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  1. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    It's a new year and Sookie resolves that this year she will not get beaten up. Having split up with Bill, who has also now gone to Peru to continue working on his project, it might just be possible that Sookie can make that resolution come true. That is, until Sookie spots the vampire Eric running half naked down the road in the middle of the night having lost his memory. Sookie agrees to hide Eric while Pam and Chow investigate, believing that a group of witches have placed a hex on Eric. Stripped of his identity, a sweet and vulnerable side of Eric is revealed that Sookie finds hard to resist. But hiding the attractive Eric in her house isn't the only problem that Sookie has to deal with. Her brother, Jason, has gone missing and Sookie is worried that the witches may have something to do with his disappearance.

    Okay, so I know that I said that I wouldn't be reviewing any more Sookie books for awhile but after bumping into a high school friend and her telling me how good a book Dead to the World is and then reading the back cover and realising that it was filled with lots of Eric then I just had to read it without delay.

    Dead to the World is your usual fun romp that the Southern Vampire Mysteries usually offer. Boring, dodgy (now ex-)boyfriend Bill hardly gets a look in while the far more interesting Eric gets the chance to shine and showcase an entirely different side of his character. (In fact, sending Bill over seas was probably a convenient way to make sure that he doesn't step in on Sookie/Eric time.) It will be very interesting to see in the next book the effects of how Sookie and Eric's relationship developed while he had amnesia. (Amnesia plot lines sound so soap-opera...) We get to see Alcide again, who still gets my vote as best boyfriend material out of Sookie's potential choices. Previously I had complained about Sookie getting too many admirers too easily. She does acquire another in Dead to the World but he is not a character right up in the forefront of the storytelling all the time so it's not so bad.

    I found myself genuinely concerned about the fate of Jason but to be perfectly honest I don't know if my investment in the character is due to Harris's writing of him and his loss or because we got to see so much more of him in the televised version of the novels, True Blood...

    The way Charlaine Harris chose to represent Wiccans was also extremely disappointing. I read the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book before I began to read the actual story. She goes on about thanking the Wiccans who helped her to do her research and names a few specifically so my interest was definitely piqued and I hoped for a well informed portrayal. What I got instead was a character who suddenly became anorexic, decided to spike her hair and die it black, and get multiple piercing in her ears to fit a supposed Wiccan image who goes on to give an awkward and ill informed definition of the religion of Wicca. Sigh. If Harris wanted to include witches in her supernatural entourage then that is perfectly fine by me but if this is the result of her supposed research then she should have left the religion aspect out of it. Maybe her intentions were good. She may have have been trying to use Wicca to introduce nice witches so that she couldn't be interpreted as labelling witches as bad people as there are people who practice witchcraft in real life but this just came out terribly by making them look like wanna-be goths instead. (Not meaning to insult any goths who may happen to be reading this.)

    After meeting our supposedly Wiccan friend, Holly, Sookie comes out with this little doozy of a line:

    "Our little Town of Bon Temps had stretched it's gates open wide enough to tolerate vampires, and gay people didn't have a very hard time of it anymore (kind of depending on how they expressed their sexual preference). However, I thought the gates might snap shut on Wiccans."

    Does anyone else find that line to be a bit of a "what the?" moment? I mean, seeing as the only "flamboyantly gay" man Sookie has mentioned to have lived in Bon Temps was horribly murdered just a couple of books ago that doesn't bode well for the gay community in Bon Temps. Makes you worry for the Wiccans seeing as the only thing that she seems to directly imply as being wrong with them is that they aren't practising a Christian denomination.

    There was finally a bit of dialogue telling us about the fate of the culprit in Dead Until Dark. (As I have previously mentioned, I like a bit of follow up.) It was with some of the policemen and the way everyone discussed it you would think that Sookie had nothing to do with the arrest, knew nothing of his conviction, and didn't even know his name.

    I also sometimes feel that Harris let's the whole telepath thing fall too far to the wayside. It's a constant part of Sookie and she has to consciously keep it in check but she didn't mention much. Here it mostly came up as a device to involve Sookie in the battle at the end where she otherwise had no place attending. Sookie did once again refer to it as her disability which might be credited as the result of no Bill around to talk it up as being her gift.

    The book was still enjoyable but I don't think it was too well thought out. You may want to switch your brain off while reading this one lest the little details start to annoy you.

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