Monday, 24 June 2013

Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris

1 star

There used to be a time that I couldn’t get enough of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Actioned-packed, a wee bit sexy, and peopled with a crowd of enjoyable characters, it was brain candy of the highest order and each publication day would find me like this:

But it couldn’t last. Fast forward a few years, and my last few outings with Sookie have each been more forgettable than the last, consisting mostly of filler and the lamification of once fantastic characters. Our last instalment, Deadlocked, marked such a low for the series that I’d even managed to completely forget what it had really been about, and had completely blanked on what had become of Claude and the rest of her family. Shows how fascinating it must have been, right?

As such I didn’t approach this one with nearly as much excitement as I should (I’d have been beating down the door of the bookstore on the day it was published in the old days) but somehow, even with my significantly lowered expectations, this managed to disappoint.

In case you’re worried about spoilers, you should probably look away now… don’t say you weren’t warned.

*********************************SPOILERS BELOW**********************************

Our first problem was the underwhelming dismissal of the best character in the entire series. While I’d initially started reading for Sookie, I stayed for Eric. And while Harris has tried ever so hard recently to douchebag him up, to the point that he’s now barely the same badass as before, he’s remained one of the biggest and most interesting characters to reside in Bon Temps. I’d already predicted that this book might see him done away with. And while he might not have been killed off (which could have been great, had it been done well), he instead suffers a fate that’s almost worse as he barely makes an appearance before being booted out of the book with barely a shrug. 

Bye Eric - you deserved better.

With a big hole left by such a character, you might have thought Harris had moved him on so she could fit in all the other exciting things she had in store for Sookie. You’d be right – if your idea of exciting consisted of Sookie doing yard work, cleaning the house and cooking up a storm (including pancakes, bacon and tomato sandwiches, country fried steak and home fries. Sorry, no sweet potato pie this time around) while other people tell her what’s been happening off-page in giant information dumps masquerading as conversations. There is a smidge of action – in a couple of scenes that have Sookie nowhere near them – until she finally gets involved right towards the end, where I was long past caring.

Being the last in the series, we do get a small parade of some of the characters that have been and gone, but they’re not really put to much use - Bill gets to flit around the woods and gloat a bit, while Alcide and Quinn do nothing more than sniff a few things and sod off again. Mostly they’re here to remind us of Sookie’s past loves and to remind us of why they each weren’t quite right, so that we can all get into the right space for her final choice.

Talking of which…I’d have been quite happy if Sookie had decided she wanted to be single. I’d have been quite happy if Sookie had met some other guy who gave her the tinglies, and we could see the beginning of the relationship. Instead, I got Sookie settling for the one guy she’s only ever had nothing but friend feelings for and, as he’s avoiding her for most of the book, has barely any interaction with before he “rolled on the condom and plunged in.” Nice. 

I really wish that Charlaine Harris had stopped writing these when she was no longer having fun, and I could keep some nice memories of a series I’d loved. Now I’m just glad it’s finished

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