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Aw Sookie Sookie Now!

Aw Sookie Sookie Now!

Since the new season of True Blood just kicked off on Sunday, I’ve heard a lot of startled “Oh, that show is based on books?! I need to read them!” exclamations. That in mind, I’m not going to do a book review today so much as a SERIES REVIEW. Gasp! Shock! Awe!

The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris!

So, okay. Not sure if you want to read the series? Think it’ll spoil the show? It won’t. They are almost becoming two separate entities at this point, some of the storylines are the same and some are not, which is kind of a nice mix. I think Alan Ball, the creator of the HBO Series, has done a really good job of plucking out the plots written by Harris that work best on the screen and letting the others remain bookside.

Let’s face it, not all book-to-television translations work and sometimes it takes an awful lot of doctoring to get them viewer-ready. A lot of times, there are just too many plots and too little time to get it all down. I think the Sookie Stackhouse-to-True Blood series translation is a fantastic blend,  though. And hey! That’s just this Book Nerdist’s opinion, that doesn’t mean I’m right.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning! I’m just going to give a brief description of the books, not a thorough review of each one because that would take for freakin’ EVER. There are ten books so far and here they are, chronologically!

Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse Novel.

Or Southern Vampire Mysteries novel, if you want to get technical. In this book, we meet Sookie Stackhouse, a Merlotte’s waitress in a small Louisiana town called Bon Temps. She’s pretty typical, blond and pretty, but she never dates. Why? Well, it’s hard to get out on the town when you can hear every dirty thought pouring from your date’s brain, right? That’s Sookie’s disability: she can read minds. But not everbody’s! Now that the Japanese have perfected synthetic blood and vampires are “out of the coffin,” Sookie finally meets a man without those pesky brainwaves. Bill Compton, who, of course, is a vampire! Shortly after he arrives, the murders start and they’re getting increasingly close to home for our Sookie. Who’s to blame? Her womanizing brother, Jason? The vampire Bill? Or maybe even Sookie’s boss, the man with an odd secret, Sam Merlotte? It’s up to Sookie to find out before she’s next. Yikes!

Living Dead in Dallas, book two.

Sookie and Vampire Bill are doing pretty well together. The Vampire Sheriff, Eric Northman, is developing a keen interest in the telepath, though. When he dispatches Sookie to Dallas to locate a missing vampire, she finds herself tangled up in a whole new kind of mess, learning more secrets than she probably ever wanted to.

Club Dead, book three.

Bill goes missing! Sookie sets out to find her wayward boyfriend and ends up meeting a hunky werewolf (yeah, vampires and werewolves in this series too, whatcha gonna do…) named Alcide. He comes from a well respected family, himself, and we get a peek into some were-people politics. And she thought vampires were complicated? After discovering her vampire boyfriend has betrayed her, Sookie’s not exactly sure WHAT to think anymore.

Dead to the World, book four.

Eric Northman? Eric who? Sookie discovers the vampire Sheriff of Area 5 running bare-chested down her road in the middle of the night and he has no idea how he got there. He also has no idea who he is. Despite her distaste for the powerful vampire, Sookie takes him into her home to protect him from a group of really dark bitches. I mean, witches! Oh and then her brother, Jason, goes missing too.

Dead As a Doornail, book five.

Somebody’s killing the local shifters. (Oh! Yeah! Hey, everbody who’s not a werewolf is called a ‘shifter’ by the way.) That’s no good! Considering who Sookie’s shifter friends are, she hopes one of them isn’t next. Poor Sookie gets inserted into werewolf politics, which are even more disturbing than vampire politics, and fingers start pointing in her direction about one of the murders.

Definitely Dead, book six.

When you pick this book up, you feel like you missed something. That’s because you did. There’s a short story that’s supposed to be read between books five and six, it can be found in A Touch of Dead, a short stories collection. Sookie goes to close up her dead ex-vampire cousin Hadley’s estate  in New Orleans. She meets a new friend there named Amelia who just so happens to be a witch. We also get to know Quinn, a big bald man who turns into a tiger sometimes. It’s here that we learn the real reason for Bill’s betrayal in the previous books. What a dick.

All Together Dead, book seven.

Hey, a Vampire Summit! That’s exciting! It’s even more exciting when dead bodies start piling up and Sookie finds herself smack in the middle of a whole mess of vampire politics and drama. Sookie spends a little time with her hunky beau, Quinn, but ends up being “blood bound” to another hunky beau.

From Dead to Worse, book eight.

Helping the Vampire Queen of Louisana isn’t the best course of action for Sookie, but she does it anyway. Of course, she ends up targeted for murder oh and great! There’s a werewolf war a-brewin’! Things couldn’t get much worse and then, somehow, they get much weirder instead. Sookie learns some uh, interesting(? Yeah, interesting!) secrets from her family’s past.

Dead and Gone, book nine.

