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Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1)

Dead Until Dark  - Charlaine Harris

I picked this book up because I'm on deadline, and I didn't want a novel that would distract me from that priority. I wanted to have something going, but it had to be light and fluffy - something I could put down easily.

Since I've watched the television show, I figured this would be just the ticket.

I was wrong.

There are actually quite a few differences between the book and the television show, and the unanticipated changes made this a real page-turner. To my dismay, I encountered some computer problems this afternoon with my work computer (a CHKDSK and a defrag fixed the problem), but the silver lining was that while I waited for the defragmentation to complete, I polished this off.

I kept thinking that perhaps I was giving the book too much credit and unconsciously filling in details from the show, but no: Harris loads the book with atmospheric descriptions, from the state of the gravel on Bill's driveway to an outfit that's too dressy for work but not quite nice enough for church.

Despite telling a fairly simple story, Harris provides a certain authenticity by inserting little colloquialisms that reflect the South. I also liked the fact that she didn't take herself so seriously. No emo sparkling vampires here: only a writer with a sense of humor would've added Bubba to her narrative. :) (Don't go looking Bubba up on the 'net if you haven't read the book - you'll spoil yourself.)

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the book wasn't quite as trashy as the show in terms of gratuitous sex. All that Nakey Jason stuff that happens during the first season of True Blood? It isn't in there. At least, not directly (it's alluded to near the end of the book, but it's just mentioned - we don't witness the scenes). HBO used their cable status to spice things up, I guess.

Don't get me wrong: there's still a little bit of a Harlequin Vampire Romance going on here and there, and I don't think many contemporary lit classes are going to be studying these any time soon. Nevertheless, the tone is fun and even peppy at times, and I have to admit that the book, though light, was better than I'd expected it to be. It's a good candidate for an entertaining beach read.

I'll likely read the next one ... sometime after I finish my deadline project, now that my computer is working again. :)