As many of you know that read my review of Deadlocked last year, I was not overly impressed with where this series has been heading and I felt that Charlaine Harris was writing to fulfil her contract and not because she had any love left for these characters at all.
With that being said let me start the review of the final book in the Sookie series with these words ……. I have nothing personally against Charlaine Harris nor do I wish her any harm. Charlaine fans are being very vocal about the fact that they feel the harsh reviews and bad comments are “Eric” fans lashing out because they hated the ending and that is why they are bashing the book. Let me be VERY clear about this. I respect the right of EVERY author to tell the story they want to tell whether I agree with where they want to take it or not. This review IS NOT based on the fact that Eric and Sookie did not end up together (oh hush I say right in the title MAJOR SPOILERS), but is based on the fact that this book was bad on what I consider many fundamental levels.
Still with me?? Then let my review (which yes is going to contain a LOT of complaining) begin ……
In fact let’s begin at the very beginning with the question of “what on Earth is going on?”. When I started reading I actually had to close the copy and make sure that I was reading the right book. For 12 books, and however many short stories, the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse have always been told from her perspective. That was Alan Ball’s main argument for making such drastic changes in the show True Blood, because holding an audience on-screen from one person’s point of view didn’t hold for enough growth, but in the books it worked…. well for the most part anyway. We have learned to expect Sookie getting distracted by completely irrelevant details in the middle of a sentence and to me it made her more human, more relatable, more accessible. Now suddenly book 13 is starting with 2 men selling their souls to a devil ….. wait WHAT??? A devil?? (Note A devil, not THE devil, there is a distinction). We have to meet a new “supe” right when everything is supposed to be getting tied up in a nice fat bow and completed?
I think perhaps more annoying is that whilst you quickly find out who these people are, (Amelia’s father Copley and his sidekick Tyrese) in the grand scheme of things this is all just filler that although provides information later in the book is really (in my opinion) an irrelevant storyline that opens the door to many more questions than it ends up answering. My biggest problem is the introduction of “A Devil” and the new rules that we don’t discover until much farther through the story. For example, according to Charlaine Harris a person who sells his soul to a devil is now like “a void”. They cannot have their thoughts read by anyone. They do not produce an “absence” for a mind reader like a vampire does, in fact they are completely unique in that way. Magic has to be specifically crafted to include them, vampires cannot compel them and here is my biggest issue, apparently NOONE seems to know ANYTHING about this. REALLY??? When you look back over the sort of places these books cater around, the number of vampires that have lived for a millenia (and let’s face it they aren’t hanging around with the cream of society), they have NEVER come across someone who has sold their soul before? I am sorry but NO WAY!!!
This is pure and simple sloppy, lazy, writing! Whether written by her (or a ghost writer which despite claims to the opposite I am not completely convinced about for reasons I will discuss later) the fact is this is just NOT a part of the great and wonderful Sookie Stackhouse universe. Fans have invested countless hours, not to mention hundreds of hard-earned dollars, into this world only to have the rules completely changed because it is convenient. That is unacceptable! Where are her editors? I mean the continuity issues have been discussed ad nauseam so this is nothing new but really? Not one person involved with this project could take 2 seconds to stop and say this is completely RIDICULOUS! She claims to have known how this was going to end from a couple of books in … surely this was not part of her plan? No of course it wasn’t … this was a panic based attempt to try to bring some new excitement because now we don’t have the Fairies to be causing mischief anymore …… oh wait we do …..
Yes that’s right. The whole Fairy being closed off to the humans should have actually had the loophole, unless we need to bring a psycho Fairy back for a crazy plot twist. Apparently it wasn’t enough to bring back 2 other characters to confuse matters a little bit we have to bring back Claude too. Turns out he is behind the mischief (insert mayhem and murder) that Steven Newlin and Johan Glassport are getting up to. Yes Charlaine Harris manages to bring back, or at least mention pretty much every character introduced in this book I am assuming as her way of wrapping everything up. Even better we discover at the end that Niall, in his supposed wisdom, is the one that made it possible obviously not able to think that maybe, JUST MAYBE, an insane vindictive Fairy once again trapped outside of his home may decide that torturing and killing the person he believes responsible for his fate would be the go to plan. Oh and I know let me leave a note growing out of a rose-bush to explain that “oops that might not have been the best idea” AFTER everything is all said and done.
So with several plots unfolding, the reader’s perspective getting switched around (sometimes chronologically and sometimes not) I suppose that is one way of making you pay attention. Perhaps that was the real plan. If we throw in enough “HUH” moments maybe people won’t notice that this doesn’t hold together at all. Which brings me to the whole “Ghost Writer” question mark that I hold.
I have, over the years, read pretty much everything that Charlaine Harris has penned and some parts of this book just felt really “off”. Even within the book you have Sookie blatantly dropping the “F” word, something I don’t remember reading in ANY previous installments, and just when I think OK well she is going through rather a lot, I guess a little swearing may be in her character’s writing, we get a scene where instead of actually swearing so that readers can see what she is saying, instead we get, that she thought a very bad word, and then said that word out loud a number of times, to which Sam commented that he had never heard her curse like that before. THAT to me is what I expect in these books. The inconsistent manner in which she was writing this times makes me ask was it all her? Obviously she is over her love for these characters and just wants this whole saga to be done. I can understand that but we, the fans, did not sign a contract to write them, and as I am sure she has enjoyed the fee a little effort would be appreciated.
