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Dead Until Dark/True Blood--SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! (February 13, 2009 - 4:42 p.m.)

I re-read Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris this week. I read it several years ago, but I wanted to read it again, after watching the HBO series that was based on it, called True Blood. We thoroughly enjoyed the series, but I wanted to see how closely it followed the book.

What I discovered surprised me a little. Turns out the series followed the book pretty closely. It became apparent to me, while reading the dialogue in the book, that the show was cast very well. I had no trouble at all picturing the actors in the roles while reading the book. Ana Pacquin is perfect for Sookie Stackhouse. And a lot of the dialogue in the book was used almost verbatim in the show.

Ok, before I go any further...for anyone who is not so familiar with this book series, Dead Until Dark introduces us to Sookie Stackhouse, a bar waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She has a...well, she calls it a "disability;" other people call it a "gift." She can read people's thoughts. Not a psychic, mind you. She can't predict the future or anything like that. She can just read people's thoughts. Which makes it virtually impossible to date anyone. Think about it...

In Sookie's world, vampires have become legal citizens and are protected by law. This angers some people to no end, but it also has allowed the vampires to "come out" and enter mainstream society.

So, one day, in walks the vampire, Bill. He comes to Merlotte's (the bar where Sookie works) and sits at her table. She becomes friends with him, and eventually, they become lovers. She can't read his thoughts. At all. This, to her, is a great blessing.

Shortly thereafter, though, local girls start dying. Murdered. Made to look like vampires were doing it. Unfortunately, Sookie's brother, Jason, who is basically a male version of a slut, has placed himself in a situation to be suspect for all of the murders that happen. I really liked the way he was presented in the HBO series, because he began to even doubt himself, thinking that he might actually be guilty.

That's all I'll say about the actual book here. The differences between the book and tv show are minimal. They added a character in the HBO show, named Tara. Tara, the show, is a black girl who is, basically, Sookie's best friend. She is also cousin to Lafayette, the gay black cook who works at Merlotte's. He is much more prevalent in the show than he was in the book. He didn't get mentioned a whole lot, at least not in the first book. I don't remember a whole lot about the next book, and it could be that they borrowed some from it for the show. Honestly, though, the addition of Tara in the show did not detract one bit from the story line.

Also, in the book, Rene, the adorable cajun guy who is dating Arlene (one of the other waitresses at Merlotte's), is said to be Arlene's second ex-husband (of four--this girl's got a serious problem, no?) and she is seriously involved with him again. This was not mentioned in the show.

The last girl to get murdered in both the show and the book is named Amy Burley. She is barely mentioned in the book, but in the show, they created an entire sub-plot with her and Jason, where she is this "nature/flower-child" who is hooked on "V" (vampire blood, used as a drug). They have a very strange relationship, during which they kidnap and drain a gay vampire named Eddie. This relationship is not in the book at all, neither is Eddie. (Unless, as I mentioned earlier, it is borrowed from one of the other books). In the book, Jason is said to have slept with Amy, and, as luck would have it, she is murdered right afterwards, again implicating Jason. But that's pretty much the extent of her involvement in the book.

There is a scene in the show where Sookie is befriended by a very cute collie. Bill is out of town, and she lets the collie in the house, to sort of be a watchdog for her. He jumps up on the bed and goes to sleep. The next morning, she wakes up to find Sam laying in her bed, naked. Wackiness ensues. Turns out our friend Sam is a shapeshifter! This scene works out slightly differently in the book. Basically the same, but the reactions and attitudes are different.

One more, and I'll shut up. At one point, Eric, a very old vampire who runs a bar in Shreveport called Fangtasia (it caters to "fangbangers," humans who like to be bitten by vampires), demands that Bill bring Sookie to his bar. They had met once, so he knows that she can read minds. It seems that someone has stolen money from him. A lot of money. He wants Sookie to figure out who it is. In the course of the "investigation," it is discovered that Long Shadow, the Native American bartender (vampire) is the guilty one. Eric and Pam, his partner in the business, have known Long Shadow for hundreds of years, but he has betrayed them. Before Sookie can say his name, he attacks her.

Here is a major difference between book and show. In the book, Eric stakes Long Shadow before he can kill Sookie. In the show, Bill stakes Long Shadow, resulting in punishment, because he killed a fellow vampire to protect a human. So, in the show, this is why he was out of town when Sam is revealed to be a shapeshifter. He is at his "vampire court," receiving his punishment. In the book, he is in New Orleans, campaigning for some kind of "vampire public office." Big difference. Incidentally, in the show, the results of Bill's "punishment" are somewhat humorous.

Well, I've waxed way too long about this, so I'll close now. I'll be reading the next book in the series again, shortly, but first, I'll pick a non-fiction book to read.

TTFN, y'all!

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