Friday, 30 May 2014

Happily Ever After?

Now that my e-reader is fixed (I say with the distinct hope that I'm not jinxing myself), I've officially finished the final novel in Charlaine Harris' infamous Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Ever After. This series was a nice change to what I usually read, and I did enjoy it immensely, but I can't help wishing that I got something more out of the final book. It's just my opinion and I'm aware that Harris is an exceptional author with years of experience to her name, and I look forward to her next book, but I can't ignore the "that's it?" feeling I had when I finished the novel. Spoilers ahead!

All right, I admit it– this cover is adorable.
Skipping to the point, the novel begins with the re-entrance of Arlene, Sookie's friend turned intolerant anti-supernatural advocate. When she asks to have her job back, Sookie is stunned, but not half as stunned as when she finds Arlene dead, and is framed with her murder. It becomes clear that someone is out to ruin Sookie's already complicated life, and it won't be easy finding out who, or why...

One of the things I liked about Dead Ever After is the chapters that were told from the situations of other characters. For example, there were a few cuts where we learned what the villains were up to, and a memorable scene with Amelia, Bob, Barry, and a very unwelcome visitor. It was nice to see familiar faces again, including two of my favorites, Amelia and Quinn. I felt Quinn's part was a little too short (though it could just be because I like him a lot), and I was hoping for a little more growth and repair between Amelia and Sookie. I was also surprised at the lack of Bill. Oh, he was there and played some very important roles, but considering he still seemed devoted to Sookie to an almost obsessive degree, I was hoping he would reach an arc where he finally let her go.

The choice of villains wasn't too surprising, though I was a little let down by that. I read who they were, and my thoughts were: "Oh, well, I guess that makes sense." It worked in its own way, but I was hoping for someone much more dangerous. Harris was certainly describing enemies that would make my skin crawl, though their final entrance and resolution seemed to be thrown in as an after thought.

Maybe I'm wrong to judge on this, since I'm not a best selling author with a gigantic fan base and endless respect from other authors (though a girl can dream!), but when I hear the end of a series is on its way, I expect explosions. I expect dramatic revelations and nail-biting tension. I want to refuse to put the book down and be biting my nails whenever I think a character I care about is in danger. Final books should be apocalyptic.

All of this aside, Dead Ever After is not a bad book. It was nice to see Sookie being herself, but also growing into a much stronger woman and maturing herself as far as her relationships. I guess I just wanted more from a series that began so spectacularly. I'm aware that ending a series is difficult and that you can't please everyone. It's also important to remember that in the end, the story belongs to the author to do with whatever she wants. They're the one with the story to tell, and we're the ones who want to listen. The difference is in interpretation.

So now that it's all said and done, would I still recommend the Sookie Stackhouse series? Absolutely. They're fun, well written novels and would be a nice change of pace for someone who isn't as head over heels for the supernatural as I am. One of the best aspects was the realism that Harris brought into her alternate universe. It was easy to fall into, and I can only hope that I'll be able to create a world as effective as Harris did one day. And hey, just because I didn't like the final book, doesn't mean that someone else won't! So goodbye, Sookie and company. You were a lot of fun, and you definitely opened my eyes to a new version of the supernatural world.


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