REVIEW: 'Club Dead' by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead by Charlaine HarrisClub Dead (2003) finds Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend, Bill Compton, arriving at a crossroads in their relationship. Remembering all that they’ve been through in the previous two books, it comes as no surprise but I am a little disappointed that things dissolved so quickly in their relationship.

Twenty-six year old Sookie Stackhouse lives in a small, rural town, north of Louisiana. She’s a barmaid at Merlotte’s and the girlfriend of Bill Compton, a vampire and Civil war veteran. Since hooking up with Bill, Sookie has been reluctantly drawn into the supernatural community.

Needless to say, she has a special gift that fascinates them: she can read minds. Her gift (or curse) of telepathy has made her an oddity within her own community and it’s a major deterrent for her dating regular guys. Reading other people’s thoughts was a nuisance for her until she met Bill. He was a godsend to her since she couldn’t read his thoughts. Through Bill’s instruction, Sookie’s been able to control her gift and eventually, she becomes sought after within the supernatural community.

As a couple, Sookie and Bill have weathered some stormy days together. However, there remains the fact that their worlds are so vastly different, and this difference makes their relationship vulnerable to the challenges that face them from the outside world.

What I enjoy most about this series, is that the author constructs a society where vampires are recognized as existing alongside humans but beyond that, they lack the rights that humans take for granted. There are the usual social issues of class discrimination, inter-species disconnect, the usual hierarchical power structure and politics, territory and boundaries that embody their world. In Club Dead, Sookie gets herself entrenched further than she’s ever been, within this supernatural world, in order to save her man.

Sookie’s been informed that Bill has been kidnapped right after learning that he has lied and betrayed her. She is left conflicted. He was working on a secret project for another vampire, who happens to be the Queen of Louisiana, before he was snatched. Sookie gets a quick lesson on what vampire has what territory in Louisiana and the complicated politics that go along with it.

Eric, who is Bill’s boss, is a master vampire who runs a tourist bar in Shreveport. Sookie’s worked for him before on a couple of assignments. She learns that Eric was unaware of Bill’s project but aside from that matters have become complicated. Bill was kidnapped by another vampire from another state. Thus, Eric can’t rescue Bill without starting a war. So, Sookie finds herself lulled back into the dangerous world of the supernatural, allowing Eric to arrange for her an escort, a werewolf named Alcide, to help her rescue Bill. Together, with Eric working undercover, they go on a rescue mission that leaves Sookie battered up good in this entry.

Another reason why I enjoy this series is because of Sookie and the secondary characters that make up this small, rural community. Their absence stuck out for me in this entry. Of course I missed Bill, too. He stayed mostly absent since he was kidnapped. There’s a bit of humor to lighten things up, especially with the ongoing “inside joke” if you will relating to “Bubba” the vampire from Tennessee, who bears a striking resemblance to Elvis Presley (except you better not tell him that), who upon occasion, provides security for Sookie, when Bill is away.

This series is all about Sookie. She is at times smart and charismatic. I like that she pokes fun at herself. She does come across as just a regular person who has all these weird and extraordinary experiences that sometimes consumes her life. In Club Dead, she proves that she is pretty tough and that there is more to her than meets the eye. When all is said and done, Sookie will always try to do the right thing, but not always. I think the author has it right, in balancing her strengths and weaknesses.

Of course, you can add my complaints with others who may find Sookie’s endless list of wanna be suitors a tad bit annoying. I really like Eric and find him very sexy but I hope that Sookie doesn’t end up with him. Also, I like the fact that Sookie has other issues to deal with outside the supernatural community and that the cause and effect of her working for them is addressed in the story.

Again, the fantasy construct of Harris’s vampire community is unoriginal and familiar. Harris did add one twist to her vampires in that they can be photographed and that relates to Bill’s secret project, which I won’t elaborate on further. Continuing on, you have the drinking of blood related to sexual gratification, the power of vampire blood to make humans stronger (older the vampire, greater the potency), the blood as a healing property, and last but not least, the sense of community with customs, lineage, and traditions that make for interesting reading.

