My review: After Dead by Charlaine Harris (SPOILERS INCLUDED)

ImageFirst things first: Happy 2014 to everyone!

I decided that I would end 2013 much like I brought it in: with a stack of books that I am long overdue to read. The first on my list was Charlaine Harris’ After Dead, which documents the lives of the residents in Bon Temps after the events in Dead Ever After – the final book in the Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) series. As a fan of the series – and the TV show it spawned, True Blood – I was looking forward to finding out about the happily-ever-afters I had hoped to find, especially after the general feeling of disappointment I had after reading Dead Ever After and the most recent season of True Blood. The anticipation I felt quickly turned to disappointment as I read through the first few pages of the book and upon finishing, led me to this one conclusion:

This book was a complete waste of trees and for me, cemented the fact that the Sookieverse is indeed dead – and good riddance to it.

This book was to have served as a continuance into Bon Temps, telling us – the loyal readers – what happened in the lives of our favorite characters after the events in Dead Ever After. I got through the first fourteen characters without remembering who most of them are, and even now couldn’t tell you from which books they appeared. Characters #15 and #16, Andy and Halleigh Bellefleur, were the first in a line of characters who I actually cared for, and their stories post-Dead Ever After are for the most part sad and depressing. Most of the major characters survived all of the craziness throughout the 13-book series, just to find themselves dying of “ordinary” circumstances (car accidents, heart problems, drugs, etc.). The ones who did live had sad, pathetic lives – except for the handful that Ms. Harris gave pleasant lives to, the main ones we wanted to know about anyway. The important contents of this book could have easily been scripted into an epilogue included at the end of Dead Ever After.

Some examples include (CLICK AND DRAG YOUR MOUSE TO SEE SPOILERS):

  • Andy and Halleigh Bellefleur’s daughter was born with a heart defect, two months after the events in Dead Ever After. She lived until her teens, when she died in her senior year of high school due to complications. She was buried in her cheerleader uniform.
  • Terry Bellefleur, along with his wife, dies in a car accident 8 years after Dead Ever After.
  • Jane Bodehouse died 5 years later, after hitting her head on the bathroom sink when she passed out on the toilet. (Not surprising, but did she really have to die such an undignified death?)
  • Bubba gets exiled to Canada after causing a riot at his gravesite.
  • Tara and JB break up
  • Octavia Fant and Louis Chambers die after a tree branch crashes into their bedroom during a storm.
  • Amelia and Bob get married, have a son and get divorced.

Well, you can see how this is going. The characters who have relatively happy lives are ones who made brief appearances throughout the series. Of course Bill, Sookie, and Eric have relatively happy lives, but I won’t spoil those here.

Overall, this book was a disappointment for me, and makes me certain that it was definitely time to end the tales in Bon Temps. (Although Ms. Harris suggests in two characters’ bios that we will probably see them again). Certainly NOT worth the $18.00 cover price. Pull out your library card for this one, or borrow it from a friend who had the misfortune of paying for it. RIP, Sookieverse.

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Falling out of love with True Blood

True Blood Season 6 promodFalling in love is easy. Falling OUT of love? Not so much.

Nobody ever wants to admit when they’ve fallen out of love with something. We make excuses as to why something no longer “works”; we try to remember and re-capture those initial feelings of anticipation, excitement and joy. We try to drag out our feelings when the truth is, the longer we deny it, the longer we delay the inevitable. Unfortunately, this is how I’ve come to feel about what was once one of my favorite shows, True Blood.

Like most relationships, my love for True Blood has had it’s ups and downs. As a fan of the book series from which the show was adapted, I had high hopes for the show and the characters and for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed what Alan Ball and his team of writers did with some of the characters. Even when the show began to deviate heavily from the canon, the presentation of the show and characters continued to compel me to watch. However, the past couple of seasons has shown me that the shelf life on this show is coming near it’s expiration date, and truth be told, I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it go.

After falling out of regular viewing at the conclusion of episode 4, I’ve spent the past two days catching up on the rest of Season 6. Early on, I had my misgivings on whether or not the show would be able to continue: this was my response when I shared this article on Facebook back on June 24, “I haven’t seen last night’s episode yet, but I will say that the season premiere didn’t impress me at all. As much as I have loved the show, they need to do something quick to fix what it’s become.” On September 3, it was confirmed by several media outlets that while True Blood has been renewed for a seventh season, that season will also be its last. I don’t pretend to be an expert on what makes a show work, but I will offer my own opinion of why the show no longer worked for me. (SPOILER ALERT!)

