Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reviews: All Together Dead and From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

When I first heard that Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series was being turned into a television show, I was skeptical. It would never work, I thought. As time went by, however, my excitement grew and I became more and more curious as to how HBO would handle the show. I convinced my husband that subscribing to HBO for the final season of our favorite show, The Wire, and for the upcoming True Blood series was a good idea. I talked one of my coworkers, a diehard Harry Potter fan, into reading the series and, despite the strain it put on her budget, she didn't hesitate too long before subscribing to HBO either.

My husband and I watch the show faithfully every Sunday, and when I arrive at work every Monday morning, two of my coworkers and I get together to discuss what we thought of that week's episode. True Blood is edgy and fun. I love the spin the television show has added to the series. For those who demand every detail be the same between book and movie, it probably comes as a big disappointment. While some of the details are similar, many others are very different. I haven't been too keen on television's take on vampires in the past and there are certainly some things about True Blood I could offer up a complaint about, but I do enjoy the show. My husband and a coworker who have never read the books have had no problem following the show and are quite smitten with it as well.

The coworker I convinced to read the Southern Vampire Series finally caught up to me in the book series and cajoled and pouted until I agreed to set aside my current reading commitments to read the last two books published in the series. She wanted someone to discuss the books with and did not want to have to hold back for fear of giving away spoilers. And so, it was with great anticipation that I picked up All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris.

Some might think that the television show would harm my reading of the series, inserting the characters from the television show straight into the images of the characters I was reading about. And sure enough, I did hear Anna Paquin’s voice, southern accent and all, as I read the novel narrated by Sookie Stackhouse. I saw Stephen Moyer in the place of Bill. And even Eric took on the look of Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd (the jury is still out on whether I like the casting for this role). Despite that though, my enjoyment of the series has not been compromised in any way. It's been enhanced, if anything. I'm even more excited about the book series (if that is even possible, as it's always been among my favorites).

All Together Dead was an exciting and fun romp with old friends. I hadn't realized just how much I missed them until I began reading the book. Charlaine Harris has created a cast of characters that are memorable and interesting. In this edition of the Southern Vampire Series, Sookie joins the Louisiana contingency of vampires for a summit in Rhodes, Illinois. The vampire queen needs Sookie's expertise, her gift of reading the minds of humans. The queen is not only facing murder charges but also is in a weakened position after the damage to her area caused by Hurricane Katrina and is not sure who she can trust. When the vampire bringing the charges against the queen is murdered, it sets off a chain of events that Sookie finds herself neck deep in. Sookie reunites with fellow mind reader, Barry, and the two join forces to try and find answers as well as to save lives. If that isn't enough, the sparks are flying between Sookie and her new beau, weretiger Quinn, while Eric, the vampire sheriff, struggles with his own feelings for the blond mind reader. All Together Dead was impossible to put down and I had my own little read-a-thon as I raced to the end to find out what would happen next.

I was so entranced in Sookie Stackhouse’s world that I jumped right into the next book of the series, From Dead to Worse. Sookie finds herself in the middle a were war, a vampire coup, and a completely unexpected family discovery. With her boyfriend, Quinn, missing, an old enemy in town, and her brother’s marriage on the rocks, Sookie is feeling rather desperate. Thank goodness for her shape shifting boss, Sam, and her roommate, Amelia, the witch. From Dead to Worse seemed to be a bringing together of the series, reminiscing of past events and tying up loose ends while adding to the story lines here and there. The novel read more like a series of short stories, with the main story arc was much more personal and internal this time around.

It has been interesting to see Sookie grow over the course of the series. She led a relatively simple life when Dead Until Dark opened. In the eighth book of the series, Sookie has come into her own. Her life is much more complex and dangerous. Whereas so much in the world seemed so black and white once upon a time, Sookie finds herself straddling the line more and more. There are many more shades of gray than she ever could have imagined.

The Southern Vampire Series continues to be one of my favorites. The characters grow even more interesting with each book and the stories are intriguing. Charlaine Harris had yet to let me down.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
ACE, 2007
Fantasy; 323 pgs
Rating: * (Very Good)

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
ACE, 2008
Fantasy; 359 pgs
Rating: * (Very Good)

Check out the author's website for more information about her books.

