Dead until dark – Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark is the first of the series of books that inspired the TBO series True Blood. It has that whole Vampire thing going for it with the tall dark handsome stranger who would gladly kill for you added into the mix.

It’s an original idea, I can see the appeal that the book may have had pre-TV Series and Twilight.

Synopsis

Sookie Stackhouse is just a plain ol little small town waitress, but in her reality the Japanese invented a perfect blood substitute, which means that blood is no longer a scarce resource and also, that Vampires can live freely among humans without the necessity to feed off them. So it’s modern day America and Vampires are the new minority group, fighting for civil liberties and the right to live ordinary lives without prejudice.

Sookie’s little corner of the world has kind of been Vampire-free. She’s the local freak. She can read minds. Everyone knows but no one will admit it and actually she’s quite ashamed and tries to repress this ability as much as possible. Then Vampire Bill arrives, and with all of his southern gentlemanliness (and the added bonus that she can’t read his mind), sweeps her off her feet. But there is trouble afoot! The small town is suddenly plagued with murders and little Sookie finds herself slap bang in the middle of a horror story. Is her Vampire her knight in shining armour… or a dangerous fiend? Dum dum dum…


Thoughts on Dead Until Dark vs True Blood
Believe it or not, in this book vs TV adaptation, the TV version wins hands down.

The book is the first season of the series but due to being told in the first person, is stuck with the main plot. I always justified watching the series by telling people “But look, it knows it’s ridiculous, it’s making fun of itself. It’s satirical.”

The same can not, sadly, be said for the book.

Harris makes vague attempts at drawing a parallel between the way Vampires are treated and the way other minority groups are treated. In the Sookie Stackhouse world, dating a Vampire is akin to being in a mixed race relationship. There are those who are supportive, but most people in her little Southern town frown at such a “nice young girl” doing such a thing.

In the TV series the medium is used to full advantage to stress this point without labouring it. Tara, Sookie’s best friend who happens to be black does not even exist in Dead until Dark, but she plays a huge role in True Bloodserving to underscore the racial troubles that still plague society, with or without Vampires. Laffiette, the gay cook, is present in Dead until Dark but does not play as big a role and the church of the sun – representing all right-wing religious organisations that have persecuted minority groups – also has no part in the book.

Conclusion

All in all I enjoyed it. But it was brain popcorn. While the story is gripping, there is little more to it than the novelty of hearing a Vampire speaking in a southern drawl and being called Bill. What found particularly enjoyable was comparing it to the series.

When all is said and done the chief difference for me boils down to this: The book is just a love story, the series is a satire. Both built around a really great idea, but only one medium able to take that idea and run with it.

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