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410 of 440 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one grabs you by the throat...
sorry, that was bad! I am a big Charlaine Harris fan and only mildly interested in vampires. But the combination of a an uncontrollably mind-reading heroine, newly legal vampires, a serial killer, a shape-shifter -- how could I resist? I find I don't want to say much at all about the plot, as it's too easy to give away some really exciting twists. It's fair to say...
Published on July 29, 2001 by Susan Shedd

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156 of 187 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not even worth finishing...
First of all, apologies to all of you who are huge fans of this series of books. I'm sure you'll hate this review, but remember, this is just one person's opinion.

I was drawn to this series due to all of the press it's been receiving lately, and also because I'm up for a good, escapist vampire novel now and then. I actually bought the whole box set when it...
Published on December 6, 2008 by A. CLARK


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410 of 440 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one grabs you by the throat..., July 29, 2001
By 
Susan Shedd (South Woodbury, VT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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sorry, that was bad! I am a big Charlaine Harris fan and only mildly interested in vampires. But the combination of a an uncontrollably mind-reading heroine, newly legal vampires, a serial killer, a shape-shifter -- how could I resist? I find I don't want to say much at all about the plot, as it's too easy to give away some really exciting twists. It's fair to say that the story postulates vampires as a newly-emerged legal minority (word is they've been victimized by superstition, when really the poor people have been subjected to a terrible virus) with attendant vampire-philics and phobics roiling the waters of cultural change. Vampires can now subsist on artificial blood, so they don't have to be a danger to anyone. Harris has thought through vampire culture and the interaction of that culture with "normal" society to great effect -- the book would be fun to read just for that .
I have to admit, though, that nothing about the vampires interested me as much as the main character, Sookie. If you think you want to be able to know what other people are thinking, the limitations of Sookie's life will make you think again. She's brave, brilliant and decent and watching her (and her sex life) develop is a true joy.
Meanwhile, the book is tightly and extravagantly plotted and the psychological effects are fascinating and disturbing, absolutely gripping. Read it over a weekend or on vacation so you won't have to put it down -- you'll just have to know what happens next!
Harris has set this up to continue as a series, and if she can continue this level of quality, people will be lining up for each new book.
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166 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much better than average vampire mystery novel, May 22, 2001
By 
Sookie Stackhouse lives in a world like ours - except for one difference, 4 years ago Vampires "came out of the coffin" and are now a legal part of USA society. In this way it's somewhat like the situation in the Anita Blake (author Laurel Hamilton) novels, but in someways I think better written in this book.
Sookie herself is unusual with a disability that makes dating a virtual impossiblity until a vampire comes to town and she discovers he's her (almost) perfect man. Unfortunatley, at the same time people start getting killed, which most of the locals see as an unlikely co-incidence, and in a small town that can almost be deadly itself.
The author has written a very readable book here. I'm not sure if it's the start of a series or not - if it's not - then it's still an enjoyable stand alone novel. Her characters are believable and likeable, and I don't remember any slow patches that make your attention wander. In fact, I read this in a day - the sign of a very good book for me.
For those people who like fiction that covers, vampires, PSI, alternative realities or mystery fiction, this book pretty well covers all those areas. Enjoy:)
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Blend of Horror and Mystery!, September 26, 2003
Sookie Stackhouse has what she calls a "disability." She's a telepath. Now reading minds sounds like it might be a good thing, but as she points out it sort of gets in the way of relationships, sexual relationships in particularly. It's hard for her to have sex and enjoy it when she knows the man she's with thinks her breasts are too small or maybe he's thinking of someone else. Besides, other people's thoughts bombarding her all day drive her crazy. She works as a waitress in a bar and comes in contact with many people on a daily basis. So for her own sanity, and because she thinks it rude to listen in, she's learn to block out the noise from the minds of others. Then Bill comes into her life. He's the perfect boyfriend because she can't read his thoughts at all. That's because he has a disability of his own. He's dead. He's a vampire. Vampires have recently come out of the closet so to speak and exposed their existence to the world. All of this came about because of the creation of synthetic blood, making it possible for them to exist without preying on unwilling humans. They are the new minority and now wish to coexist with humans. Of course, the vampires-like any minority-have those who hate them. But they also have those who admire and adore them as well. These people are called fang-bangers. Three female fang-bangers suddenly turn up dead, murdered, and the vampires are quickly blamed. Fear fuels the fires of hatred and violence erupts between the humans and the undead. This puts Bill at risk. Also, Sookie fears that she's next on the murderer's list since she has a vampire boyfriend. So, with Bill's help, she uses her "disability" to solve the mystery, and in the process she puts her own life on the line.
