Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Really most sincerely dead...

Oy, I haven't been in a blogging mood. I haven't been in a reading mood. Not even a reading blogs mood. I've been feeling the old lure of past favorites like Lord of Scoundrels or As You Desire, rather than attemping something new and potentially disappointing.

But I finished something. Finally. Took me awhile, but turned out worthwhile in the end. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris is the sixth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. These books take place in a world where vampires have come out of the closet, so to speak, and society is still adjusting to their existence. Sookie Stackhouse is a barmaid in Northern Louisiana, who has always had difficulties fitting in, due to her telepathy. It makes people umcomfortable, and who wants to date a woman who knows your every thought, good and bad? At the beginning of the series, Sookie is surprised and delighted to find that she can't read vampire's minds. Over the course of the books, Sookie has become increasingly enmeshed in the supernatural world (which also includes various shapeshifters, witches and fairies), as well as attracting an ever widening circle of supernatural suitors.

A few comments first: I love the covers of these books. They have this cool folk-arty feel, and reflect the refreshingly different tone of these books: low key and homey, free of black leather and Goth trappings. There is some angst, but Sookie's the kind of girl who picks herself up and gets back in the race. A confession--I tried reading these books awhile ago, and wasn't really feeling them. So I didn't really get into them until Dead to the World. Accordingly, my comments are skewed, because I couldn't care less about Bill, Sookie's first love, and I like Eric (either in amnesiac or overbearing asshole incarnation).

So anyway, Definitely Dead. There's a whole lot going on in this book, so I'm not going to go crazy with a plot summary. Needless to say, Sookie's got a lot on her plate. There's pain caused by boyfriends past, who keep popping in and out of her life, her brother's having problems, she doesn't like the new waitress at work and Eric the Vampire Sheriff and the Vampire Queen of Louisiana are arguing over who gets Sookie as part of their entourage for the big vampire conference. Oh, and she has to go to New Orleans to settle her Cousin Hadley's estate. Hadley was turned into a vampire and was the Queen's girlfriend to boot. Now, Sookie's getting pressure from the Queen's people to go clean out her place. Quinn, the weretiger from Dead as a Doornail, shows up for a little ego-boosting and romancing, but every time they go out on a date, they get attacked by werewolves. And I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out.

Yep, a lot of stuff happens. Even so, this book started off very slowly for me. Once Sookie headed to New Orleans, things really picked up and I didn't want to put it down. We learn more about the supernatural world, and some spoileriffic secrets about Sookie and Bill Compton. There was a lot going on, and it all got wrapped up a bit neatly but satisfyingly. Harris quite ruthlessly thinned the herd of possible partners for Sookie--Out: werewolf Alcide (hopefully), werepanther Calvin Norris (I'm probably the only one, but I found him quite charming, though that whole Hotshot scene was weird. I had hopes for him as a dark horse), and SPOILER!! Vampire Bill (though they've still got a lot to work out, he's not going away). Still in the running: Shapeshifter Sam Merlotte (dark horse candidate, ain't the sexiest, but a good guy), Vampire Eric (hot, but a dickhead) and Quinn. Not really feeling Quinn. It doesn't help that I have a very clear picture in my head of Billy Zane as Quinn, and I just picture him being this melodramatic, scenery-chewing, masculine yet swishy (he is an event planner) cheeseball. Not a big fan of Billy Zane. Quinn seems too good to be true, and he keeps. calling. Sookie. "Babe." Incessantly. Yucky. There's something strange there.

I get the feeling that Harris was tying up loose ends in order to set the stage for the next act. Sookie began this series as isolated and inexperienced in a number of ways, and this is her journey of coming into her own. I'm hoping that Quinn is just going to be around for awhile to help Sookie gain some self-confidence and grow, so she can be strong and confident enough to deal with Eric down the line (fingers crossed). Though, given some of the shit that happened to her in this book, I hope he doesn't turn out to be evil. Let's give the girl a break. So although this title wasn't as strong as some of the previous ones, Definitely Dead was a good read. Another series, I'd recommend to non-supernatural lovers, or someone looking for something different. Read in order, though. Next one should be the big vampire conference, yay! I love conferences. Lots of uncomfortable Sookie/Bill, Sookie/Eric interactions should abound. I'll be there.