Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on 25 January, 2012 | 3 Comments



Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #1
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
(5.1.2001)
Paperback, 292 pages
Source: I own it


1 Stars

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the kind of guy she's been waiting for all her life.

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire. Worse than that, hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind.

And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she'll be next....

My Review

Boy, do I despise getting my hopes up. There was so much hype and talk about this series that I was absolutely sure I’d like it. So, what did my dumb-ass self do? Bought the first NINE books. *bashes face into keyboard* 
Aside from the obviously novice prose, there were so many things that were absolutely awful and wrong with this book that I don’t even know where to start.
 
Brace yourself, this is going to be long. If you liked this book, you should probably stop reading now.
 
So, I guess I’ll tackle Sookie herself first. I couldn’t stand her. She’s a naive blonde bimbo, always smiling  for no apparent reason, and annoying as hell. She’s the epitome of everything I hate in females (I’m a hardcore tomboy, by the way)….moody, blubbering, complicated, whiny. When she’s not being shallow and selfish, she’s crying. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. And over stupid petty crap at that. When big things happen (like someone important dying), she either doesn’t react…or she giggles? Oookaaaaayyy.
Then there’s also the pity party about her life – people don’t understand me because I have a disability to read minds, I’ve never had sex, everyone thinks I’m crazy…boo, hoo. She repeatedly mentions how because of her disability (yes I used it again, it’s annoying to repeat but that’s what Sookie did! Never once was it an “ability”) everyone thinks she’s crazy…yet she never tells anyone? She doesn’t seem to act crazy, she’s good at keeping a poker face when she hears bad thoughts (a fact that is reiterated over and over again), so why does everybody call her “Crazy Sookie?” Doesn’t make sense to me either. 
She’s never had sex but it’s all she seems to be able to think about…even when people are dying. Then she goes to the vamp bar to investigate said murders and is worrying about what to wear. Vain much?
 
The relationship between Bill (really? Bill? for a vampire name?) and Sookie was terrible. It’s nothing short of instaluv – she becomes practically obsessed with him but she barely knows him (easy, Bella), calling him her “potential sweetie” after she’s just met him. The L word came around much too fast and when it did, I groaned out loud. Terrible. I wasn’t satisfied by the romance at all, it wasn’t realistic and happened too fast. Every time she calls him “honey” or “sweetheart” or they said “I love you” my eye twitched. Spasmodically. 
They supposedly “love” each other, but all they really do is have sex. There didn’t seem to be much of a connection.
 
Which brings me to another main complaint – the sex. Okay, I’ve read my share of books with sexual content and it doesn’t usually bother me in the least bit, but this one was ridiculous. Aside from the murders, it seemed to be all about sex. It seems like everybody in the town had slept with everybody else. Sex is the basis of Sookie and Bill’s relationship and it’s all she thinks about. When someone important died, they had sex in said someone’s bed THE NIGHT OF THE FUNERAL. Um, gag.
Oh, and by the way, the sex scenes were like a derailed freight train. In one scene, he drives her into the ground and she makes a reference to them being “mud people.” What? Yeah, I don’t know either. Oh, and Bill says “I want to enter you again.” I actually facepalmed. A little too hard. Maybe that’s why this book gave me a headache.
 
I didn’t like any of the characters. At all. Other than the God awful names (Charslie Tooten and Bubba, REALLY? And Dean is NOT a dog name), the characters had no depth or dimension. Bill had absolutely zero personality. I don’t even know what Sookie saw in him. Or what he saw in her, for that matter. He wants to protect her and she “tastes different,” that was all I gathered. 
Other than Sookie, Jared was probably the worst character. He was selfish, petty, and a major man whore. Ew
 
I couldn’t feel anything at all for this book. Even though you’re in Sookie’s mind – it’s in first person, her POV – it doesn’t really go into her emotions. Just shallow and mostly pointless thoughts. Situations that should seem bad aren’t to her, and she overreacts about little things – often crying or getting very angry for little to no reason at all. 
I tried to keep an open mind, I really did, because I want to read the rest of the series and I’ve heard from several people that book 4 is really good. So, even when I wanted to give up (through the majority of  the book, especially after the first half) I didn’t. But I found myself doing other things, like playing pointless games on  my iPhone out of sheer boredom to avoid reading any more. I would have rather watched paint dry. There was definitely a lot of sighing and groaning on my part.
 
