Sunday, June 26, 2011

Read & React: Dead Until Dark - Part 2

Welcome, y'all, and thank you for joining me for our second Read & React!

This time, we'll search for bodies and go clubbing, in Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, which is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Please join me as I read (& react!) for the very first time to this highly praised novel.

Before we begin, a quick note on spoilers: There will be some (OK lots) - but only for the chapters actually covered in the post, and as we go on, the chapters that have been covered in previous weeks.  I may also make comparisons between the chapters covered and all seasons of HBO's adaptation of the series, True Blood.

As far as the comment section, please join in!!  I want to know what you think of my commentary, of the story itself, the characters, everything!  But if you've read the series before, or read ahead in this book, please don't let anything slip about what's coming up next!  Thanks in advance!

So put on your best clubbing clothes and let's go!


What Happens:

The next morning, Sam Merlotte calls Sookie and tells her that Dawn hasn't come in to work again, and asks if Sookie would please stop by Dawn's house on her way in to the bar and remind Dawn that she's supposed to come to work once in awhile.  Sookie really doesn't want to get involved, and reluctantly agrees.  She pulls on her uniform and drives over to Dawn's house, where she meets Rene Lenier and realizes that he lives right across the street from Dawn.  When Dawn doesn't answer her knock at the front door, she heads around to the back and peeks in the bedroom window, with Rene in tow.  From the way Dawn's body is sprawled across the bed, Sookie knows at once that Dawn is dead, and sends Rene to call the police.  A short time later both Sam and the police arrive, and while Sam lets the police into the house (turns out he's the landlord), Andy Bellefleur questions Sookie.  They have a rather heated discussion, and Sookie accidentally reads his mind, and Andy catches her at it, and tries to provoke her into reading it again and proving that she can.  She also tries to read Sam thoughts, but somehow he can feel what she's doing and he shuts her out of his head.

She finally gets to work and tells Arlene, Lafayette and Terry Bellefleur (Andy's cousin, a Vietnam veteran who sometimes tends bar for Sam) about Dawn's death.  When Sam arrives later in the morning, he has new information - Dawn had vampire bite marks, and was strangled to death, just like Maudette.  Sookie hears Sam's tone and reminds him that there are lots of vampires other than Bill.
"It made me remember how he'd held my hand at Dawn's house, and then I remembered how he'd shut me out of his mind, known I was probing, known how to keep me out.  "Honey, Bill is a good guy, for a vampire, but he's just not human."
"Honey, neither are you," I said, very quietly but very sharply."
 That night she goes home, exhausted, and finds Bill waiting for her.  She tells him about Dawn's murder, and is relieved when he doesn't know which one of the waitresses was Dawn.  Bill tells her that if a vampire was the murderer, the bodies would have been completely drained of blood, and not strangled.  During the conversation she mentions Andy Bellefleur, and Bill has a very odd reaction to the name.
"There are still Bellefleurs here," he said, and there was something different in his voice.  His arms hardened around me to the point of pain."
 She tells Bill that both Dawn and Maudette were known to frequent Fangtasia, a vampire bar in Shreveport, and since Sookie doesn't think that Andy Bellefleur cares enough to follow all the leads, she asks Bill if he will take her there on her next night off from work.  He reluctantly agrees.


Another dead body!  With fang marks!  Poor Dawn - we knew ye not at all.  Bill is probably right that a vampire would not have been able to leave a dead body full of blood, and so therefore the murderer is human.  I found it interesting that in this story, the vampires don't seem to mind drinking blood from dead bodies, where in other vampire stories that isn't always the case.

The conversation Sookie had with Andy was significant, I think, in showing Andy's feelings and prejudices, but also gave quite a bit of insight into his personality, and shows that he really isn't the dumb cop that most of the town thinks he is.

Also, Sookie seems to narrow in on the fact that Sam isn't completely human, based on how he was able to keep her out of his mind, but at the same time she doesn't seem terribly concerned about the fact that her boss isn't completely human.  Hello!  What the heck?!  But I guess if you can date someone who isn't human, you probably don't care if your boss isn't human.

Chapter 4

What Happens:

Over the next two days, the town folk become more worried and concerned.  Sookie is constantly told to be careful, to lock her door, don't let anyone in the house.  Then Sookie's brother Jason comes under suspicion when the police find out that Jason dated both Dawn and Maudette.

The evening of the second day, Sookie gets dressed up for trip to Fangtasia, unsure at first what to wear, and finally settling for a little white sleeveless dress.  Bill picks her up in his car, and they drive to Shreveport, listening to Kenny G on the stereo.  Entering the club, Sookie is shocked and amazed at the clientele dressed up in their vampire finest, and the vampires themselves in their silent, stony glory.  Bill introduces her to the bartender, Long Shadow, and she politely asks him if he has ever seen either Dawn or Maudette, producing pictures of the two women from her purse, adding a picture of Jason as the last moment.  Long Shadow says he's never seen Jason before, but admits that the two women have both been in the bar before.

