Thursday, July 16, 2009

Review: Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (& Challenge Wrap Up)

"Caucasian vampires should never wear white," the television announcer intoned. [first sentence from Dead and Gone]

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
ACE Fantasy, 2009
Fantasy; 312 pgs

There are times when I wish I could read people's minds. I imagine it would get tiresome after awhile--not to mention the headache! And would I be able to block out the voices and images that flood my mind? I am sure there are some thoughts I would rather not be privy to. No, I don't envy Sookie Stackhouse at all.

Dead and Gone is the 9th book in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire mystery series, featuring Sookie Stackhouse, a Southerner in Bon Temps with the ability to read minds. It's a series filled with supernatural beings, a bit of magic, romance and mystery. Sookie and I have been through a lot together over the years. We have shared laughs, tears, and many frightening experiences. I was with her when she met her first vampire and discovered that the world around her was not the world she'd grown up believing it to be.

In this latest installment of the series, the were-people and shape shifters have decided it is time to announce their existence to the world. The vampires have been more of less integrated into society for quite a while, and the two-natured folk feel the time has come to step outside of the proverbial closet. Their coming out is met with a mixture of fascination, excitement, fear and anger. When the body of a woman, partially shifted into her animal form, is found hanging from a cross in the back of Merlotte's, the bar and grill where Sookie works, it's a sure sign of a hate crime. The real question though is whether the murder took place as a warning to other shape shifters or was it more personal?

As if that wasn't enough, a civil war is brewing between the fairies, and Sookie is right in thick of it. Add to that the inquisitive FBI agents who are breathing down her neck and a rather disturbing turn in her relationship with one of her vampire friends.

Trouble always seems to find Sookie and it does not waste time finding her again in Dead and Gone. She is joined by some of her usual crowd: her brother Jason, whose neck I wasn't quick to want to ring this time around; the ever sexy and confident vampire Eric; Sam, Sookie's charming boss; Amelia, Sookie's witch roommate; ex-boyfriend and vampire Bill Compton; and, of course, a special appearance by none other than the King Bubba himself. And that's just for starters.

I enjoyed Dead and Gone overall. I gobbled it up quite quickly as I often do Harris' books. That said, it left a little something to be desired. I liked the story well enough, but a couple of major scenes fell a little flat for me, especially towards the end. There were also side story lines that I would like to have seen more fully developed. All in all though, it was still a fun novel and a good escape from an otherwise stressful day.

It's been interesting to watch Sookie grow as a character. She isn't quite as innocent as she once was. The series has definitely taken a darker turn with each book. While Dead and Gone is not my favorite book of the series, it will tide me over until I can get my next Sookie fix.

In the meantime, let's get back to supernatural powers we wouldn't mind having. Now telekinesis . . . There's a gift I wouldn't mind having.

Rating: * (Good)

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: 2009 Pub Challenge, Buy One Book and Read It Challenge, & Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Well, what do you know? I have completed my first challenge! Technically, I suppose, it's the second one I have completed, but since I have have yet to prepare a wrap up post for that particular one, it's fair to say this one will end up being tallied as number one. It also happens to be the most recent challenge I joined. What challenge is that, you ask? Why the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge!

When I signed up, I mentioned that it felt like cheating, considering I only had the one book to go. I am now officially caught up with the Southern Vampire mysteries.

The True Blood television show that is based on the series is one of my favorite shows on the air today. Whereas the books are light and somewhat humorous, the television show is edgy and dark (not to mention graphic in terms of violence and sexual content). While the two are very different, they both are deliciously good.

Dead and Gone is the first novel in the series I have read since the start of the television series. It did make the reading experience different for me. The characters in the book blended a bit with the characters in the show. For some, it was important to keep them distinct, however, since their story lines vary so much from page to screen. I have to wonder if my warming to Bill a little in Dead and Gone has something to do with his television persona. I've never been a fan of his in the books before now.

I think my favorite books in the series fall somewhere in the middle. Dead to the World, book four, is at the top of that list. I have not been quite as impressed with the later books in the series, including Dead and Gone, however, I still find the novels entertaining. They're pure brain candy, and who does not need that once in awhile? I will continue to follow Sookie wherever she may go. I enjoy the world Charlaine Harris has created and look forward to seeing what new directions she will take Sookie and I next.

The Books:
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

Many thanks to Beth Fish for hosting this fun challenge!

©2009 Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All rights reserved.


  1. I had only read the first book so far! I need to catch up on this series!

  2. congrats on finishing a challenge (even if you only had one book to do it in, it's still cool :-) ) I haven't even started the series yet. I've got the first two books on Mt. TBR and True Blood season 1 in my Netflix queue, though. And I'm also doing the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge.