Remember those shifters? They “come out of the closet” in this book and not everybody takes it very well. (Sam’s mom gets shot by her husband, for instance.) Bon Temps hasn’t been the quietest of places lately but after a shifter woman, who happens to be Sookie’s sister-in-law, is found dead outside of Merlotte’s — well. It’s not good. On top of all that, there’s a new King of Louisiana and despite Eric’s best efforts, the King is awfully interested in Sookie. Not to mention the otherworldly problems that Sookie’s having outside of this tangle. The book is really chocked full of plots and things that can’t be put neatly into a brief description. Lots to read here, a Faerie War starts and people die… yeah. I said it. Faerie.

Dead in the Family, book ten.

Well, things have really calmed down. Sort of. Sookie’s survived the war in the former book, but she’s lost too many people and we get a sense of bone-weariness from our heroine. She’s settled into a comfortable relationship with Eric and hopes for things to get better. They don’t. Why does it seem like EVERYBODY is having family drama these days? Sheesh.

So that’s Sookie Stackhouse for you, in a nutshell! I enjoyed the books, myself. They’re not for everyone and they kind of border on the very periphery of my literary taste — but hey — sometimes? You just need a good, mindless read to get you through the day.

Happy reading, nerdlings!

Images: Ace Books, HBO


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  1. Bailey says:

    Its all just good fun. Its not meant to be groundbreaking literature or TV. Its meant to be enjoyed and thats it. Don’t take any of it too seriously, that is not the purpose.

  2. CW says:

    I’ve never understood people who insist on slavish devotion to source material in adaptations. If I want the story exactly as it is in the book, I’ll read the book. If you’re going to create a movie/series/interpretive dance based on the book, adapt it in a way that fits that medium. I’d rather have a good movie/series/interpretive dance that makes a few changes than a crappy one that is word for word the same as the source.

  3. jamie says:

    glad to see I’m not the only nerd who read (and enjoyed) the entire sookie stackhouse series 🙂

  4. I’m in full agreement with Jessica’s post and review. I love the books as well–I call them brain crack: They’re not good for you, they don’t last very long, and you always want more. Alan Ball and the rest of the crew are doing an excellent job. I like the characters they’ve picked to beef up for the show, namely Lafayette and Tara. Any problems I have with Tara stem from last season and my only complaint: the maenad storyline went on way too long. The only reason I think they did it because they had to give the Bon Temps crew something to do while Sookie was in Dallas, or else those cast members would have been twiddling their thumbs for half a season. I also like the characters they’ve added to the story cast, like Jessica, who pissed me off at first, but quickly became a great character.

    I am really looking forward to the rest of this season to see how Ball et al handle the shifters and weres, definitely my favorite characters from the books!

    Thanks for the great post, Jessica! I also love Dresden Files, would love to read another post focusing on them!

  5. Duder says:

    I am a big fan of the show so I decided to give the books a try, and I got hooked, read through them all in a couple of weeks. I found them to be well written, well paced and not overly descriptive which can just kill a book for me. Some of Neal Stephenson’s books were tough to get through because of his fondness of writing pages of descriptions for a few sentences of dialogue.
    As for the differences between the show and the books, I think its great. Why would anyone want them to be exactly the same. Two things though Tara annoys the shit out of me I think she works much better as a minor recurring character like in the book. Also the books veer into cheesy romance novel territory occasionally, I liked the sex in the show much better and not just because its a visual medium.

  6. I’m half way through the series and I will second the point that reading the books will not spoil a thing. If anything they will only make you more intrigued to see the plot twists Alan Ball seem to add to the show without any complication whatsoever.

    Both are good. Which is a rarity in this world that should be at least acknowledged and appreciated if you ask me … whether you’re into this sort of thing or not.

  7. @Scott! I’m sorry this disappointed you! I found it very difficult to try and put together a comprehensive review of the series that didn’t come off as a rambling clusterfuck of words. It was especially difficult to try to come up with one that would be comprehensible to anyone who hasn’t actually read the series. At best, I thought a book by book breakdown would help people to better understand what they were getting themselves into if they did decide to pick it up.

    The books and show are going in two very different directions at this point, so I still stick by my statement that reading the books won’t spoil much. After watching the first episode of season 3 last week, I think it’s increasingly unlikely that they’re going to change up the history of the show to better fit the book series. That’s just my opinion!

    Again, sorry to disappoint. I guess they can’t all be winners!

  8. Scott says:

    I was hoping for an actual review of the book series, and not simply a plot summary I could have likely found on Wikipedia.

    After reading the events of the first three books, I avoided the rest since they describe (albeit without much detail) the plots of the first three seasons of the show thus far. So your throwaway line of “don’t worry, it won’t spoil the show” is misleading at best.

    I’ve grown to expect more comprehensive, well-informed and funny articles from and this one certainly disappointed.

  9. To all suggesting it, I’m actually a big fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files! I was thinking of doing a review for that series at some point, so watch out. I actually have not seen past the first episode of the show though, but I’ll check it out eventually.

    @mindful_indulgence: Yeah, my brain did feel a little numb after reading them. (If you ask my friends who received half a dozen “WTF IS THIS SHIT?!” texts while I was reading the series, they might disagree with the “a little numb” understatement, but whatevs!) But like I said! A good, mindless read is occasionally in order and these can definitely provide that. To each their own!

