I still haven't caught up on summer reviews, but I can't review a sequel until I've reviewed the first book.
The tv show:You've all heard of True Blood, HBO's increasingly popular series based on Charlaine Harris' series of vampire mysteries featuring cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse. What is unique about True Blood is that each season takes on one book. I'm also a huge fan of Gossip Girl, who took the more usual approach of bringing the characters rather than the storylines to life. I haven't seen True Blood yet, but there are some obvious additions and deletions of characters. Still, this model of scripting is the closest to the books of any series I'm aware of.
Dead Until Dark: Dead Until Dark grabbed me right away. Harris concocted a brilliant universe for BonTemps, Louisiana. Vampires are now legally recognized (partly due to the Japanese invention of synthetic blood that makes feeding on humans a joy rather than a means of survival. I realize it sounds ridiculous, but it's somewhat believable because the story covers so many logical bases. If vampires were to be accepted into society, this model actually makes sense. Sookie is not necessarily a character I would instantly relate to if I met her on the street, but I did grow to like her as much as I liked her world.
The bottom line: I am ambivalent about vampires and Southern fiction as a genre. There are plenty of books (and tv shows) about vampires I like, but I don't read books simply because they're about vampires. I feel similarly about Southern fiction. Of course there are books I enjoy that are set in the South, but the setting does not draw me to these books. What this book is about is less important to me than how enjoyable it is to read. The world of Bon Temps is delightful not because it's Southern or has vampires, but because it's well-rounded and well thought out. Dead Until Dark is not great literature, but it is immensely entertaining and thought provoking.
Rating: 4 stars (loved it)
Living Dead in Dallas: Are sequels ever equally as good as the original? I tend to either like them less (if the novelty has worn off) or more (if the already established characters and setting allow the writer to do so much more). Thankfully, Living Dead in Dallas is the latter. As I have a weakness for episodic television, I love books in a series. The funniest, sweetest and saddest lines in tv and books always come from well-established characters. (spoiler alert) Harris takes the reality of vampires to a new level as they face off against a conservative church who preaches vampire hatred. The storyline is simultaneously a metaphor and a possible reality, and I loved it.
Rating: 4.25 stars (really loved it) - it's better than the first one
Overall: Despite not being drawn to vampire fiction or Southern fiction, I am a huge fan of this series. I've got the first two discs of the series from Netflix, and I'm eagerly awaiting reading the third book, Club Dead. Also, I love discovering a series new to me that already has ten books in it. Perhaps I'll catch up before the eleventh appears!