607 of 634 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Was DITF a good read? Yes. Is it my favorite book of the series? No.
I think after reading Dead and Gone I expected a lot more to come out of DITF. I thought that I would see more of Bill and Sookie working on their relationship. Be that as friends or more. I expected a great deal about Sookie and Eric. I thought that Alcide would play more of a role especially after Tray. I even thought Quinn might show back up. While we got some answers about Eric and Sookie several more were brought to the surface. Bill and Alcide were just glazed over essentially and Quinn was never mentioned. This booked seemed unfinished almost as if it were a stepping stone to the next book.
Several plot lines were introduced bought not resolved. This book could have been magnificent but it wasn't.
The problem I have with this book is that I can't sit here and tell you what BIG thing happened. Several little things were brought about, but no big climax. The story flowed nicely but if felt like it was just a normal Sookie day sitting out in the sun waiting for something bad to happen. While I appreciate that Sookie needs time to recover the story lacked momentum.
As a reader I feel that I've waited a year and I didn't get the fix I needed. It's almost as if my book was missing 200 or so pages. The story I received was nice but I keep looking for the next part.
458 of 487 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2010
Make no mistake -- this is not a perfect book, but as it gets much more right than wrong and is much more in keeping with the earlier Sookie novels in tone, I give it the full 5 stars. There are spoilers herein, so beware!
What it gets right: Eric, Sookie gets her moxie back (mostly), Eric gets even more complex character development, the progression in Eric and Sookie's ability to express their love for each other, Bill getting his own Happily Ever After in such an unpredictable but welcome way to tie up his storyline, the return of some of the humor that endeared the early books to so many fans, the deepening friendship between Pam and Sookie, Jason maturing and acting the part of big brother for once, Claude's protectiveness of Sookie, and the more leisurely pacing overall.
I have long been a fan of Eric/Sookie, and I was definitely pleased with how things progress between them in this book. The mutual admissions of love were lovely (from Eric: "When my eyes open, I think of you, of every part of you" and "If this is not true love, it's as close as anyone gets"). It seems that Sookie is less and less concerned about the blood bond and is now acknowledging to herself and Eric that her feelings are as genuine as his. They laugh, banter, flirt, argue (and make up!), support each other, share emotions and secrets, express their love and protect each other fiercely.
I must say that I was surprised in reading the more negative reviews to see how many were penned by professed Eric/Sookie fans, who were lamenting the lack of sizzle and romantic tension. It seems to me that there is still sizzle between them, but the sexual tension is naturally tamped down to some extent now that the chase is over and they have settled into a relationship. I think Ms. Harris is attempting to show us what Eric and Sookie would be like as a couple leading their day-to-day lives, if they stay together. This is something many fans have long wanted, and I want to go on record as saying "Bravo!"
I absolutely loved the way that Ms. Harris gave Bill his own happiness -- it was such a unique and unpredictable plot twist (in my eyes anyway). Pam, as always, is hysterical with her dry humor and her sly teasing of Eric and Sookie.
It was a very welcome change for Sookie, albeit changed in some fundamental ways over the course of the series, to be more herself in this book. The characterization seemed so off in the previous novel, and I was glad to see it all back on-course with this one. One of the funnier moments was when Pam, looking disgusted at needing to relay this information on, tells Sookie that Eric says he is proud of her (for her part in a fight she and Pam end up in). I also welcomed Sookie starting to ask herself some hard questions about what she truly wants from life and what being a human or turned into a vampire might mean for her. We fans know that Ms. Harris has promised that Sookie will never be a vampire, but Sookie doesn't know this of course. So, it was good to finally see her debating the questions of aging vs. immortality (although with all these vampires dying a final death in Harris' novels, immortality is looking like it's not all it's cracked up to be!), having children and the fact that most vampires she knows were turned in the prime of their life.
Now, what did it get wrong? Well, I do agree with the reviewers who think the book suffered from lack of a cohesive driving plot line. It did feel more episodic than the other novels, but again, I thought the previous novel had far too many plot lines going on. The pacing was good for this one, but it lacked momentum and/or a central organizing plot. Ms. Harris did say that it wasn't until she finished the book that she identified the one unifying thread was the subject of family bonds.
Despite the news that Ms. Harris has at least two continuity editors reading the drafts (not to mention the publisher's paid editing staff), there are still lots of consistency errors and glitches. They were not as distracting in this novel, admittedly, but I do wonder why this many pairs of eyes are not catching some of these problems at the outset.