  10. Martin says:

    I have to say that the show is much more entertaining than the books, for me at least. I found myself getting really irritated by Sookie and her commentary. Maybe if the books weren’t narrated by her and the focus was spread amongst the supporting characters more(Like the show). If you are looking for a really good Urban Fantasy series, check out Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It is my favorite series since Tolkien. They are awesome! Harry, the protagonist, is a mix between Sam Spade, Gandalf and George Carlin. Conversely the television series kinda sucked. I guess there really is balance in the world 🙂

  11. mindful_indulgence says:

    You forgot to mention how badly written they are. If this “literature” “borders on the edge of your literary tastes” than I have seriously underestimated your nerdistness and you have hereby been demoted on my Pass List to the #3 spot behind Dave Salmoni an ld Mike Rowe. I was a fan of the series first and by page 50 o the first book I felt like I’d need a lobotomy to continue with it. Not everyone can be David Foster Wallace, I guess. Also, you forgot to mention the factual inconsistencies in the series. If the author can’t stay on top of her supernatural world, why should I assault my eyeballs with bad romance novels with vampires in place of pirates?

  12. Mariely says:

    I love the book and I love the show! Although there are parts of the show that remain true to the book…many things are different and that is okay. I treat both the books and the show as separate entities. I think I could’ve done with a few less orgies last season but other than that, Alan Ball is the man and I will keep reading these so long as Charlaine Harris wants to write them…its all good fun.

  13. Davad says:

    I gotta say that I saw the first few episodes of season 1 I went and found the books. I enjoy both the books and Alan Ball’s adaptation. He can’t follow the books exactly, and that would be boring anyway. I like having Tara and Lafayette around so much. He stays pretty faithful to the tone and the overall plot, and has stated that by the end of this season, we will see Sookie’s bloodline be honored and explained.

    The audiobooks are great, read by Johanna Parker. I love to listen to them on road trips. She can bring those books to life very well.

    Charlaine Harris certainly has a very active imagination when it comes to the sex parts. It was awhile before I noticed her picture. I never thought those steamy bits would come out of the mind of someone who looks like a lady who should be meeting friends at the local garden party. It’s all very good and very entertaining.

  14. my_leisure says:

    @ Derrick

    Really? I thought once again the Show Dresden was again too distant from the book. But I could at least understand why, since it was a network show.

    (the books are definately one of my top 10 series and the Codex of Alera were great too. I love that he created them because of a bet he had)

  15. Derrick says:

    Even though it was a short lived 1 season you should do a review/comparison of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series to the Syfy (nee Sci-Fi) show of the same name.

    I think both were great.

  16. my_leisure says:

    This show is making me cringe at what’s going to happen when “Game of Thrones” hits TV. It’s probably going to be set in the 1980’s in Nebraska.

  17. my_leisure says:

    If you like the books DON’T watch the show. If you like the show DON’T read the books. Is it really that friggen difficult to keep to the plot of the books you’re supposedly creating a series or movie about? I have to put this train wreck of the show under “Queen of the Damned” and before “Starship Troopers” for my “DID YOU EVEN READ THE BOOK?” awards.

  18. KellyV says:

    I just finished reading all 10 books in 2 weeks. I did feel like I missed something about Sookie’s cousin Hadley, so thanks for the tip about the book of short stories.
    I read the books before I saw any of the TrueBlood episodes. I’ve seen all of season 1 now and the first ep of season 2, and I have to say that I have laughed out loud many times at how bad the acting is and how terrible some of the unique-to-TV subplots are. The way Bill says “Sookie” cracks me up every time. Whenever I want to make my husband laugh, I just imitate him and we crack up. (I’m very Southern, by the way, so I am picky about Southern accents. Very few folks on the show nail it.) Or we make that fwoosh-fwoosh-fwoosh sound and pretend to move real fast like a vampire.
    I hope they get better because I have to watch them all now that I’ve started….

  19. Aoife says:

    This made my day, i LOVE the sookie stackhouse series so any excuse to relive the stories is good in my book. I love the fact that the show and books are becoming different with each series, its really clever so that book fans feel like they’re not excluded because they no too much. It makes me hopeful Quinn is left out becuase that whole storyline made me cringe

  20. B.Kienapple says:

    These books (and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) have cured me of my worthless literary snobbery. There’s real substance to be had (as Alan Ball has teased out in the TV show).
    I’m only up to book four but so far the first and forth are my favorites. Oh and Harris is also capable of a very worthy sex scene.

  21. JungheadinPA says:

    If this had been the final question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (“Was True Blood based on actual books?”) I would have lost the million dollars. Even with all my lifelines intact. Because no matter who told me this was a “true fact,” I would have been convinced otherwise. Isn’t Alan Ball the same guy behind Six Feet Under–which was such classy t.v.? What happened? My boyfriend rents this crap (along with “The Lair”–the shows could be ugly twin brothers). Talk about a waste of sexual fantasy. Props for the Full Metal Jacket come-on pun as post title lol. And props to Jessica for predigesting those books for us, so we don’t have to.