Friday, October 09, 2009

Book Review: Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead is the third book in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series. See my reviews for Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas for the general gist of the series. Vague spoilers for Club Dead lie ahead, but nothing you won't forget before you get around to reading it.

A lot is familiar here, having read the first two books. The writing is better but still full of awkward moments. I suspect Harris started following some new writing advice, such as mapping out her locations before writing about them (in too much detail; "I walked into a 100 square foot room with a window in the wall in front of me, a door in the center of the right wall that lead into a hallway that lead into a bedroom which also had a window, and a broom closet on the left wall. I then left and never came back"), and buying a word-a-day calendar (which she cleverly gives to Sookie as an excuse for the sudden appearance of big words). Vampire Bill is still up to his delightful rapist ways, and adds a few other unforgivable wrongs on top of that (which are quickly forgiven). But this time he's joined by a whole cast of loveable sexual predators.

Oh, and maybe I'm beating a dead horse here (LOLvampirehorse), but Sookie's extreme shallowness also makes a return. Seriously, she's about to go on dangerous mission with dangerous people, her life in jeopardy, and the first thing she thinks of is what to do with her hair. The world conspires to conform to her bizzarre superficial wishes, and the whole next chapter is spent describing her getting a surprise makeover. Let me reiterate: in this book full of vampires and werewolves and telepaths, a whole chapter is devoted to a fucking makeover.

As the hero of the novels, Sookie doesn't really do many heroic things. For example, here is the complete Sookie Stackhouse Manual for How to be a Detective:
  • Get your hair done. Find a cute outfit.
  • Show up somewhere where there may or may not be stuff relevant to the case.
  • Get seriously injured.
  • Get saved by a supernatural creature.
  • Wake up in the right place at the right time to witness the mystery's solution.

But there are a lot of good reasons to read the book anyway. For the first time, I felt there were actually some compelling mysteries, with answers that made sense but weren't completely obvious. Also, that really dumb character I alluded to in my review for Dead Until Dark makes a significant reappearance, but this time doesn't seem so out of place, and his silliness does add some comic relief.

All in all, I give Club Dead the same recommendation I did the other two books: read it for cheap thrills and nothing more.


Forest City Fashionista said...

Are you watching the HBO series as well? I haven't read any of the books, but I am addicted to Alan Ball's vision of Vampire, Human, Shifter, and Maenad inhabited Bon Temps.

Phronk said...

Yup I love True Blood. It takes some big departures from the books in order to draw each one out to a whole season, but most of the added stuff is an improvement. I think I'll stop reading the books now so I can enjoy the show on its own merits for a while, without constantly comparing them.

Carissajaded said...

Oh I love true blood and have been trying to decide whether to read the books or not. It sounds like Sookie may be a little more vain in the books? Her character kind of bothers me in the show already.. (or maybe its the acting.) I think I'll go ahead and give the first book a shot.

Hey Lady! said...

I think the biggest problem might be that you're expecting too much from these books, it's not "Lord of the Rings", or even "Interview with a Vampire". The books are shallow and fun, and compared to other shallow fun books involving vampires and supernatural creatures they are some of the best. So, your review is accurate, you just have to compare apples to apples.
Thanks for the review Mike and thanks for giving the books a fair chance, 3 of them is more then most people who feel the way you do.

Molly said...

I'm on book 6 and I love them just because they are great go-to books when you want to be entertained and not have to think too much.

Phronk said...

Carissa: Yeah it's worth a shot. Especially if you've already seen the show.

Hey Lady! and Lolly: True, I don't really expect much from them, which is why I'm able to enjoy them despite the weird flaws. It's good before-bed reading because they shut down your brain, and even if you forget what happened in the morning, the book is sure to repeat itself 10 more times. :)