My biggest substantive complaint centers around the planned side-trip to Sam's brother's wedding. I wish Sookie would just tell Sam what she was thinking: that when she agreed to go, she and Eric were not in a solid relationship but now they are. But, as it seems this is the point of a novella coming out this winter, it looks like it is going to happen. So now I just have to assume that Eric was somehow persuaded to be in favor of this trip to family wedding with Sam. I'll be anxious to see how that all plays out.
Finally, I think many reviewers may not be aware that Harris was attempting to answer some fan questions from her site's boards and from signings in the early sections of this book. To those who weren't aware of what she was doing, it's easy to see how they might be confused by the "checklist" tone and by some of the information included as an aside here and there.
If Ms. Harris were reading this, I would say thank you for such a great novel, I thoroughly enjoyed the read! I also would suggest that she tell her publisher that she won't write to a deadline any longer. I think that the strain of putting out one Sookie book every May, in addition to her other writing and commitments like touring and conventions, is showing. Speaking as a huge fan of her work, I would much prefer to wait longer for the next books and have them be stronger works for having the extra time.
312 of 338 people found the following review helpful
"Dead in the Family" has a very appropriate title -- all sorts of family members pop up, and not just for Sookie. Charlaine Harris still can whips up a pleasant warm Southern vibe for her not-so-urban fantasies, but unfortunately this latest novel isn't quite up to her usual standards: it's basically a mass of fluffy in-between storylines that rarely go anywhere.
Just after Amelia leaves for New Orleans, Sookie's cousin Claude appears at her home and asks to move in with her, since he's a lone fairy who needs the presence of another. Bill is suffering from silver poisoning AND depression, and Sookie has to find a "relative" who can help him. And Eric has some family issues as well -- his maker Appius Livius Ocella shows up on Sookie's doorstep, along with his "son"/lover Alexei.
To make matters worse, unidentified fairies and weres have been crossing Sookie's land,, and it also turns out that there's a dead body buried back there. And it's not Debbie Pelt's. Now Sookie must unravel the secrets plaguing the supernaturals around her, or there might be even more deaths.
"Dead in the Family" feels like Charlaine Harris wrote half-a-dozen short stories, ripped them apart at the seams, and then sewed them back together. There's no central plot to this book, just a mass of fluffy subplots woven loosely around each other. And some of the stories don't really have much point to them, so the book feels cluttered and fragmented.
The saving grace is that some of those subplots ARE interesting, mainly the ones that develop the characters -- the whole subplot involving Bill and the elderly Caroline Bellefleur is quite sweet and touching, and it should be interesting to see where Harris takes the religious/political pressure on the weres. And the typically bloody climax is a pretty shocking, gruesome one, if a bit slapdash.
But Sookie's characterization is very shaky in this book -- Harris zooms through her entire recovery from being TORTURED in ONE CHAPTER (ARG! Cop-out!), and initially she seems so aggressive that it feels like she's channeling Anita Blake. Fortunately she gets steadier and sunnier after the first few chapters, and it's intriguing to see her various family members interacting with her -- fae, were and telepathic human.
And there's some much-needed development given to the sexy, devil-may-care Claude (it's very cute when he's goofing around on the playground with Hunter), as well as new insights into Bill and Eric's lives and families (both living and undead).
"Dead in the Family" is all about the family ties, but it feels like Charlaine Harris just whipped together a bunch of short story ideas rather than writing a cohesive plot. Better luck next time.
61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am a huge fan of the Sookie books and of the development of Sookie and Eric's relationship overall. I pre-ordered this book and anticipated it with so much joy and excitement...only to have it arrive, read through it in a day (my usual with this series), and emerge finding myself severely disappointed.
I'm left with the feeling that there was no one main storyline, but a bunch of little intermingled story lines. I lacked the fervent compulsion to continue reading that I had experienced with the other books in the series. I was disappointed with the amount of "Page Time" given to Eric/Sookie interactions, and to Sookie's recovery, and Sookie's first visit to Eric's house, and...on and on it goes. The ending felt a little anticlimactic to me as well, as if I had just read a 310 page preface to Book 11. It was like the roadside attractions you'd see in between a tour of NYC and Miami...just bland compared to the true metropolitan gems in the trip.
Another reviewer stated here that they had read better fanfiction than this, and I can't help but agree. It's a harsh statement to make, but it seems almost like the author's lost her passion to tell this story.
