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  1. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress living in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Although she's pretty, Sookie doesn't date. In fact, Sookie has a "disability" which makes dating pretty much impossible. She can read minds. Then one night Bill arrives in town. Sookie can't hear his thoughts at all and she soon finds herself falling for him. There's just one hitch: Bill is a vampire. Then women start showing up dead. Women with old bite marks on them. Someone is targeting "fangbangers" and it looks like Sookie is on their hit list. Is dating a vampire such a bright idea?

    The Southern Vampire Mysteries has been enjoying a boom in popularity thanks to True Blood, the television show based on the series. I decided to jump onto the bandwagon with Dead Until Dark, the first book in the series, originally published in 2001.

    I really enjoyed Sookie's perspective. Maybe it's just because I'm Australian and haven't had much exposure to it, but I found the Southern setting absolutely quirky and charming. I also liked Harris' portrayal of vampires. As a fan of the good old classics, I couldn't help but love the bit where Bill levitated. I also liked that, even though he was trying to "mainstream" (live a life among humans), Bill wasn't all apolagetic about the fact that he was a vampire. He has drunk human blood and even killed people. "Deal with it."

    The word that I would use to describe this book would have to be fun. I am somewhat reminded of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series but this book is much lighter in content. It's perfect if you are looking for an entertaining, light read and my only real complaint would be that it was over too soon. Lucky for me the books were on sale down at my local Big W and I was able to zipp down and grab the next two, Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead. I still haven't seen True Blood yet. I've been hunting for the dvds but it seems to be sold out everywhere so in the meanwhile I intend to keep working my way through the books.

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  2. Mary has lived her entire life within the fences which surround her village. Beyond those fences lies the dangerous Forest of Hands and Teeth. Life in the village is restrictive, lead by the Sisters, who teach that there is nothing but forest beyond the fences. However Mary grows restless as she faces marriage, not to the man she loves, but to his brother. She dreams of leaving her village, inspired by the stories about the ocean passed down through her family ever since the Return, when the Unconsecrated rose.

    This book struck me as being somewhat like a cross between the movie The Village and a George Romero film. For some reason I could not really get into this book to start with, but persevered and was glad that I did. Most of my issues early on concerned my feeling that that there were many things that could have been explored more in-depth. I was hoping to learn more about the Sisters, the religious group that governs the village, as clearly they were keeping a lot of secrets seemingly for their own purposes and I was looking for more on Gabrielle. I also would have liked to have known a little more about the stories that Mary's mother had told her. What was it that made the ocean so significant in these stories above all other things? I can only hope that Ryan will reveal more in the future books.

    It was once the inevitable happened, and the story moved on outside of the village, that I was really able to get into it. I liked how every so often we would be reminded about the closeness of the Unconsecrated (the "z word" is never used), especially seeing as, while there were moments of action and mild violence, it was not overtly descriptive so I wanted those reminders to up the creep factor. I also thought that the Roman numeral riddle was an original way to add interest to the journey. In regards to the love triangle, (square really,) I don't mind a well written romance sub plot but don't consider myself a big fan of the romance genre, so I was glad to see that there was a decent balance here and that the romance storyline never became overbearing.

    The black and glossy red cover also seems to be part of the recent trend of book covers trying to echo that of Twilight. However, I have spotted the US cover online which depicts Mary, who is actually never clearly described in the book. I did expect a little more from the ending but I was still glad to have stuck with it in the end, and it was refreshing to read a zombie book in the midst of all these vampire books that are about as of late. I'll be keeping an eye out for the release of the sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, in 2010.

    So there is my very first book review. I hope that those who have stumbled upon my new project here have enjoyed this first post. I am still finding my feet with this blog but hopefully it can only improve from here.


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