This is an extraordinary and original book; full of charm and wit, capturing small-town America to a T. Harris blends together several genres-horror, mystery, and a bit of Gothic romance-with ease and aplomb. She has a straight forward, just between you and me kind of style that's fun and easy to read. One minute she's making you laugh, the next she's sending chills along your spine, and the next she's got you wondering who done it. This book will entertain and keep you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cross between Janet Evanovich and Laurell K. Hamilton., May 28, 2002
Charlaine Harris offers up an original and fun vampire novel with 'Dead Until Dark'.
Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a small contemporary Louisiana town, has led her life trying to protect herself from "her disability"-- a telepathic skill so acute she finds it difficult to block out the thoughts of those around her.
One night when a vampire named Bill enters the bar Sookie is immediately drawn him. He's set apart from people just like she is and she's delighted to discover she can't overhear his thoughts at all. He likewise is surprised he cannot hypnotize her with his power. They find themselves in the awkward position of meeting on almost equal ground. When citizens of the town start showing up murdered, Sookie enlists Bill's help.
The style of 'Dead Until Dark' really reminds me of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. 'Dead Until Dark' is a first person narrative and takes place in an area where everybody knows each other. Sookie also has a grandma who's a character. Sookie is, well, kind of goofy. Her talent for hiding her telepathy is about as great as Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's skill as a bounty hunter.
Bill is rather a "thinking" comtemplative vampire, similar to Anne Rice's Louis, except he accepts himself for what he is. He doesn't reveal much of his past which, no doubt, will unwrap in later installments.
Charlaine Harris portrays the vampire world to be as violent as that portrayed by Laurell K. Hamilton. However, Sookie Stackhouse is no Anita Blake. The novel does slow somewhat in the middle and wraps up rather peremptorily. However, 'Dead Until Dark' is an engaging take on 'life with vampires' and has consistent style. And Sookie is a fun character.
I look forward to Sookie & Bill developing more as characters in future installments and seeing their relationship grow.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Fun I've had reading in a LONG Time!, August 7, 2001
By 
Kathryn J. Lizee (Berea, KY United States) - See all my reviews
I ordered "Dead Until Dark" [....] I got my books in today and because of the very well done jacket cover, found myself pulling it from the pile first. The premise sounded very interesting and atypical of vampire fiction.
I was hooked from the first page and read this book in one sitting. I devoured it (tongue in cheek!)
The 411: Sookie is this waitress in some small town near N'awlins. In this world, which appears to be in the present tense, or not so distant and not too futuristic time, vampires have "come out of the coffin." They're protected legally, though, still treated by many/most as monsters, predators, fiends. Some of the vampires live up to this rep. There are some characters in this book that will make your skin shiver. Others, like the vampire Bill (I'm still laughing at his name. Even Sookie comments on its incongruousness with the glamour associated with vampirism.) ..like Bill, are merely trying to "mainstream" ....live in a human world, at least, after dark.
Sookie is a bit different herself. She has major telepathic abilities. She can hear what folks think. This has been a major deterrant for her meeting and maintaining relationships with guys. Till she meets Bill. For some reason, with Bill, she can't hear his thoughts.
How does she meet Bill? Well, apparently, in this society, there is a black market for vampire blood. Vampires are caught and "drained." Vampire blood is reported to make folks heal miracurously, and/or increase sexual power. Sort of Viagra and the founting of Youth and an All cure rolled into one.
For some, though, drinking vampire blood makes them crazy.
However, this was not a focal point of this book. I thought it might be but it just served as an interesting bit of plot. That's the thing I enjoyed about this book. The author took great care in giving us reasons for everything. In a world that is hard to imagine, she made it easier by bringing its reality to terms we could understand/relate to.
Anyway, Sookie meets Bill by saving his life from two "drainers." When the drainers come to retaliate and nearly kill Sookie, Bill saves her. (Bill..I love it!) Thus begins their relationship. It's rocky, and very disturbing in some points, not easy and certainly questionable. There is also this matter of these murders that keep popping up all over town. Who did it~ is the question on everyone's mind, and Sookie will help...
There are SOOOOOOOOO many wonderful secondary characters. Sam, for instance, Sookie's boss. And Eric, the oldest vampire that Bill knows, who sends sookie flowers that look like vaginas. I got the feeling that there will be another book in this series, because the stories to tell here.
There is humor..lots of it. I was laughing out loud. There was violence, so strong I physically cringed. The sensuality level is pretty intense too, as is the awful humanity in this book as well. We all are, in some ways, monsters.
Anyway, there is so much to say here. I can't say enough great things about this book. I am not someone who reads alot of vampiric fiction, but I drank this one in with relish (and a side of toast!) It's really good stuff.
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156 of 187 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not even worth finishing..., December 6, 2008
By 
A. CLARK (Midwest, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
First of all, apologies to all of you who are huge fans of this series of books. I'm sure you'll hate this review, but remember, this is just one person's opinion.

