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There has been a lot of discussion about the new Charlaine Harris book, Dead Ever After, especially since the plot ending was prematurely revealed.  I have read all the Sookie Stackhouse books,but more out of sheer bloody mindedness than enjoyment.  I had planned to collate my notes for the outstanding reviews, but I simply don’t have the spoons or the inclination to edit and re-edit when there are so many better books to review.  So instead, here are some final thoughts on the whole shenanigans.

I believe that there is an unspoken agreement between the author and reader.  The author creates amazing characters and as the reader, we get to love them as much as the author does – with that there comes a bond of trust.  We trust that the author will do right by those characters and as long as that happens, the reader will forgive a multitude of sins right until the very end.

However, I also understand that inspiration is not a bottomless well and there are some times when characters have come to their natural end… or the author just gets bored with them.  This seems to have happened with Harris, who made no secret that she wanted to kill Bill off halfway through.  This was at the same time that True Blood started; a double edged sword creating an even bigger fan base while she was falling out of love with the characters.

You need to remember, that there is a new type of reader who grew up reading the Harry Potter books.  They expect the author to do right by the characters.  Sure, some may get killed, but it’s OK because the author loves the characters and has a *plan*, we just need to trust them.  These readers not only buy the books in hard back edition at the highest price as soon as they are released, but they watch the TV series and buy everything from the t-shirts to the perfume. They also suspend their criticism.  They forgave Harris for countless mistakes, the glaring continuity errors, rambling plot lines, the repetitive Debbie Pelt nonsense, and the weird personality changes of all the characters.  They truly believed that Harris would do right by them and that Sookie and Co. would get the ending that they deserve.

She didn’t.

For the last eleventy books Harris had been flipping the bird at her fans.  She could have been worthy of their trust and created a great final book that negated all of the shitty plot lines and errors (and if she didn’t feel that she could, she should have damn well got someone to help her).  In turn, these fans would have read her other books and stayed with her for the rest of her career.  Instead she has alienated them, not only with a book that seemed to lack any kind of passion, but also by letting down the characters too.

I don’t think that the uproar in the Sookie Stackhouse community is simply because Sookie ended up with Sam, but because the ends were tied up in such a lacklustre way.  People feel cheated because they were, and now they are having an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment, realising that the previous books were just as disappointing.  Readers don’t need to be treated like they are stupid, nor do they want to be mugged off.  All they wanted was for there to be a decent ending for the characters that they have grown with and loved.  That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

In thirteen books, Sookie showed very little growth.  She is still the same person who simply wanted to be normal.  Vampires not only allowed her to feel that, but showed her how to shield herself from other people’s thoughts (a fact that was dropped in and glossed over PDQ), so she really didn’t need vampires any more.  All she wanted to do (as we were told over and over again) was to lie out in the sun, make coffee, put her hair in a pony tail while wearing her Merlotte’s t-shirt. She stopped fighting for her relationship with Eric, in fact, I am not entirely sure that she fought for it in the first place; nor did she show any understanding of vampire politics or a desire to learn about it even when she was up to her armpits in it.  Her idea of growth was that ridiculous word a day calendar.  Ending up with Sam was obvious, but the lack of run up to the relationship was disappointing.  The fate of the vampires was secondary and many of the Eric fans would have been placated if there was more of an explanation and tidier ending.  Like many times in this series, Harris simply relied upon glossing over a lacklustre plot line.  I wouldn’t have put it past her to have tried a Dallas style ‘and it was all a dream!!’ ending.

It would have been better for the series if Harris had created 6 kick ass books that didn’t resort to rambling plot lines of repetitive details about Sookie’s day to day activities while she still liked the characters.  While I might not necessarily enjoy Laurell K Hamilton’s books, I respect her for saying that she wanted to hold off writing another Merry Gentry book because she felt that the character had come to a natural end.  This is how you respect your characters and readers.

So instead of spending best part of £10 on Dead Ever After how about these books.

Jim Butcher – The Dresden Files.  Harry Dresden is a wizard, it says so in his yellow pages ad.  He helps the police with any weird shit activity which involves vampires, witches, wizards and other creepy things.

Kim Harrison – The Hollows Series.  Rachel Morgan is a kick ass bounty hunter who has just handed in her notice so has a life expectancy of -5 minutes.  She ends up moving in with her vampire friend Ivy and Jinx the pixie and becoming an independent bounty hunter.

Ilona Daniels – The Kate Daniels Series.  Kate is a mercenary investigating the murder of her friend, rubbing shoulders with vampires and weres and scary things that go bump in the night

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