My name’s Bec Brown and I don’t like vampires.
Or shapeshifters, aliens, unicorns, ghosts, witches or other supernatural beings.
I was sucked into watching True Blood purely by the extremely hot scenes between Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) and Stephen Moyer (Vampire Bill).
Then Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse) kept taking his shirt off.
Once Alexander Skarsgard (Vampire Eric) came onto the scene, True Blood became mandatory viewing.
So it came as some surprise that I not only liked reading Charlaine Harris’ first ever Sookie Stackhouse book ‘Dead Until Dark’, I was totally hooked and quickly devoured the other nine novels in her ‘Southern Vampire’ series.
I’ve just never been that into the supernatural. Apart from ALF (I was very young and it was the 80′s) and a very brief Star Trek fascination back in the late 90′s that had more to do with my Trek-nerd boyfriend at the time.
I think it’s because I find reality startling enough.
The world and it’s inhabitants that I currently interact with are so often freakishly interesting, complex and dramatic enough for me.
The personality and cultural differences of human beings spin me out – do I really need a different level of “being” in the mix?
That doesn’t totally make sense as I have an over-active imagination. As a little kid, I always believed that fairies lived in my garden. And even today, when I’m out in the park, I just may happen to look into the trees for their best hiding spots (when I’m not looking for places to hide body parts of the villains that I’ve had to kill, but that’s just come from reading too many Dexter novels).
So what makes me like Sookie’s world so much?
Charlaine Harris doesn’t throw all of these characters at you in one go either, which certainly helps. She slowly introduces you to a different “race” so you’re accustomed to them all existing in the same world and it’s soon really very normal. There are 10 Sookie Stackhouse books so far and after we’re introduced to vampires, we’re on to shapeshifters and werewolves. After werewolves you really discover witches, beyond witches, well… that’s for you to read about.
What’s brilliant isn’t the cool superpowers or thrilling, what-happens-next plot, it’s how each of these cultures need to adapt and how mindsets and behaviours need to change in order for them all to coexist – especially with humans.
Discrimination is rife – vampires and all of the other “supes” are, as many of the human characters from America’s deep South would say, the new “gays and coloureds”. Family relationships are tested as traditional roles change forever. Everyone has their own political agenda. And no one, human or supernatural, can escape the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
The 11th Sookie Stackhouse novel ‘Dead Reckoning’ hits Australia in May and for genuine True Blood fans, ‘The Sookie Stackhouse companion will be out in September 2011. The companion gives readers an insider’s look, as told by Sookie into her family, friends, enemies, adventures and, of course, the lovers who set her world (and ours) on fire. It also includes a tour of all the important homes, shops bars and diners that make up Sookie’s home town, including some excellent Southern-style recipes.
So while the Sookie Stackhouse novels are full of social and political commentary, it’s never too heavy because the writing is centred around some very funny relationships and it always maintains a sense of play and humour.
Sookie Stackhouse is an endearing character. And as much as I think Anna Paquin plays a fantastic Sookie in the steamy hit ‘True Blood’, the Sookie on paper, courtesy of Charlaine Harris, is even better. At heart, Sookie is an honest, straight-up, simple, small-town girl who’s just trying to make sense of the crazy world around her.
And we love her for it because, really, that’s what we’re all trying to do.
**PS – Season 4 of the TV series True Blood is soon to be out and is loosely based on the fourth novel ‘Dead To The World’. I say loosely because there’s a few characters in the TV series that are totally different to those in the novels. In my opinion, the books are actually better. The storylines are much more complex and funny and the unique blend of some particularly weird and wonderful characters makes for excellent entertainment.**