Bill buys her a drink and a synthetic blood for himself, and they sit in a booth, where Bill is continually hit on by multiple women and one young man, all eager to have a vampire companion.  After a while, Bill takes her over to introduce her to Eric, who is sitting in another booth with a female vampire named Pam.  They both admit to seeing Dawn and Maudette in the club before, but know nothing about them.  Bill and Sookie return to their booth and get into a small argument, and Sookie, out of boredom, lowers her guard and begins to listen to the thoughts of the customers around her.  Most of them are solely focused on sex, but she receives a bit of a shock when she realizes that one of them is an undercover cop who is heading into the bathroom where he knows that a vampire is feeding on a human and has already called for police backup.  She tells Bill and he begins to hustle her out of the bar, pausing only to warn Eric and Long Shadow that the club is about to be raided.  As they are leaving, Sookie accidentally tells Eric that she knew about the raid because she read the cops' mind, which definitely peaks Eric's interest in her.

On the way home to Bon Temps, they kiss in the car and are interrupted by a cop.  Bill almost loses his control and Sookie mistakes his withdrawal as not wanting her.  When they reach her home, she thanks him for taking her and promises not to pester him again.
"He stood still.  Finally he said, "You - are - incredibly - naive."   "

Well," I said blankly.  "I am?"  "

"Or maybe one of God's fools," he said, and that sounded a lot less pleasant, like Quasimodo or something."
She promises not to call him again and goes into the house.


OMG!  Bill the Vampire loves Kenny G!  Ha!

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

So we finally get to meet Eric and Pam, and see Fangtasia for what I'm assuming will be the first of many, many times.  Eric is older and stronger than Bill, and Sookie definitely should not have told him that she can read minds - that will most definitely come back to haunt her!

And she really is naive, not realizing that Bill's sudden coolness towards her on the way home has nothing to do with disliking her, and everything to do with liking her too much and not wanting to lose control and take the risk of harming her.

Differences Between the Book and True Blood:

Pretty much we are still on track, with very few differences between the show and the book.  The main differences I've noticed are:
  • Terry Bellefleur is described as a veteran of the Vietnam War, which would make him a bit older than Sookie, Arlene and the rest - while in True Blood, he is closer to their age and suffers from PTSD due to his being in Afghanistan.
  • Rene isn't living with Arlene, but still ends up across the street from Dawn's house.
  • And...Um...I think that's it.  At least I don't remember anything else.

So please leave YOUR commentary below, but remember, if you've read ahead, don't spoil anything for those of us who haven't!  Thanks for joining, and we hope to see you for the next edition of...DEAD UNTIL DARK!


  1. I hurried through these two chapters last night after getting home (I had purposely left my nook at home over the weekend so I wouldn't be tempted).

    So still only a few thoughts:
    1. for Sookie being so careful to conceal her disability all her life, she seems to be letting it slip out quite a bit.
    2. I think it seems quite obvious that the killers are trying to set up the vampires, how many in town know about Bill?
    3. Is JB important at all or just some background person?
    4. Sookie is crazy! Who would want to go to a vamp bar and start asking questions?! so dangerous!
    5. Eric is a little creepy, but seems to be a decent vamp.
    6. Poor Bill, trying to be so good and Sookie is so clueless, maybe because she is so use to being able to read thoughts that she can't actually read signals?!

  2. @~Ang
    You made some excellent points that I hadn't even thought of! I think Sookie is definitely clueless re: body language and signals, as she's so used to hearing thoughts. Even though she tries to keep that guard up most of the time, there's a lot that still manages to seep through.

    JB - I don't know if he's going to be important later on or not. He seemed so random that i left him out of my narrative to save time, but he might show up again later on - we'll see!

    And as for your first point, I think you hit the nail on the head! Everyone in Bon Temps knows (or suspects) what she can do, to some degree or another, but even so she's been pretty careful since childhood to pass it off as reading facial expressions or whatever to try to hide her ability - But she tells Bill and suddenly it seems she's slipping up left and right, either outright telling people or reacting when she shouldn't! Girl needs to be more careful, is what I'm sayin'!

  3. It's been a while since I read this book, but I remember loving it and especially loving that first meeting of Eric. I remember being completely wowed by him from the off and preferring him over Bill even from his first appearance.

    On the difference with Terry between the book and the show, there's also a 10 year difference here, as the book as originally published in 2001, so although there'd be an age difference, it wouldn't be quite so pronounced then as it would be now. However, I really like how they've portrayed Terry in the show and the switch to a more recent war hasn't detracted from him at all, but has perhaps made him and his condition more relevant instead.

  4. @diaryofadomesticgoddess Hi Domestic Goddess! Thanks for stopping in! I agree with you re: Terry - I think a lot of today's viewers might, in most cases, not have as clear of a memory of the Vietnam War. and while the Veterans who made it home from that war dealt with some impossibly difficult issues, I think that by switching Terry's war to the Middle East made his plight stronger and more understandable to people who may have been too young to remember the similar issues after Vietnam. Good points, Thanks!!

  5. Sounds like Terry is yet another reason (along with Lafayette) to track down those old True Blood episodes.