While I am on the subject of not caring let me add this. In my review of Deadlocked I voiced my annoyance over the release of the short story in Home Improvement (Undead Edition) about Tara and how the timeline was skewed because it was about remodelling her house AFTER she had the babies then when Deadlocked came out she was still pregnant. Well now in Dead Ever After she is setting up the events that WILL take place in the short story AFTER this is all done. Just one problem there Charlaine ….. SAM AND SOOKIE ARE NOW TOGETHER AND THEY AREN’T IN YOUR STORY! The chronology SUCKS! Has NOONE else noticed this? Where are the editors? The Proofreaders? I can see not wanting to let on when this was released that Sam and Sookie would be together … well here is a plan .. you claim to have known what was going to happen … RELEASE THIS AFTER so THEY COULD BE A COUPLE IN IT!!! Still like this makes me so angry!!!
As does choosing stupid names. As an author one of the things you have pretty much complete control over is the name of your character …… so WHY would you call them AN? Do you have any idea as a read how infuriating it is to read a sentence such as “An and I worked hard.” … I have to read it twice because I am thinking HUH … that doesn’t make sense .. then I remember it’s the name of the other barmaid *sigh*.
Back to the story and really it is just a matter of what happens to everyone now. As I mentioned pretty much every character mentioned that hadn’t already been killed off we have some sort of resolution for. The vampires are almost completely absent from the books and what little is mentioned other than Pam is rather annoying and so to finish up my rant based review let me tell you how it goes …….
Eric, as you had probably already gathered, does not end up with Sookie. He ends up agreeing to spend 200 years in Oklahoma as consort to Freyja with a couple of conditions of his own. He leaves his child Karin (possibly one of the most boring vampires to cross the pages of the books) to guard Sookie for a year, no vampire is ever to harm Sookie in any way blah blah blah and Sookie is never to go to Oklahoma. He confesses that he always wanted to turn Sookie and he gets in a last little mischief trying to make it hard for Sam and Sookie which honestly was probably the most Eric type thing he has done in a few books. I was glad to see a spark of the old Eric and hope that Charlaine leaves him alone because she should have stopped writing about him books ago because what she has written has not been about the Eric we, the book fans loved. Am I irritated that they didn’t get their happy ever after? Honestly I am somewhat on the fence about it. Perhaps it is just my general lack of interest in the series in general that has made it this way but hey at least she didn’t end up with Bill!
Bill, who other than a brief kiss (Praise Cain she didn’t have them hook up again) and a couple of other visits was pretty much as absent as the other vamps, we are left with the impression may have some fun with Eric’s child Karin who is left to guard Sookie for a year in the woods. I can honestly say I don’t care. Charlaine Harris should have stuck to her guns and killed him off like she planned instead of following the money trail.
Pam, again, has little mention in this book but what she does is pretty Pamish. She heals Sookie at one point and in the end she gets to be Sheriff and run Fangtasia. She is smart, loyal, and lets us know that she wouldn’t mind meeting up with Sookie occasionally because as she so eloquently says she would probably miss her if she wasn’t around.
Amelia and Bob are back together and help out a bit (although honestly Amelia helped cause some of the problems in the first place) and although Bob gets injured when Tyrese goes insane, he lives (unlike Tyrese), and they go off into the sunset.
Barry the Bellboy is back and all grown up and has a few little adventures (badly written) which apparently allow him to go and talk to anyone without proper reasons or fake credentials? Less said about that the better. He ends up recuperating with Sam’s mother. Yes you read that right but it is too dull for me to care enough to go into details.
Jason grows up even more in this book and as well as being there for his sister he ends up marrying Michele so that all works out for the best.
Tara has her babies and is a lot less annoying in this book and we end with plans for the events that take place in the short story in Home Improvement. Oh don’t get me started on that again.
We get to see Arlene murdered (her own fault), Claude (and all the other bad guys killed), Cops possessed, Andy being an almost good guy, Alcide happy with a new wolf, Quinn making an effort with his Tiger baby mamma, Terry happy and married, can you tell that all of this is just boring and stupid to me at this point?
OK on to the slightly more interesting stuff. Sam! Sam is not coping very well at the beginning of the book at his literal return from the dead. He goes from there to acting very weird around Sookie and we aren’t quite sure why. To be honest he treats her like dirt and as I knew from the spoilers that they end up together (what can I say I will always be a spoiler whore) I wondered for a while how Charlaine would write around this. Turns out she will just blame Eric and then Sam and Sookie can get it on for the only brief sexy scene in the book …. and brief it was …. but still more action than the last book …. even if it was shifter sex.
Perhaps the only redeeming characters in the book for me were Diantha and Mr Cataliades. I love their way of dealing with things and their general interactions with the human world. We learn that Cataliades is in fact related to Barry the Bellboy, a fact that Barry never discovers and Cataliades wants kept secret but that is OK. They provide entertainment where seriously much is lacking.
And I think my fans that really I have said all I care too. I am sure that people will disagree with what I have chosen to include and leave out, I am sure that many will disagree, but that is OK. These are my opinions and I stand behind them!
Another reviewer on Goodreads stated that we should be thanking Charlaine for giving us a new word. In future the desecration of a much loves series can be described as having been “Harrised” and throughout the literary world people will know what they are referring to. I like that. It works!!!