15 comments:

  1. Vampire stories! I like! I'm going to put these books into my wish list. Thanks for the great review, Wendy. It's so nice to have someone to discuss them with you too. I'd love to do that with my friends, too, but looks like I may need to cajol and persuade a lot. LOL.

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  2. Great post, Wendy!
    I haven't read her series yet, but I think I've one of her books in my pile. Looks like I've to move this book up on my reading list. ;)

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  3. I keep meaning to pick these up, but I always hesitate. I'm not sure why. I think you've got me convinced to take the plunge (when Mt. TBR has become a wee bit more surmountable). :-)

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  4. I'm really loving the show and it's making me want to go and re-read all the books again lol! My biggest complaint about the show is the vampire's fangs. They look like funny toothpicks! I doubt I'll ever think of the TV characters when reading the books though. Eric is my absolute favorite vampire in any of the current series and I'm not too wild about that Alexander guy.

    From Dead to Worse & All Together Dead

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  5. I can't believe I haven't read these, guess I need to fit them into my budget. But, anything with vampires is right up my alley, and I do love the show!

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  6. This is my first time to your blog. I'm new to the book blogging community. You have a great way of writing a review. I would love to read this series just because of your enthusiastic tone. We don't get HBO here so I don't even have a chance to see the series :(
    Have a great week.

    Wyn
    http://wynsbooks.blogspot.com

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  7. I haven't read any in this series yet, but really really want to! They sound so great!

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  8. I haven't read From Dead to Worse yet, but I really like the rest of the series. I wish we got HBO, but can't justify it just for one show.

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  9. Wendy, annother post, you do not have to follow allthe rules, they are to time consuming for many, just enjoy your award and send it on if you wish

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  10. Since, Mrs. Harris is a Mississippian and has relatives all over this area, I also reviewed some of her books in 2006 for the newspapers. I promoted the HBO series that year, then the writer's strike, then the next year, and had a ton of people sign-up for the cable b/c they loved Sookie. Boy was I red when I watched the first episode with all the nudity and sex. I should have known, HBO, right!?! My dentist made a comment, some faculty hubby's wanted to know why they were paying for this garbage, blah-blah-blah...

    I thought the show drug just a little in the beginning, but now everybody seems happy. :D

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  11. Alice - It is a fun series. I hope you will give them a try! I'm working on converting another lady at work, hoping she'll take to the series as well. :-)

    Melody - Do give Charlaine Harris a try. She's one of my favorite authors.

    Lana - I know what you mean about Mt. TBR! If you do give the series a try, I hope you will enjoy it.

    Jen - I've been thinking the same thing about wanting to reread the series again. You are right about the fangs. The TV Eric just doesn't fit my picture of the book Eric.

    Tracee - Then you must read this series. :-) The books are a bit less serious than the TV show, just so you know. And since the books are in first person from Sookie's perspective, you only get her side of the story.

    Wyn - Thank you for stopping in! Thank you too for the compliment. I am sure the show will make it to DVD. Perhaps you can catch it then. :-) Then you won't have to wait each week for a new episode like I do now.

    April - It is a fun series. I hope you get the chance to read it.

    Lisa - I'm glad my coworker pressured me into catching up with the series. It was so nice to revisit Sookie and her friends.

    Sylvie - Thank you so much for the award!

    Maggie - LOL Yes, that first episode did come as a bit of a shock at first. Like you, I reminded myself that it was on HBO.

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  12. I've only read the 1st one in this series but I really enjoyed it. I have the next 2 here but haven't picked them up yet. Great review!

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  13. Samantha - Thank you! It is a good series. I hope you enjoy the two in the series you have.

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  14. I have only seen the first three episodes when I was in the States on holiday and am hooked already (I signed up on Amazon to be notified when the dvd comes out). This series is very high on my list for next year and I think it was reading your blog that I first heard of Harris.

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  15. Rhinoa - Tonight's the last episode so hopefully that means it will be coming to DVD soon! I'm definitely going to pick it up myself. I can't wait for the next season.

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