May 6 2012 3:00pm

True Blood’s Jessica Improves on Charlaine Harris’s Sookieverse

Jessica in True BloodAs readers, we know the book is almost always better than the movie. We get to build the world in our minds, and due to time limitations and the like, both big and small screen adaptations often lose a lot. (Battle of Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, how I missed you in the film.)

As a fan of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels (nee Southern Vampire Mysteries), I had a hard time adjusting to True Blood originally. The books are told from Sookie’s point of view, but in the show we’re seeing what’s happening with Tara, Sam, Jason and all the other ancillary characters.

I adjusted, and did my damnedest to separate book from screen. Still, my head exploded at the thought of King Bill. He’s not nearly powerful enough to pull that off in the books. Gripes aside, though, as I started to step back and look at True Blood as its own thing, I realized the show made some great additions to Bon Temps.

Shaken, I asked myself: Can a book-to-screen adaptation make changes for the better?

Bill and Jessica in True BloodAs much as I might want to gripe about the whole way Hot Shot and the werepanthers were handled, I have to give it to True Blood’s writers. They brought Jessica to Bon Temps.

When she was added to the series as punishment for Bill’s killing Longshadow to save Sookie, I wasn’t thrilled. That’s an understatement. Season one Jessica had a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect on me.

But then that changed; Jessica is a brilliant addition to the Sookieverse. As the show has progressed, I find myself looking forward to her scenes and thinking how much book Sookie would love TV Jessica.

What works here is Jessica is a stand-in for viewers. She’s learning about all this supernatural stuff. She’s a vampire in the modern setting. We may not be able to relate to Eric or Bill—they’re supposed to much older than us—but Jessica is young. Jessica gets cultural references. Jessica remembers what it is to be human. She’s our lens to the vampire experience.

Jason and JessicaSookie gives us the impact of supernatural on a mortal. She continues to be our way to understand how ‘other’ impacts human and the stark differences. But Jessica is the way we can see how it might be to switch to the supernatural side.

In season four, Jason asks Jessica if she’d go back. She wouldn’t. She says she’s so much better than she ever was as a human. She captures our desire for something more, and really the escape genre fiction and romance readers so often crave.

I’ll be watching season five of True Blood when it premieres on June 10. And I’ll be looking forward to Jessica continuing to come into her own as a vampire. I also won’t hate it if she spends more time with Jason Stackhouse. Possibly with him not wearing a shirt.


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.) Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

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Leanne Segersin
1. LMS430
I have read all the books in the series and love the TV series as well, but I love them differently, so I try to separate them in my mind. I was reading the books as I watched the first three seasons last spring and summer so I was caught up by the time the fourth season premiered last year.
I'm also excited to see where the Jessica/Jason relationship goes!
Another vampire book/TV series where I think the show is actually better is "The Vampire Diaries." I read the first book or two in the series but didn't go any further. In my opinion, the show is MUCH better!
Lege Artis
2. LegeArtis
I was one of those who watched TrueBlood first and show interested me in CH's books. I'll be honest, I didn't like books at all; Sookie's narrative voice just irked me to no end. I don't say it's bad, it's just not my cup of tea. I like AB's vision of sookieverse better. (I was die hard TrueBlood fan, after fourth season not so much.)
Jessica is great character (her eggs dinner tantrum was very much human. And very much woman:) ). Jason and her are interesting to watch.
I love Pam also, she always has the best lines and her character should be more present in show.
3. ChelseaMueller
@LMS430 - I do the same thing. I couldn't enjoy True Blood if I didn't separate it from the books. However, I was just so impressed with the way they came up with this character that's so perfect for the book series, too. I wonder if Charlaine loves her...

Also, so with you on TVD. I couldn't do those books. I tried.

@LegeArtis - I think it's hard to transition from the show with multiple viewpoints to the books with this one. The show is so much more sexual, as well. I love the novels (especially the first seven), but get where you're coming from.

Pam is awesome in the books, too. TV Pam does Book Pam justice. Big time.
Lynda Tatad
4. LyndaTatad
Chelsea- I saw an interview with Charlaine Harris. She LOVES the character Jessica in True Blood! She wished she had thought of it, but she wouldn't add her to the books now, though, as her books are so much farther along than True Blood. Plus, TB has ventured off from the books and has created different stories and characters that are unique to TB.

I love Jessica, too! Not so much when she was first created, but after Bill went missing... So much more sympathetic! Have you seen the video blog she does on the HBO site? It started right around the time Bill had gone missing, and they are priceless!
rachel sternberg
5. rae70
Love TV Jessica and LOVE-LOVE TV and Book Pam!! Hated the TV Claudia, felt that character was jipped.. In fact, the whole TV arc with the fae was off compared to the book.
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