Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series has been made into the popular HBO series True Blood.
I have now read the first ten books and watched the first two seasons of the series. With the new book Dead Reckoning just being rolled out around the world, I thought I would do a quick review.
If you like vampires then these are the books for you. Unlike Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, Harris succeeds in bringing the mythical vampire into the modern world. In my personal opinion the only other people to do so have been Anne Rice and Joss Whedon. (Perhaps there are others but these ones stick in my mind). Although I did enjoy the Twilight books and I'm not one of those people who constantly knocks Twilight, I just feel that like many attempts at bringing mythological and supernatural creatures into the modern age, Twilight falls a bit short. But rather than knocking Meyers for her attempt I more inclined to feel that this is just a huge challenge than very few can meet.
Harris can be commended for her effort. Much like the realization that many mythological beings were conceived by people not having answers to anomalies, Harris gives this process some thought by imagining that if they were real, how much of the mythology would be accurate and how much circumspect or the product of misinformation? This appeals to me a great deal. Much like the Sci Fi Geeks who like to consider their favourite programs from a science perspective.
The TV series varies a little from the books, but not so greatly that you wouldn't recognize the characters. Some of the story lines are expanded and there are some characters not in the books, as well as some relationships slightly altered or extended. But all in all the series is a pretty good adaption of the book. One of the main reasons for these changes is so the actors have enough involvement in the story lines. In a book you can have as many characters as you like. In a TV series or film, the actors must be paid and also need to have a rounded character role in order to warrant that character's inclusion in the show.
The books do have a serial like storyline, however some plots are wound up nicely in each book. My husband listened to one book with me on a road trip, where I got the audio book from the library. He felt the story stood alone, but he did ask me a few times what happened to different characters, so they are best read in order to fill in all the blanks.
My one criticism would be the storyline where Sookie was abused as a child by her great uncle. Obviously being believed by her Gran would have done a great deal to help Sookie, and then that the abuse stopped. However, on it's own, neither Gran's approach nor Bill's answer to the problem would have a long lasting therapeutic effect on a child who has been abused. You can look at any text or web site about adults surviving child abuse to know that the effects are far more reaching than is shown in Sookie's character. I do see some hints, such as risk taking, and social isolation, but especially when Bill rapes her in the boot of the car when he is in a blood frenzy, should have required much therapy and surely would have induced some flashbacks and other long term issues. But perhaps that would have taken too much away from the other story lines?
The TV series still holds surprises for the book reader, which I rather enjoy. But you may be disappointed if you want the screen adaption to be identical to the books.
Also available are A Touch of Dead short stories from Sookie World and The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.
I am doing the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge. Thanks to Socrates' Book Reviews for hosting.