Here's hoping Ms. Harris will troll some fanfic sites before writing Book 11, or will fall back in love with Sookie and Eric and craft another masterwork of fiction, like the earlier books in the series! I'll still read the next book, but I won't set my hopes as high next time...and I'll keep reading the great Eric / Sookie fanfic out there to tide me over.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2010
After my disappointment with the frenetic pace and poor plotting in Dead and Gone, I was afraid that Charlaine Harris had become bored with the series and it was time for me to move on. Fortunately, in Dead in the Family, she brings back many of the skills, not least of all the humor, that made her early work so enjoyable! She also ties up many of the threads that were left hanging by the last book, and the slower pacing helps with that. It also allows her to focus on family relationships and character building, which are Harris' strengths. After ten books in as many years, readers have come to care about these characters, and it was a pleasure to have a book that took the time to explore the growth and change of some of the major characters, and observe their interactions when they're not in the middle of a crisis. This gave readers the chance to reconnect with Sookie and her world. Thus, we have the chance to *see* Sookie and Eric "dating" (until a crisis hits), and *see* rather than being told about Sookie and Sam interacting as friends. It was also nice to finally see the blending of Amnesiac Eric and Real Eric, which helped equalize his relationship with Sookie. And Sookie even has time for reflection on what she wants out of life (though she's still afraid to accept fully her feelings for Eric), and spend some time caring for a child.
There was some nice incorporation of items/events/Sookie's passing thoughts from previous books: the Compton family Bible; Caroline Bellefleur's award-winning cake; the St. Petersburg massacre caused by the Maenad; and Sookie picking up Eric's towels. We even get confirmation that Eric really did read Shakespeare. There were also the little touches that make a Charlaine Harris book so believable, despite the paranormal setting, such as a manuscript on Viking history that was waiting for Eric's endorsement.
The book certainly wasn't perfect. As others have said, too much time was wasted bringing readers up to speed on past events, and there were moments that felt as if Harris was trying to answer a question, rather than tell the story. But it was such an improvement over the last book, that I'm extremely relieved.
I'm giving it only four stars for two reasons. First, the character of Appius was ultimately very unsatisfying, which is especially disappointing in light of how good Harris usually is at characterizations. He was potentially very central to Sookie's story, and could have added more depth to Eric's story. Yet we never discovered why he came to Eric when he did, and consequently I never felt I understood what made him "tick." Appius seemed almost a cross between Niall (a powerful ancestor who is brought in to flesh out a main character in the story, inadvertently causes the death of several characters, and then disappears) and Godric from True Blood (who lived during the time of Jesus, but didn't meet him).
Second, despite the addition of a second continuity editor, there were still several errors that should have been caught, some minor (such as Judith's hair color) and some more significant (such as Lorena and her maker; a vampire's reaction to fairy blood; the fact that Sookie never senses Pam though Pam also has Eric's blood - in fact, she's had Sookie's). So, while there were far fewer continuity errors in this book than the last, Harris could clearly benefit from having a continuity editor who actually *likes* the character of Eric, and doesn't miss vampire-related mistakes.
78 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2010
Sorry to see Charlaine Harris join the list of writers who are so driven by deadline pressure they can't create. Remember what we all learned in elementary school, faced with that blank sheet of paper? You can't just order up creativity and expect it to be good. This is the third one of my favorite authors with series pressure to dissapoint. Beware when an author thanks so many other people for their "help"! Last time I looked, most great fiction was not written by a committee. Harris is brilliant, when Harris is writing. This looked like an outline, with some help from Harris and a lot of suggestions from other people. People saying, write about Alcide. Write about politics. Write about fairy politics, etc. There is no plot, no main conflict, no main resolution, no basic novel elements. And we know Harris can write one hell of a plot when she is on her game. I would rather the publisher just said "Harris has writer's block" than churn out this overpriced drivel with her name on it. I would be willing to wait. And tell the darn committee to leave her alone.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2010
I have bought and read every single one of the Sookie Stackhouse books and I have watched True Blood obsessively, multiple times.
The central story that Vampires have 'come out of the coffin' following the invention of synthetic blood, thrills me. It's fresh, interesting and has scope and mileage that many other vampire stories are seriously lacking. The relationship trials are intriguing, the cultural invention and interaction between vampires and the two-natured works well and all in all it's a good idea, executed in a frustratingly middling way.
As I've read these stories, I've been struck by how terrible a writer Charlaine Harris is. The vocabulary is limited, the 'word of the day' is always painfully shoehorned in, many characters are poorly formed (why are Tara and Sookie friends? Where did Claudine turn up from?) and following a strong start with a murderer in Bon Temps, the stories have veered off into the ludicrous, culminating in a world of faeries with Niall and his kingdom providing a shark-jumping extravaganza to rival the Fonz.