Take time to smell the roses. I understand that relationships on TV are unrealistic, but can we at least try? If we believe the time frame for the season (as implied by Andy Bellefleur’s “teenaged” faerie daughter, Adilyn), then the whole of season 6 took place in the time span of two weeks. TWO WEEKS. So, in that short period of time we’ve seen:

  • Sookie going from “I-don’t-want-anybody-I-need-to-be-alone”, to being hunted down by Warlow (who tells her that she is the soul mate he’s waited almost 6,000 years for), to falling in love with Warlow (who turns out to be the vampire/faerie hybrid who murdered her parents – who were in fact trying to kill her in order to prevent her from becoming Warlow’s “destined” vampire/faeire bride), then falls out of love with him when he tries to force her to become said bride, then stands by and watches while he is killed by her brother Jason, and her faerie great-grandfather Niall. All of this while trying to convince herself (and everyone else) that she’s no longer in love with Bill. And THEN ends up in a relationship with Alcide. Poor old Eric, who Sookie was so much in love with a few seasons ago, didn’t even merit a mention in her romantic afterthoughts. So much for true love!
  • Sam didn’t even let Luna’s body get cold before he was jumping in bed with Nicole, knocking her up and declaring his love for her!
  • Jessica and Jason – while still harboring unresolved feelings for each other – both jump into their first ever relationships with vampires. Jason took a detour first with the returning-and-annoying-as-ever Sarah Newlin, before becoming vampire food/oral sex slave vagitarian (“I’ve gone down on you for 178 nights in a row. Sometimes twice, sometimes three times!) without receiving any sexual gratification of his own. (How the hell did Jason end up with such a selfish vampire anyways?) And for the record, for 178 days straight…no further comment needed!

Character assassination. While I’ve gotten the grasp on separating characters when it comes to book-to-movie/TV adaptations, there are some things that really irk me about completely changing a character’s traits, while expecting us to still give a damn about the character.

  • Alcide Herveaux – initially one of my favorite characters because of his loyal and goodhearted nature (and the fact that he looks completely godlike without a shirt on doesn’t hurt), I actually found myself hating his character for most of the season. Becoming pack master did not do this werewolf any favors in the personality department, and I’m glad that it seems like he’s back to his old self.
  • Bill Compton – Bilith. Enough said.
  • Terry Bellefleur – I understand that the character of Terry has always suffered from PTSD, and the events from last season are sure to make any man in his position insane, but for him to arrange for an old friend to kill him while leaving a wife and three children behind? No, no, a thousand times, no.

Enough with the Sookie stalking! I understand Sookie is the main character and all, but her storylines get more ridiculous every year. I was not a fan of the whole Warlow storyline and really hope that the writers have something better in mind to send the character off with when the show ends next season.

Some of the things I actually did love about the show this year:

0609Lafayette1Lafayette. Lafayette has always been one of my favorite characters, in both the book and TV series. Although his character was killed at the beginning of book 2, the show chose to keep him on throughout the course of the show, and it has been one of the best decisions they’ve made. Lafayette remains true to himself, and his “take me as I am” attitude has not changed during the course of six seasons; no matter what knocks he takes, he always comes back stronger than ever. And, when you can pair a debonair suit ensemble with matching eyeshadow and some fierce extended lashes, and absolutely KILL it, well no further words are needed on how awesome you are.

Andy and Adilyn Bellefleur. The circumstances regarding Andy’s children amused me at first, because Andy is not a character you would normally associate with fatherhood. But the addition of his faerie children (and subsequent murder of three of them), changed Andy’s character for the better. It made him more tolerant of the differences he encounters in the residents of Bon Temps, and makes him more likeable altogether.

RIP Terry Bellefleur. While I didn’t like the circumstances regarding Terry’s death, his funeral was probably one of the best scenes during the whole season.

Eric the Vulnerable. Eric’s scenes with the dying Nora showed a softer, vulnerable side to the usually cold-hearted and selfish Viking, and his scream at her final death broke my heart.

I’ll be talking more about season 6 of True Blood in an upcoming episode of the Sci-Fi Party Line podcast, so be on the lookout. All in all, I really think that True Blood has run its course, and the show runners were smart in making the decision to voluntarily end the show before HBO decided to cancel it. I hope that next season will bring the show full circle and return it to being the show I first fell in love with. Nobody wants to remember a great love in a bad light.