  3. Melody - Take your time. You have all year to read the books for the challenge. :-)

    Alisha - I hope you will enjoy the books and the show!

  4. I was pretty tempted to join the Sookie Challenge, but I forced myself to pass. I haven't read any of these books, and I'm sure I would like them. Series scare me in a way though. Big committment!

  5. I had never heard about this series until the challenge. I think I would like to see the True Blood series to get a feel for the story. I haven't read much about vampires before. Probably the only thing was interview with a vampire.

  6. Congrats on finishing the challenge!

  7. Congrats on finishing this challenge. i didn't even start yet and I have all 9 books to read since I am completely new to Sookie :O.

  8. I must be living under a rock because I have never heard of this series. It must be good if there's a whole challenge devoted to it!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  9. I'm participating in this challenge, so I'm glad to see this series is fun. Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

  10. lol-I have a long way to go to catch up to you on this series. I'd better get going on the challenge too!

  11. I didn't realize she had that many books out already in this series! Congrats on finishing your challenge. I keep meaning to go back to this one but you know how it goes. I think I only read 2 or 3 books.

  12. It's interesting that we felt the same way about this one - good but something was missing.

    Thinking about it now, maybe she didn't include enough about the weres when the story was supposed to be about them coming out? Or was it? I got the feeling with the book before this one also that she's giving us several short stories put together to create a full length book.


  13. You've completed the challenge!!! Well done, Wendy!

    I also signed up for this challenge and once I've tackled the more pressing timeline of all other immediate challenges for 2009, I'd get started on this one.

  14. I always hear so many great things about this series, but try as I may, I just can't get into these vampire/supernatural books. I wish I could, because I am sure I am missing out on some great books! My brother even loves the tv show, so there's gotta be something I am missing...

    Congrats on the challenge finish! No matter how small, you still accomplished it! Be proud and enjoy your accomplishment. And who knows, maybe this will just snowball into a bunch more challenges completed.

  15. Yay for completing your first challenge!!!! I bought book #2 and am eagerly looking forward to reading it!!

  16. LOL!! I think you may be the first finisher!! Be sure to check out the prize information -- you want to be eligible for the grand prize next summer! Regardless, your one book and the linkup puts you in the running for the other prizes.

    I hope I am able to complete my own challenge!

  17. That does it Wendy, I'm going to get a couple of the Sookie books. I know you didn't like this one particularly, but you have managed to snare my curiosity. Thanks for the great review. I love the first line of this book anyway. :)

  18. Sandy - I understand. A person can only take on so many challenges, especially there are so many books in the series. Had I not only had the one book to go, I probably would have skipped it too.

    Nicole - The TV show definitely has a different feel than the books do, so keep that in mind when you see it.

    Interview with a Vampire was one of my first vampire books. I really liked that one.

    Kelly - Thank you! It's probably the easiest one I've taken on this year. LOL

    Lilly & Kathy - Thanks, Lily! I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have.

    Anna - It seems to be the in thing right now. I'm sure the television show has had something to do with the series renewed popularity. :-)

    Dar - I'm sure you'll be caught up in no time. :-)

  19. Iliana - She really has written quite a few in the series so far, hasn't she? I hadn't realized it was so many either.

    CJ - You know, I think that was a part of it--not enough weres considering what a big deal their coming out was. I think there were too many things going on and not enough pages to truly do all the story lines justice.

    I remember thinking the book right before this seemed more like a bunch of short stories stuck together to form the novel.

    Alice - Thank you, Alice! :-) Once you get to these, I'm sure you'll fly through them.

    Kristie - Your tastes just lie in different directions, and there is nothing wrong with that. :-)

    Thanks for the encouragement. Finishing this challenge is a step towards success.

    Staci - I hope you enjoy it, Staci!

    Beth - Woohoo! And I have my friend to thank for that. She pushed me into reading Dead and Gone sooner than I had planned. :-)

    Wisteria - Now I'm nervous. LOL If you do give the series a try, Donna, I hope you enjoy it.

  20. Part of me wants to read these, as everyone seems to enjoy them, but another part of me keeps telling me, "No! No more series!" I wonder which one will win :P

  21. Nymeth - I understand. Series books can be quite a commitment.

  22. I am trying not to read too many reviews of this as I haven't started the series yet, but those I have skimmed say this one does not quite live up to the rest of the series so far. I still can't wait to get started though! Congrats on finsihing the challenge already :)

  23. Rhinoa - I understand. And since the books are so interconnected, it makes it hard to read about later books because something might be given away. I hope you enjoy the series!


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