Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charlaine Harris: Dead Reckoning


I mentioned last week that the next Sookie Stackhouse novel has been released.  Even though I know that Charlaine Harris is a truly troubled woman, after reading the Aurora Teagarden and Shakespeare series, I still could not wait to read this book.  Of course I have to share my thoughts with you because Harris inspires snark like no other writer I have ever read.
Spoilers ahead, you have been warned.


All right, I will start off my saying that Harris is clearly bored with this series.  The characters that we have spent so many books getting to know do not act like themselves.  Eric is violent without reason and constantly needs Sookie to place her hand on him to calm him down.  He even goes as far as to become violent with Pam, when a simple command would render her helpless to disobey his orders.  What is really weird about this, is that the relationship between Pam and Eric has always seemed like a friendship based on mutual respect, even though he is her creator. Then there is Bill, who believes that Sookie would win the Miss America best tits competition.  Yes, the vampire that Harris has spent so long constructing as a true southern gentleman actually said that. Sam, who has suddenly become Sookie's best friend, now that he is dating another woman (note: the woman is a problem because of course she does not match Sookie's version of femininity - typical Harris).   

What is most unfortunate is that Harris went through all the trouble to change her characters, but Sookie remained the same annoying person that she always has been.  What is her obsession with being the consummate hostess?  Pam and Eric have a physical altercation in her kitchen, but Sookie is concerned that she cannot offer her hairdresser another drink. Ummm what?  After having unrealistic sex with Eric she has to sit on a bag of peas because her "yahoo palace" is injured. I cannot decide if I am more weirded out because she referred to her vagina as a "yahoo palace", or that apparently it was so normalized that she would need ice, that Eric went and got it for her without asking.  What is it with this genre and men with inhuman size penises? 

Mr. Cataliades apparently is responsible for her ability to read minds.  It seems that he has been watching her, her entire life though there was no indication about this before.  He performed a ceremony with her grandmother and Fintan, which resulted in anyone being born with the essential spark having the ability to read minds, this btw is brand new terminology in the series.  Even though Mr. Cataliades has supposedly been guarding her for her entire life, given her the best gift that he can, and bothered to stop and visit her, though he was clearly running for her life, once again Sookie was completely ungrateful.

I know that fiction is only make believe, but Harris apparently decided that sticking to her own cannon was completely unnecessary.  How is it that all of a sudden Niall and Eric had Terry Bellefluer watching over Sookie?  What about the fact that Claude and Dermott cannot return home, but yet there is an entryway in the woods by Sookie's place big enough to throw a body threw?  Really?  Btw apparently this opening was only supposedly large enough to send letters, but when necessary suddenly became large enough to allow a body, but not a gun, 'cause that would be littering. It also seems that for the purposes of adding a bit of bulk to the book, Sookie had to tell Bill twice that Eric had to marry the queen of Oklahoma.

Finally, in a last bit of Harris fuckery, she had a vampire fighting a battle in a sari.  Yep, a sari.  I mean, what if the reader didn't know that the character is Indian?  Yep, the best way to make sure that there are markers of culture is to have them dress in traditional clothing.  To make sure that the sari didn't seem out of place she decided to have the character use it as a weapon - yeah that makes it soooo much more believable. Just to make sure that Asians were fully represented Harris threw in the character of Akiro who was openly armed.  "He was carrying a sword, like one other Asian vampire I'd met," Harris wrote.  Don't tell me that when she sat down to write that fuckery she didn't know it was full fail.  Then in what quite possibly was the biggest race fail in the book was the description of what happens when a Black person becomes a vampire.
Dark-skinned vampires undergo an interesting change in a few decades after they're turned.  If they were a very dark shade in life, they become a light brown, sort of a milk chocolate.  Those who were lighter skinned become a sort of creamy ecru.
Why was that necessary?  Oh I know, because Harris has no idea how to write characters of colour.  Look, I am more than willing to give her a pass and read her books with all White characters because it would be so much better than her attempting to be inclusive. 

The other inclusion cookie she should stop seeking comes from the LGBT community.  Having a same sex relationship where one partner dies is NOT a positive.  This trope where gay people have to constantly walk around sad and tortured has to stop.  Harris of course trumped this by making Pam's love interest a terminal cancer patient, so that the reader would know from the beginning that the relationship would not last.

All in all, the book was full of the usual Harris problems, but it was difficult justifying continuing to read it because there was no real plot.  Sookie defending herself against Debbie Pelt just felt like a ridiculous addition, and her sitting in judgement over Eric when she herself has killed people just read as judgement for the sake of judging.  Hey Sookie, what did you do for fun on the weekend?  "I judged people cause judging is fun."  Releasing a book to keep pulling in dollars, when you have no longer have  in the characters, just ruins the whole story.  I started this series and so I will finish it, but I refuse to pretend it isn't painful.