I was drawn to this series due to all of the press it's been receiving lately, and also because I'm up for a good, escapist vampire novel now and then. I actually bought the whole box set when it came out recently, but am putting my review here (instead of with the boxed set) because I didn't even get past this first book.

The book did not hold my interest at all, and believe me, I tried to like it. I've been attempting to figure out what the problem is. It's not the setting; I was born in Louisiana, so the setting was one of the attractions of the book. It's not the overall, view-from-30,000-feet story; that was fine. So what was it?

I'd have to say it was more structural than anything else, for lack of a better word. I found Ms. Harris' writing to be on par with what an average ninth grader might produce. The characters, even the main ones, were a bit on the superficial side and weren't really fully developed. The plot details were quite boring, not engaging at all. The love scenes were a bit cringe-worthy, reminiscent of scenes from poorly executed smut novels (i.e. just as with smut novels, these parts struck me as nothing more than a fantasy on the part of the author).

Overall, the simple fact that I found the book disappointing *IS* the most disappointing part. That is, if I hadn't had such high hopes, it wouldn't be such a let down. The story and characters had oodles of potential.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Introduction, April 5, 2007
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This book has been popping up in my recommended for you list, forever. I read some reviews and the plot summary and thought it sounded good; but not good enough to make me want to buy it immediately. I added it to my wish list where it got ignored for a long time. Every once in awhile it would pop back up in my recommendation list and I would think about ordering it soon. Then another reviewer, Tom Knapp/Rambles (.net), recommended it to me, so I finally decided to see what this book was all about. I can't believe I waited so long to read this book, I absolutely loved it.

Sookie Stackhouse looks like a normal, pretty woman. However, she's a beauty with a special gift that allows her to hear other's thoughts. Because of this gift, she is looked upon by others with wonder or as some sort of freak. Sookie works as a waitress in the local bar, for a boss who, for some reason, she has trouble reading his thoughts. She doesn't date, has a Small circle of friends and still lives at home with her Grandma. Then one night she saves the new local vampire from some undesirables and her life changes. Then there are murders happening in this small town; Sookie tries to listen to thoughts to see who the killer is.

The difference between this book and other vampire books I have read is that the vampires are not in hiding. Everyone knows there are vampires and restaurants are even serving synthetic blood to their local vampires. I thought it was a unique approach, it gave the story a lot more character and depth, and it leaves the possibilities endless. In this small town people are fascinated with the vampire, are afraid of them and some people just see them as another type of person. It was exciting to watch the vampires integrate with 'normal' society.

Sookie and her vampire, Bill, turn out to be a charming couple. In a lot of ways he is the stereotypical vampire; he is blood thirsty, really pale, cold and extremely strong. Then the writer creates an atypical side to this vampire, he longs to be part of a town and home and he is surprisingly tender and loving with Sookie, her friends and family.

