vampires cannot appear in daylight, when most chores are done.

Along with the fresh ideas are plenty of stale ones. When Sookie gets involved with her vampire Bill, they have orgiastic sex with plenty of bloodletting that bottoms out into vampire porn. After three successive chapters of this, I almost dropped the book. The murder mystery that makes up the story line of this novel is rather predictable, and of course, the vampires are darkly glamorous–there’s not really an ugly one in the lot, unless you count Elvis who didn’t “turn” right.

I realize that the vampire books I prefer play against the darkly glamorous type of vampire. Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire comes to mind with tender-hearted Louis and the child vampire Claudia going to the Old World to seek out the origins of their kind and finding zombielike vampires rather than intelligent creatures. And then there’s Stephen King’s Our Town-style Salem’s Lot, where the plain folks become vampires. My favorite couple in that book is the town garbageman who takes up with the high school glamour puss Ruthie after making her undead.

I’d like to see more of these abnormal vampires. Somebody really corpulent from the Renaissance who must deal with body issues as fashions change or maybe a vampire with a cleft palate. That would be a brilliant plot device right there, just dealing with how this vampire gets his or her blood with such a deformity.

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