I am alive!
I know you were worried; to be honest, so was I. A six-day bender with two friends/former Marines in town for Fleet Week meant not only was I not getting the enough reading done—about 12 collective pages last week—but there were moments when I thought not enough brain cells would survive for me to ever read again. At least not anything outside of Goosebumps.
To add insult to injury, said friends were staying in my apartment which, as I’ve mentioned, is fairly covered in unread books, many of which interested said friends and spawned conversations that made me stare longingly at my bookshelf and wish I were curled up with a novel instead of arguing with bouncers in the Meatpacking District over the merits of jorts as a fashion statement (I am decidedly in favor; they, not so much.) Long story short, my brief sojourn into the life of an actually sociable person was exciting, but I see myself at no point in the immediate future becoming the kind of girl who changes bars as often as I currently change positions on the couch.
Fortunately for us all, this week’s book was…let us just say, not so much a challenge. I mean, what does one say about the Southern Vampire Mysteries—(they’re called the Southern Vampire Mysteries, for fuck’s sake)—the 11-and-counting titles upon which HBO’s True Blood is based. They’re vapid and simplistic and, only a hop, skip and a jump away from erotica. They take the intellectual capacity of a 9-year-old to read, or dog of above-average intelligence. They’re repetitive—about 25% of each book is devoted to retelling the events of the book before—and undeveloped. Oh, and they’re prettay prettay good.
See, I’ve always been partial to reading the books upon which movies or TV shows are based (exceptions: Lord of the Rings, Marley & Me, anything by Nicholas Sparks) and this can often mean getting in it for the long haul: There are four Twilight books, seven Harry Potter books, five Dexter books, 13 Gossip Girl books (excluding spin-off The Carlyles), and so on. But as you may or may not have discerned, I have limited standards when it comes to entertainment; sit me in an empty room with a lowbrow literature series and I’m fine. Thrilled even, so long as there’s candy.
Which brings me to Dead Reckoning, the 11th in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Now, fans of True Blood should close their ears, since even though the show is somewhere around Book 4, I can’t promise that I won’t inadvertently spoil some plot points. (Snape kills Dumbledore.) For instance, by Book 11 Eric and Sookie are no longer paining us with their thinly veiled sexual tension, but have instead progressed to being an official couple, whose sex scenes I feel uncomfortable reading on the train. Bill is more or less out of the picture, Jason has a girlfriend we never really meet, Sam is dating a fellow shifter, Tara is pregnant with Hoyt’s twin babies and Sookie herself is still reeling from the revelation that her grandmother (the since-murdered Adele) spent the better part of her younger days banging a fairy (yes, fairy) on the side, resulting in Sookie herself being part fairy, a species (?) that is irresistible to vampires (side note: at the very least, this lends some credibility to the idea that literally every male Sookie encounters seems to fall in love with her, even though she’s quite clearly a simpleton).
Anywho, the long and short of the book is that Sookie must figure out a way to help Eric defeat a king’s hand who is vying for his sheriffdom, while also learning more about her fairy background and playing damsel in distress to all manner of random-ass people/creatures intent on killing her. Honestly by Book 11, Charlaine Harris has the structure pretty down: explain previous book’s plot; plop in some scenes of Sookie cleaning her house, tanning, working, or reading minds; add in wild sex scene (or 3); insert conflict; advance plotting/scheming to resolve said conflict; round it out with an exceedingly violent fight and end with Sookie saying something like “Gosh durnit, everybody just keeps killin’ each utha!” Annnd scene. Dead Reckoning is no different, just switch out the enemies and figure out which of the semi-permanent character Harris decides to kill off to make it seem like she’s actually still thinking about plot development. The end. Another book down.
I’m making the Stackhouse books sound horrible because from a literary perspective, they are. But they’re also compelling, just as any moderately decent storyline that involves sex and violence is. They’re fast-paced and fun and stupid and escapist, and I see no harm in spending a few hours reading 300 pages of nonsense; at least no more harm than there is in watching three simultaneous seasons of the Real Housewives (which I am also doing). If you’re looking for some mindless fun, you may want pick up the first book; trust me, by mid-June you’ll be right where I am, 11 deep and entirely prepared to buy the next one in hardcover, even if this one was only moderately entertaining. But if you prefer the sleek look of True Blood (though we’ll see how HBO handles such sleekness when they have to add in witches and fairies and werepanthers), stick with the show. Because it’s definitely a little more fun to look at Eric than to read about him.
TITLE: Dead Reckoning
AUTHOR: Charlaine Harris
PAGES: 325 (in hardcover)
ALSO WROTE: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas
SORTA LIKE: Twilight meets Xena Warrior Princess
FIRST LINE: “The attic had been kept locked until the day after my grandmother died.”