The supporting characters are just as captivating as Sookie and Bill. One of the more surprising and clever parts of the story is the identity of a vampire bodyguard that is hired by Bill to watch over Sookie. I can't say anymore as I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I laughed and laughed, and I am not quite certain if it isn't true! If this was a brand new book, there would be no doubt that a sequel was coming. The author leaves us looking forward to hearing more about Sookie, Bill and the rest of the crew. I can't think of any part of the story that didn't work or flow for me. It was an enjoyable and entertaining read and I am getting the rest of the books in the series, ASAP.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vampire novel with fang-in-cheek humor, May 11, 2001
Charlaine Harris writes a remarkably entertaining mystery that shows Louisiana as a hot bed of people with "gifts" of many sorts. Sookie the telepathic cocktail-waitress; her boyfriend Bill the Vampire; and Sookie's boss Sam who has quite a surprise of his own!
When a young woman turns up strangled, and fang marks shows that she had been fed upon in the not so distant pass, suspicions abound in the tiny town of Bon Temps. And when another victim is found murdered with a similar MO, the long arm of the law starts to rech out towards Sookie's brother who apparently has been having "relations" with both.
Plot twists abound, and the characterizations are wonderful. A fun read that I can highly recommend.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sookie sucks (and she's not even a vampire), November 5, 2009
By 
This review is from: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1) (Paperback)
The first book in the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series that has been turned into the popular HBO series True Blood is actually the basis for the first season of that series. I recently watched both seasons(coming late to the game) and found them amusing since they were somewhat humorous, filled with terrible acting, ridiculous plots and fairly unlikeable characters. In other words: TOTAL TRASH. Yet sometimes you want to be amused by mindless entertainment and in that regard the HBO series does remarkably well. The only point that would improve the series (aside from better writing, better acting, better direction, better special effects and better art direction) would be to eighty-six the gratuitous sex. The same could also be said for the book too and that is only the beginning.

This book is pure wish fulfillment fantasy (like the Twilight series)only with an NC-17 twist. It isn't quite porn (it comes much closer to that in the HBO series) since it leaves out the dirty words but once the virginal Sookie Stackhouse gets into doing the nasty with Vampire Bill - that is pretty much all she does every 10 pages or so. Then add in the fact that every single man (and some women too) that she interacts with desires her, loves her, is falling in love with her and that she is so self-absorbed that she describes herself as pretty with big boobs and usually gives a description of what she's wearing or will be wearing - you've got yourself one shallow, self-centered, uninteresting character.

Sookie's love-interest (well one of them at least)Vampire Bill is a cardboard cut-out with no heart and no soul, just big throbbing man business that he likes to skewer Sookie with constantly. He takes her virginity right after her beloved grandmother (who only is alive for about thirty pages)is murdered and feeds on Sookie for the first time as well. Because right after seeing the woman who raised you in a bloody mess on the kitchen floor you'd definitely want some undead monster sucking your blood. That seems to make sense, right?

In another scene Vampire Bill does Sookie six ways to Sunday in a graveyard when he tunnels up out of the ground. Sookie thought that he could be dead, well, DEAD-ER, so she was glad to see him - I guess really glad because she didn't even say, hey why don't we walk over to your house naked muddy man and get you cleaned up and talk instead of you defiling me in a graveyard?

Vampire Bill also has a secret desire to become a hairdresser since he is always doing Sookie's glorious blonde mane of hair. He picks out her clothes too. He treats her like a doll, a child, a developmentally challenged waif with boobs (which she essentially is) and yet she crows on and on about being a feisty, intelligent, independent woman and yet you never really see that in anything she does particularly in her relationship (which really isn't a relationship - where did the LOVE come from? From minute one Vampire Bill wanted to do her and drink her blood, that isn't love)with Bill.

Her boss Sam is in love with her (he is a shapeshifter who turns into collie to protect her) and she entertains occasional fantasies about him and also Eric, the 1,000 year old former Viking vampire is also in love with her and pursuing her much to Bill's chagrin since Eric is much more powerful (given his age)and about 6 inches taller than he is to boot. But every man who meets Sookie falls in love with her (much like Bella in the Twilight series), desires her, will protect her, save her from danger and lay down his life for her. This is usually upon meeting her for the first time.

The flashes of humor in the HBO series are rare in the book but the plotting is similarly ridiculous and contrived. It feels like the vampire lore is being made-up as the author goes along. In the first book the vampires have been out of the coffin for four years, in the second book that is changed to two years (like the series). Bill was married in his past human life and had five children which was curtailed to three in the second book with one that died in infancy. Also the name of the blood drink changes in the two books, it is Life Force in the first and Pure Blood in the second.