Then the cat got murdered. Oh, lord. This is probably the biggest faux pas any author could commit in my eyes. In case any of you didn’t know, I am a hardcore and fanatical cat lover. At this point I was too irritated to read another sentence and I must admit I committed a violent act of book abuse (hurled it at my wall). But, I hate starting things and not finishing them – and I was only 50 pages away from  the end – so I sucked it up and skimmed the rest to get it over with.
 
I wanted to read the rest of the series, hoping that it would improve…but I’m not so sure now. Between lots of bad grammar, typos, bad wording, and plenty of syntax errors, I started to wonder if maybe her editor had random fits of narcolepsy while trying to finish this book. Most of it was thrown together rather haphazardly. There were sentences that didn’t make sense, and seemed to be no transition between scenes. For example, one character that you’ve known throughout the whole book shows zero signs of being anything other than a normal human, then WHAM BAM! whaddaya know, they’re a shapeshifter! Uh, what? There was nothing hinting it and no segue into the revelation. It seemed like the characters were originally written intended to be normal, then halfway through changed to be supernatural.
 
The only thing – and I do mean ONLY – that I liked was that the identity of the killer was a surprise to me. I was probably too busy being distracted by the horrible writing to figure it out.
 
assessment
Plot: 3/5
Murder mystery, might have been exciting if not for all the flaws.
Writing style: 1/5
Oh so sophomoric.
Characters: 1/5
No depth, not realistic at all.
Pace: 2/5
I got bored a lot. Found myself staring at the ceiling instead of the words…
Cover: 1/5
It’s not even pretty. I kind of like the font for “Dead Until Dark” but the art is hideous.
 
Overall rating: 1/5 starfish
Not really any redeemable qualities, in my opinion.
Jessi (Geo)

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3 Responses to “Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris”

  1. My friends love this series, but I just can’t get into it. I think it’s because I prefer my vampires to be funny and sexy. The vamps in this book were more scary than sexy.
    I keep meaning to try out the 2nd book, but I just haven’t been in the mood.

  2. Wow! I love this series and am surprised about how poorly you rated it. I will admit it’s not everybody’s cup of tea though and don’t expect to change your mind. There are so many books out there, you might as well go on to another series.

    However:

    Actually Harris’ wrote several stand alone books and several books in 2 mystery series before this series.

    Regarding the vampires and Bill’s name. The vampires in this series live an essentially normal life, unlike some series where they’re all rich and live in fancy mansions and kick bad guy ass. They have ordinary jobs and lives.

    William Compton is a perfectly acceptable name for a civil war vet from the south which is what he was when human. When he became a vampire was he supposed to change it to Zadist? (J.R. Ward’s names are totally ridiculous, but that’s another issue.) Most of the vamps have ordinary looks and bodies, they’re not all hunks with long hair and muscles upon muscles (I like those vamps too).

    I will agree that Sookie’s a bit vacuous, but some women are like that and she’s lived a very limited life in a small southern town. I can also understand her wanting to dress up, etc. She was going to a bar (for whatever reason), which is a big night out for someone from Bon Temps especially for someone who’s been on about 2 dates by the age of 24. I’ve met women like her.

    I started reading this series in my late 20’s and while I live in a large metropolitan area, I’m very familiar with the small town lifestyle, so I may be approaching the series from an entirely different place from you which is why it appeals to me. I found it refreshing from the uber alpha vampires and unrealistically strong women who become instant kick ass heroines (read a lot of these type of books and like them too, but they certainly aren’t realistic either).

  3. I live in a small town. That has nothing to do with the fact that the writing was terrible and it was glaringly absent of any kind of morals. It was a shallow book about sex. That is just my opinion, I’m sorry if my review offends anyone (well, okay not really because it’s my opinion and we all have one, and by golly I’m going to voice mine because that’s just who I am). That is why I said in the beginning if you are a fan of the series you might not to read any further.

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