I looked forward to May 3, 2011, for a long, long time.
That's the day the latest in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series was slated for release. (It doesn't hurt that True Blood is also one of my favorite shows—that series returns June 26). Dead Reckoning is the eleventh book in what is now titled the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series.
Even after all this time, people simply adore Sookie. I have to admit, she is a bit of a bumpkin and has some issues with decision-making, but she’s a nice girl, and a great protagonist, with ills and woes that rival most romance heroines.
So when I found the release date, I pre-ordered the book, but I was still in the middle of another book when May 3rd rolled around.
Talk about conflicted; I’d heard from the early reviews that this book wasn’t as captivating as the others. Some people have even sworn off the entire Sookie Stackhouse series! But I wasn't conflicted when I saw it populated in my Kindle—I came close to doing a cartwheel.
This was the fix I needed to quench my bloodlust while waiting for the return of True Blood. Even though I only had two chapters to go in my other novel, I opted to forgo them to start Dead Reckoning.
In each of the books leading up to this one, Sookie finds all sorts of trouble while dating a few of the locals from just about every realm of the supernatural spectrum: From vampires to twoeys (shapeshifters—and she’s had a couple of those) and back to vampires, of course.
She is quite gullible at times and has traces of fairie blood, which I can’t for the life of me figure out why she hasn’t capitalized on that a lot more than she actually has—and she's a telepath. She is a marginal beauty, beautiful enough to attract male attention but also normal enough so readers can relate to her. I certainly appreciate that she’s not a size negative ten. Since we’ve been together for eleven books now, I’ve come to know her subtle nuances, and even that of her multiple mates. She’s been through some really rough times; from the murder of her grandmother, parents and cousin, to being strung up and tortured for the better part of an entire novel. My heart goes out to her, poor thing.
Dead Reckoning was certainly not what I expected; in this book, Harris has deviated from her good old reliable concepts and attempted to breathe life into the series and into Sookie's character. There is a deeper sense of self in Sookie, and for one of the first times, she actually seems to be evolving. I know, right, get the eff outta here! And there wasn’t nearly as much sex. Halfway into it, there wasn’t even a pinky toe revealed (bummer!).
Some of the events in Bon Temps were a bit farfetched, but here’s the upshot: Sookie’s story works for me because a number of things that needed to be revealed or to happen actually were revealed or explained during the course of the book. I found myself with several “Oh… aha…” moments throughout the course of the book.
How do I feel about it? Well, I feel pretty good (unlike Natasha Carty, who goes all...ranty in Dead Reckoning Makes Me Ranty). I didn’t finish reading it and think of banging the awful thoughts out of my head with the wall. I know that I will ride out the last days with Sookie. Did Harris's writing go a little south because she was rushed, or because she has the competition of the largest audience for a television show riding on her shoulders? I don’t rightly know. What I do know is that I liked that she gave the audience a little of what we wanted. At the end of the last book, I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed.
But at the end of Dead Reckoning, while I know there were some obvious redundancies and in a couple of instances, complete contradictions of what happened just a few lines prior, I did enjoy it. The plot was significantly more important than those grammatical errors. I can also report that I was pleased with the outcome of this novel, (even if Sookie indecisiveness was very pronounced this time around).
The long and short is, if you are already a Sookie fan, than you’ll be okay with it. I know I was. Here's the first chapter of Dead Reckoning to get you started.