Sookie has almost no emotional reaction whatsoever at any of the multiple murders that take place in the book. Not even her grandmother's murder elicits much of a reaction from her (it is the same in the series to a point that I believe it is supposed to be some kind of darkly comedic ironic commentary, that these people are shallow and moronic and don't even care when people they know are murdered or something to that effect - at least I think that is what they are trying to do, I could be wrong. Perhaps it is just terrible writing.).

Sookie accepts everything without raising any questions of morality. It's fine that people have been murdered (because they were trashy women anyway) and she cleans up the kitchen where her grandmother was murdered and then after the funeral is serving people out of it like she's having a tea party. She continually walks over the spot where her grandmother had been brutally slain, to fetch a pitcher of lemonade. I mean, wouldn't that just shatter you somewhat?

She never feels a moment of grief. She's as cold and dead as Vampire Bill.

Not one single character stands out in the book. They are all words on paper and nothing more. One note characters. Some only half a note. You don't feel anything for anyone. The minor characters are so minor that you'll be hard pressed to remember their names let alone anything about them. Inexplicably Elvis also shows up as a half-witted vampire. It isn't even remotely funny which I think was the entire point of it. It just seems out of place but then so do many of the scenes since there is no real through-line (that is supposed to be Sookie but all she cares about once she loses her virginity is getting the hot(in in the vampire's case - cold)-beef injection).

Many plot points are never explored, lore is left unexplained and there is no sense of place or time. I know nothing about Louisiana and would have appreciated a description here and there. Also I have no idea when the story takes place. There are a few cultural references that seem outdated now (the book was published in 2001), yet the book is supposed to take place somewhere in the future (though even in the series it is hard to pin-point when).

In the series many minor characters (Sookie's brother Jason is just a plot device in the book but becomes the foremost fornicator in the series, Lafayette who dies in the second book is a major character in the series, Tara who is not even in the first book but makes a slight appearance in the second is also a major character) have been given new life since the series is NOT told from Sookie's point of view. I can hear how the HBO development meeting went - "Hey this is Twilight but for adults! We'll put in tons of sex, lots of erotic blood-letting, frat boy gross-outs, some orgies and have the leading actress who is a former child-star Academy Award winner (that would be Anna Paquin) get all naked and drilled like an oil well! It's a winner!"

Unfortunately for me I purchased the boxed set, so I will have to read them (if I can possibly make it through the blinding stupidity). The bottom line is this book is poorly written, sophomoric and as compelling as indigestion. You just want it to be over so you can feel like yourself again.
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70 of 83 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars LOVE the HBO Series, hated the book, December 29, 2008
By 
ICIBIU (Bergen County NJ) - See all my reviews
I cannot for the life of me understand why this book has so many positive reviews. Admittedly, I only got about half way through the book before I decided to stop wasting my time, but unless Charlaine used a ghostwriter for the second half I don't see how it would have gotten any better. The characters were very poorly developed and as far as I could tell the only reason Sookie was attracted to Bill was because she couldn't read his mind.

The characters reactions to some of the events were very unbelievable (SPOILER ALERT) for example Sookie, Jason & Grandma are all having lunch and gossiping about the goings on in town then all of a sudden Jason remembers that Maudette Pickins was murdered that morning, they talk about it for a minute then continue eating their lunch and chatting about other stuff. Now I'm no small town girl but I would imagine that if you live in a small town and someone you know is murdered that it 1)Is the first topic of conversation 2) is the ONLY topic of conversation.

It's easy to see why Alan Ball chose this book to turn into a TV series. The characters were underdeveloped so he had plenty of room to flesh them out and make them his own. Also all the little plot lines (and there are TONS of them in the book) that the author dreamed up but was too lazy to actually go in depth with were easy to embellish upon and make each into a separate episode.

All in all I think the author had some great ideas but was too unfocused or just plain lazy to actually turn them into anything. Most times when you watch a film translation of a book there is so much detail missing butin this case it was the opposite watching the HBO version first and then reading the book I felt almost as if I was reading an outline for the script of the show. The basic plot lines are there but all of the details and emotions are missing.
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Dead Until Dark  (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1)
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1) by Charlaine Harris (Paperback - July 7, 2009)
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