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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Living Dead in Dallas

***½ Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris. Contemporary fantasy.

I read the first book of this popular series several years ago, but was underwhelmed. Dagny read it too, and loved it. So I bought her the second book, and then when she was finished, I stuck it in my TBR pile, figuring I'd give the series a second chance.

Sookie Stackhouse is a telepathic cocktail waitress. There's a lot going on in this book. Her friend and coworker is murdered; she's sent to Dallas to help solve the disappearance of a vampire (by telepathically reading the human witnesses); she's attacked by a maenad with a message for the local vampire boss; she's imprisoned by a group of anti-vampire fanatics; befriends some shapeshifters; and attends a kinky sex party.

The politics of the various preternatural communities was interesting, and I enjoyed the intrigue and solving the mysteries, but there was just too much unrelated stuff going on. I'd have liked it better if the various threads connected more, or if a couple of them were saved for the next book.

More than that, though, is that I wasn't really involved in the story--it was interesting, from a distance. That's it: I was as interested in the book itself as I would have been if someone had simply related the plot to me. In other words, I didn't connect with the characters.

Some of that is because of the character of Sookie herself. I don't like her. She seems kind of dumb, and proud of being dumb, and in addition to that, she's self-pitying. On top of that, she's opinionated and bossy.

But so many people whose taste I usually share absolutely love this series, so it drives me nuts trying to figure out why it doesn't grab me. Even those things about her character that bug me aren't a problem with other characters--I love Stephanie Plum, and she's ditzy; Harry Dresden dropped out of high school, and we all know how I feel about him; I love countless characters who are opinionated and bossy, and quite a few who aren't happy about their supernatural gifts. So it's not just those details. All I can come up with is her voice--not a very satisfactory answer.

But at least I gave the series another shot. I won't be looking for the next book--I've got too much in the TBR pile and on the must-buy list as it is.


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