In the end, Club Dead was enjoyable but it wasn’t a fast read nor will it be a favorite of mine in the series. I’m leaning more towards a solid B because the story is very readable, character development was nicely done but there were some slow parts (mainly when Sookie is away from home) and I missed the Bon Temps community because for me, they make this series stand out from the other lame vampire stories that seem to read alike these days. More importantly, I like Sookie, because her Southern charm has grown on me. Anyway, I look forward to reading the next Sookie Stackhouse adventure. My grade, B/B-.

*****

This post is apart of the TBR Day event that me and my fellow readers are participating in until December 08. Please be sure to check out the other participants and happy reading.

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Grade B Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to REVIEW: 'Club Dead' by Charlaine Harris

  1. Sarai says:

    I really liked this book but i prefer the next one the best. Great review Sookie is a breath of fresh air someone I enjoy reading about. I am disappointed that Bill and her ended as quickly as they did though.

    My review is up! Found a 1994 one to post *g*

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Hi Sarai, after reading Dead to the World, I think I will stop for some fresh air. I really liked Bill and Sookie as a couple. Too bad that Ms. Harris doesn’t. Off to read your review!

  3. ames says:

    This series is all about Sookie. And she does have hidden strengths that take people by surprise.

    I don’t know, I never really cared for Bill. LOL I’m an Eric fan.

  4. Avid Reader says:

    I don’t know, I never really cared for Bill. LOL I’m an Eric fan

    I like Eric too because he makes it clear where his intentions lie and he just oozes sex appeal. But I liked Bill. He seemed more muted and held his intensity inside. I agree with you about Sookie and that facet of her character is nice.

  5. Angie says:

    Yep. I’ve got real estate in the Eric camp. But I understand how you feel, Keishon. A break after book 4 would probably be a good idea. But do continue on when you’re ready. I really liked the most recent installment and it takes place entirely in Bon Temps–my favorite.

  6. Jan says:

    I have the new book in this series, but haven’t read it yet. I know once I read it I’ll have to wait another year for a new one! I really like Bill (partly because he seems so ordinary for a vampire)–though I can see Eric’s appeal. Good review!

  7. Pingback: Memory | Literary Escapism

  8. Lisa says:

    I never really liked Bill, but I LOVE Eric. I really like Sam a lot too.

    My review for this month is up at http://bookslistslife.blogspot.com/2008/05/tbr-day-toddler-edited-by-jennifer.html

    It kinda veered into the personal, part of my book made a huge difference in my daily life and I went with it, hope that’s ok!

  9. LesleyW says:

    My review is up too. 🙂

    Arrgghh. I’ve got to get back to reading the Sookie series. Kind of stalled out at book 7 I think, when it became harder to get holder of the books in the UK because of the switch to UK publisher. But your reviews make me want to get back into it.

  10. Robin says:

    I love this review; it does a great job of capturing the essence of Harris’s world and reminds me of where I was with the series when I read this book.

    Keishon, you have many twists and turns ahead of you in the Eric – Bill – Sookie triangle; just when I thought I wanted Bill to die, something happened to make me like him again. And while I spent several books not wanting Eric to be the one, he has grown on me, and I believe that his loyalty to Sookie (and his feelings) are genuine and deep. At book whatever this last one was (7 or 8?), Eric and Bill are so entrenched in the series and in Sookie’s life that I cannot imagine either of them gone, although I don’t know which, if either, she will end up with. Vampires in general still represent numerous compromises and sacrifices for a human mate. I definitely think the series is still going strong, though.

  11. Avid Reader says:

    Hi Lisa, your comment was stuck in my spam box (sorry about that!) and yes, the books you choose to review is open to any genre, any format. This is suppose to FUN!

    Hi Robin, thanks for the heads up on the continued dynamics between Bill, Eric and Sookie. It should be interesting and I can’t wait.

    Also, Lisa and Lesley, it isn’t necessary to leave your link (unless you want to) since I have everybody who is participating, all on one page here. This is the list I go through at the end of the day. [Had to edit for typos]

  12. Li says:

    I’m in the Eric camp myself, but I agree with Lisa – I’ve a soft spot for Sam!

    PS I haven’t clicked through to your blog lately, but I love your theme! Very clean design, but with lovely unique touches.

  13. Avid Reader says:

    Thanks Li! I didn’t realize Eric (from the Harris series) was so popular.

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