Thursday, October 8, 2009

And book 3

I had a few minutes after all so I thought I'd scratch 'Dead and Gone', the latest in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood book series, off my list and provide my review. For my Thanksgiving post, however, as I don't know if I'll be back on the blogs before that day, check out the post before this one. :) Cheers all.

1. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Iran - Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams of My Father - Barack Obama
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt
9. The Host - Stephenie Meyers
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker
24. Paradise Lost - John Milton
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks - Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours - Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
36. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
47. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
48. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours - Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
59. Play it as it Lays - Joan Didion
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister - Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes - Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians - Will Ferguson
67. I was a Teenage Katima-Victim - Will Ferguson
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams
73. Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
85. Snarky Responses to Yahoo! Answers - Matthew Cory
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K - Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon
98. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. The Ultimate Weight Solution - Dr. Phil McGraw
101. Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life - Dr. Phil McGraw

DEAD AND GONE is the 8th in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, featuring Sookie Stackhouse, the inspiration for the super-successful True Blood series on HBO. Obviously, as it is a series, I want to preface this review by saying that at this point, to get the most you can out of this book, you should probably go back and read the entire series starting from DEAD UNTIL DARK. And for fans of True Blood looking to read the books that started it all, beware on two fronts; the books in some ways ARE different from the series (DEAD UNTIL DARK very closely follows season 1 of true blood, but season two diverges from book 2's LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS in some ways, incorporating aspects of book 3, CLUB DEAD, as well). But in other ways they are very different. That means you are in danger of both potential spoilers when the series follows the trajectory of the books, AND disappointment where the books and TV show diverge. For that end, I am not going to get into specific plot points for DEAD AND GONE, as that would ruin the previous books in in the series for readers, and potential future plot points in True Blood for watchers.

With that ample preamble out of my way, I definitely enjoyed this book the way I've enjoyed the rest of the series. Similar to the rest of the series, wrestling autobiographies, romance novels, etc., it's an easy read clocking in at just about 300 pages of fairly easy but interesting reading. The Sookie Stackhouse universe has become replete with different characters, types of supernatural beings, and history at this point, so the later books like this one do become a bit slower as you attempt to recall and place a whole series of characters, past events, etc. But it is popcorn reading at its best ... which is not to say it is stupid or intelligence-insulting. Is it high art? No - but neither was Shakespeare at some points, and, in a more apt comparison, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein were considered pseudoerotic monster thrillers in their day. And in that vein, I feel that while these won't become hallowed and respected and obvious classics like the Harry Potter series, or much of the Bard's work, it will still hold up and be read in a similar vein to Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera" years in the future. Sookie Stackhouse: The Musical, anyone? ;)

Charlaine Harris does a great job of intertwining popular culture as we recognize it (real musical artists, writers, movies and TV shows are referenced), with actual historical events (Hurricane Katrina was an un-ignorable historical fact hitting Sookie's home state of Louisiana as Harris was writing the 4th or 5th book in the series), with the supernatural, making the less believable aspects (vampires, werewolves) seem all the more real for fitting into a world we recognize (as opposed to a remote castle in Transylvania, or secret subteranian lairs under the Paris Opera Populaire). Again - not high literature, but well-written, hums along, interesting and challenging in that an entire little society has been created through this series.

Fans of the Twilight saga - such as myself - might be attracted to this series, which made its debut around the same time (thus not exactly capitalizing on the vampire hype that came about with the release of the Twilight movie ... no, its TV counterpart did THAT ;) ), but a word of caution. While Twilight is geared at preteen and teenage audiences (although I as an adult and many adults I know enjoy it), the Southern Vampire Mysteries (and definitely, perhaps even moreso, the True Blood TV series) are more for adult audiences; YOUNG adult audiences definitely (I don't think our parents would enjoy it), but they wouldn't, nor should they, appeal to the younger end of the Twilight crowd, or those who liked Twilight's sentimentality (there is VERY little 'mushy stuff' in this series). Still, if you grew up on Twilight and are now ready to graduate to something a bit more edgy, that takes itself a bit less seriously, give the Sookie Stackhouse series a try, ending from the beginning, ending with DEAD AND GONE, which ties a lot of previous plotpoints together and answers several questions. Even if not, hey, give it a try - it's a quick and easy read that won't waste a whole lot of your time if you DON'T like it.

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