In this last book, Dead in the Family, nothing really happens. Some characters that we have not been introduced to previously, are brought into the story and killed off before they've had a chance to do anything of note. In fact, Sookie seems to spend most of this book waiting for Eric to phone her. It's that exciting, folks. Real edge-of-seat stuff.
Still though, ker-ching! Keep milking the cash cow, Charlaine!
I have read far better fanfic than this book. For example, 'Dead on the Crossroads' (Google it) is a great example of what can be done with a little flair and imagination when someone other than Charlaine Harris takes the helm. Sure, it has a few typos and grammatical errors, but it's bursting full of imagination that Dead in the Family is completely lacking.
In summary, Charlaine Harris is in the enviable position of being able to rattle off any old rubbish and make a killing. This book is a prime example of someone resting on their laurels and expecting the cash to come flowing in. And the sad thing is, it will. Quality won't matter to many of the hordes drawn in by True Blood.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2010
My 3 star review of Dead in the Family (DITF) is generous given that this book felt like a haphazard slapstick piece of work. Given the success of the books, that are now a popular HBO Series True Blood, it appears as though Charlaine Harris doesn't regard her work very highly and merely gave us a 300 page mess of plots to keep us going and an adventure into the rabbit hole that is Sookie's head.
It was nice to see that Sookie for once was not dealing with another battle and had 300 pages to recover and heal but what's up with all the heartache? Couldn't you give the woman a proper sex scene and some alone time with her lover? Why bring in the maker and a troubled vampire child? That seemed completely irrelevant.
Many of the plot lines stopped and ended abruptly. Vampire Bill's silver poisoning from the Fae War in book 9 was resolved with a quick email to his sister. Something Bill couldn't have done himself given his maker is dead and he's the creator of the mass database? Why did Sookie have to step in and save the day? This could have provided for a good resolution to their inner conflict and a way for Sookie and Bill to heal their relationship instead of sending him off to be with his sister. Instead Sookie gets a note shoved under the door as a way of thank you.
Another startling revelation was the appearance of Dermot. This could have made for quite an interesting plot and an opportunity for us to learn more about his character. Instead we learned he's under a spell, that Claude has some magic to heal him, and Sookie has the answer - a kiss. Voila! The spell is broken and another missed chance at learning about this elusive character.
The books hints heavily at the fact that Sookie and Eric might not end up together. Sookie oddly seems content with this. I'm sure fans are not. I wasn't. Who's left for Sookie? There's mention of the troubled angry pack leader Alcide but only because she was under the influence of a drug to be his shaman at a were meeting.
In the end, there is little resolution and you're left wanting more. The only action in the book comes in the last few pages during the deaths of a fairy that we learn little to nothing about (he appears to be Claudine's lover) and Eric's maker and brother. Then, the whole lot of the pack is rushed off to their places of rest and Sookie ends up in bed with her two fairy family members which is a little disturbing but she finds comfort in it. Wouldn't this have been an opportunity for her to go home with Eric considering she hardly saw him throughout the entire book? It's like they've already broken up.
This book was a filler at best. I have no idea where Harris plans to take the plot from here but I'm hoping we learn more in the next book. I don't want to wait a year and read another mess of subplots and half baked theories.
48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2010
I never really paid attention to how quickly Ms. Harris knocks out the Sookie books before now. After looking at how many different series she has going and how often she publishes in each series - every year; I think it's about time she missed a deadline or two for the sake of artistic creativity. Every chapter seemed devoted to answering some question from the fandom community rather than the author's view of the world she created, which is why I believe this book comes across so choppy and weak. I would much rather have waited another year or two so that I could have read the caliber of storytelling I experienced with her first several Sookie books.
Also, I am quite peeved about having to get this book at the store rather than on my kindle. This story wasn't worth a hardcover price, nor was it even worth a paperback price.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I'm going to agree with all the other disappointed fans. The majority of the book is filled with random subplots of little or no interest. For a Sookie Stackhouse book, this is a slow read because you are not invested in any of the characters in the mini-plots. The new characters don't have any depth or entertaining quirks. There is no sense of looming danger or conflicted love. I am glad another reviewer mentioned fan fiction. The fan stories sound like a better alternative than this book.
This book really deserves a 1-star review, but I'm letting the disappointed Kindle owners take the 1-star rating. BTW Kindle owners, you don't need to rush for this one.