Book 26: Dead And Gone, Charlaine Harris

13Aug09

Based on my pseudo-review of the previous several books in the Southern Vampire series, you know that I’ve been on a Sookie Stackhouse binge the past few weeks. I’ve really enjoyed these books, and this most recent one was almost equally as enjoyable as the previous entries, though I have a few quibbles with it.

*spoilers follow, so don’t read this if you don’t want to know*

In the last novel, there were a number of things left unresolved: Sookie’s not talking to her brother Jason, basically because he’s an unmitigated jackass. She’s got Bill pining for her, and is bonded to Eric (I know who I would choose out of those two, and it’s definitely the Viking). There’s a new monarch of Louisiana, and she has no idea where she fits in the current scheme of things. She is, however, owed favors by both the local werewolf pack and by previously mentioned new monarch. For such a “simple” girl, she really has gotten up to an awful lot of supernatural shit over the course of the series. Oh, and? She just found out that she’s part fairy as well.

This is the part where Charlaine started to lose me, just the tiniest bit. I can suspend disbelief for an awful lot, especially when I’m reading, but this is starting to smack of ridiculousness. I can handle some ridiculousness, but… I don’t know. It took me out of the story for a bit when it was revealed that Sookie is part fairy. And it seemed like ret-conning when this was all tied to her family and her past as neatly as it was.

None of the unresolved issues themselves are too much of a problem for me. I don’t mind that sort of thing in a series; in fact it throws me when a character seems to exist solely in whatever book they happen to be, with no holdovers or concerns about previous stories. That’s too static for me. I don’t really get a huge sense of an overarching plan where Sookie is concerned, however. Like I said, it seemed like ret-conning when the fairies were tied to just about every family member’s death that Sookie has ever had to deal with. I don’t get the sense that Charlaine Harris has much planned ahead here, like I do with, say, Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden. (On the other hand, I’ve not gone looking for information on the continuing series in this case as I have with the Dresden Files. Because quite honestly I don’t care nearly as much about this series as I do about the Dresden Files. [Only about ten more months til the next book!])

However, and this is a pretty big however: this novel really felt like filler to me. I kept waiting for the plot to happen, and it never quite materialized. Sure, lots of events occur, but it never felt like there was any sort of central theme or premise that had to be fulfilled—Sookie just ran around worrying about being attacked by fairies and trying to figure out her great-grandfather for about four hundred pages. None of those unresolved issues were really tied up except the thing with the fairies. There wasn’t really any forward motion, character- or story-arc wise.

So, the catalyst for everything here is that Jason’s cheating bitch of a wife gets killed and crucified in the parking lot of Merlotte’s shortly after the weres of the world have their own coming out party. Jason is, as per usual, suspected of the murder—but when is he not? Since Sookie is a loyal sister, despite Jason being a selfish asshole, she decides she has to clear his name. Yet again.

Then she finds out there’s a fairy war brewing, and the enemies of her great-grandfather are coming to get her. A whole bunch of things happen both to and around Sookie, none of which are really all that important. And the resolution to both solutions was a little too neat and tidy and yet still somehow came out of left field.
And then she gets tortured and the book is over. I mean… wha…?

Despite the complaints, I really did enjoy the novel. I just would’ve enjoyed it more had there been more to it. Had it not felt like a placeholder for (hopefully) the next book, where all kinds of shit (hopefully) hits the fan. Or something. And really, as long as Sookie doesn’t turn into Anita Blake anytime soon, and maintains her humanity and her vulnerability, I won’t be complaining much more than this. Promise.

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