Since the new season of True Blood just kicked off on Sunday, I’ve heard a lot of startled “Oh, that show is based on books?! I need to read them!” exclamations. That in mind, I’m not going to do a book review today so much as a SERIES REVIEW. Gasp! Shock! Awe!
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris!
So, okay. Not sure if you want to read the series? Think it’ll spoil the show? It won’t. They are almost becoming two separate entities at this point, some of the storylines are the same and some are not, which is kind of a nice mix. I think Alan Ball, the creator of the HBO Series, has done a really good job of plucking out the plots written by Harris that work best on the screen and letting the others remain bookside.
Let’s face it, not all book-to-television translations work and sometimes it takes an awful lot of doctoring to get them viewer-ready. A lot of times, there are just too many plots and too little time to get it all down. I think the Sookie Stackhouse-to-True Blood series translation is a fantastic blend, though. And hey! That’s just this Book Nerdist’s opinion, that doesn’t mean I’m right.
Okay, let’s start at the beginning! I’m just going to give a brief description of the books, not a thorough review of each one because that would take for freakin’ EVER. There are ten books so far and here they are, chronologically!
Or Southern Vampire Mysteries novel, if you want to get technical. In this book, we meet Sookie Stackhouse, a Merlotte’s waitress in a small Louisiana town called Bon Temps. She’s pretty typical, blond and pretty, but she never dates. Why? Well, it’s hard to get out on the town when you can hear every dirty thought pouring from your date’s brain, right? That’s Sookie’s disability: she can read minds. But not everbody’s! Now that the Japanese have perfected synthetic blood and vampires are “out of the coffin,” Sookie finally meets a man without those pesky brainwaves. Bill Compton, who, of course, is a vampire! Shortly after he arrives, the murders start and they’re getting increasingly close to home for our Sookie. Who’s to blame? Her womanizing brother, Jason? The vampire Bill? Or maybe even Sookie’s boss, the man with an odd secret, Sam Merlotte? It’s up to Sookie to find out before she’s next. Yikes!
Living Dead in Dallas, book two.
Sookie and Vampire Bill are doing pretty well together. The Vampire Sheriff, Eric Northman, is developing a keen interest in the telepath, though. When he dispatches Sookie to Dallas to locate a missing vampire, she finds herself tangled up in a whole new kind of mess, learning more secrets than she probably ever wanted to.
Bill goes missing! Sookie sets out to find her wayward boyfriend and ends up meeting a hunky werewolf (yeah, vampires and werewolves in this series too, whatcha gonna do…) named Alcide. He comes from a well respected family, himself, and we get a peek into some were-people politics. And she thought vampires were complicated? After discovering her vampire boyfriend has betrayed her, Sookie’s not exactly sure WHAT to think anymore.
Eric Northman? Eric who? Sookie discovers the vampire Sheriff of Area 5 running bare-chested down her road in the middle of the night and he has no idea how he got there. He also has no idea who he is. Despite her distaste for the powerful vampire, Sookie takes him into her home to protect him from a group of really dark bitches. I mean, witches! Oh and then her brother, Jason, goes missing too.
Somebody’s killing the local shifters. (Oh! Yeah! Hey, everbody who’s not a werewolf is called a ‘shifter’ by the way.) That’s no good! Considering who Sookie’s shifter friends are, she hopes one of them isn’t next. Poor Sookie gets inserted into werewolf politics, which are even more disturbing than vampire politics, and fingers start pointing in her direction about one of the murders.
When you pick this book up, you feel like you missed something. That’s because you did. There’s a short story that’s supposed to be read between books five and six, it can be found in A Touch of Dead, a short stories collection. Sookie goes to close up her dead ex-vampire cousin Hadley’s estate in New Orleans. She meets a new friend there named Amelia who just so happens to be a witch. We also get to know Quinn, a big bald man who turns into a tiger sometimes. It’s here that we learn the real reason for Bill’s betrayal in the previous books. What a dick.
Hey, a Vampire Summit! That’s exciting! It’s even more exciting when dead bodies start piling up and Sookie finds herself smack in the middle of a whole mess of vampire politics and drama. Sookie spends a little time with her hunky beau, Quinn, but ends up being “blood bound” to another hunky beau.
Helping the Vampire Queen of Louisana isn’t the best course of action for Sookie, but she does it anyway. Of course, she ends up targeted for murder oh and great! There’s a werewolf war a-brewin’! Things couldn’t get much worse and then, somehow, they get much weirder instead. Sookie learns some uh, interesting(? Yeah, interesting!) secrets from her family’s past.
Remember those shifters? They “come out of the closet” in this book and not everybody takes it very well. (Sam’s mom gets shot by her husband, for instance.) Bon Temps hasn’t been the quietest of places lately but after a shifter woman, who happens to be Sookie’s sister-in-law, is found dead outside of Merlotte’s — well. It’s not good. On top of all that, there’s a new King of Louisiana and despite Eric’s best efforts, the King is awfully interested in Sookie. Not to mention the otherworldly problems that Sookie’s having outside of this tangle. The book is really chocked full of plots and things that can’t be put neatly into a brief description. Lots to read here, a Faerie War starts and people die… yeah. I said it. Faerie.
Well, things have really calmed down. Sort of. Sookie’s survived the war in the former book, but she’s lost too many people and we get a sense of bone-weariness from our heroine. She’s settled into a comfortable relationship with Eric and hopes for things to get better. They don’t. Why does it seem like EVERYBODY is having family drama these days? Sheesh.
So that’s Sookie Stackhouse for you, in a nutshell! I enjoyed the books, myself. They’re not for everyone and they kind of border on the very periphery of my literary taste — but hey — sometimes? You just need a good, mindless read to get you through the day.
Happy reading, nerdlings!
Images: Ace Books, HBO