Onward! And I'm giving up on the first and second thoughts because they're starting to blend. My third thoughts are no longer demanding booze because it's Easter Sunday and that means chocolate.
The plot: Turns out that Sookie's junkie (hmmm...) cousin Hadley was, in fact, the bed-buddy of the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. Oh, and a vampire. But now she's actually dead, and Sookie has inherited everything. In this case, 'everything' means 'a massive vampire politics mess involving the aforementioned queen and her husband, the king of another region'. Also, Bill is an arsehole of epic proportions. Has the True Blood series gotten to The Betrayal yet? Or rather, the revelation of The Betrayal? Yes, the Capitals are necessary.
Oh, and Sookie's part fairy. Because, of course she is. At least it explains the telepathy.
All Together Dead
The plot: Sookie's hooked up with Quinn, and, despite the misgivings of, oh gee, EVERYBODY, she's decided to help out the Queen of Louisiana at some Vampire convention. See, Sophie-Anne's in a lot of trouble, what with murdering her husband and all, and she needs Sookie to use her telepathic powers to figure out how fucked she is. Then the Fellowship of the Sun blows the place up. I don't think that could be considered a spoiler, since it's mentioned in the blurb of the next book, which is:
From Dead to Worse
The vampires of Louisiana are somewhat screwed. Aside from the explosions and the hurricane, they're dealing with an extremely hostile takeover. Although by vampire standards, the slaughter of the Queen and most of her sheriffs is probably just be 'standard operating procedures'. Quinn, who Sookie hasn't seen since the hospital in Rhodes, is involved. At the same time, the Were's are having a crisis of their own. Lots of killing, and threatening, and backstabbing, and then there's a big brawl and Sam turns into a lion, bless his magical naked arse.
Oh, and Sookie is actually the great-granddaughter of the prince of the fairies, and gets to have a fascinating reunion with her great-grandfather, Niall, who's somewhat endearing in his attempts to connect with his very-human and confused descendant.
Plotwise, I found Definitely Dead one of the more interesting books. No offense to Harris, but I think she works best with a simple storyline. It's difficult to explain, especially without sounding like I'm bitching the woman out. I admire her work, I really do, but I think she works best within a narrow field.
Put it this way - she's got a pretty good handle on Sookie's life within a small town. She carries off the werepanthers in Hotshot, even the role of vampires in a very specific chunk of society (tourists and fangbangers). It's when she gets to the interaction of Supernaturals with society that she falters. Sometimes, she's wonderfully astute, but she also tends to miss things that seem blatantly obvious. She created the Fellowship of the Sun, but glossed over what would be a much greater threat - politicans, talkback radio hosts and newspaper columnists.
For that matter, she's divided the characters into two distinct groups, those who like vampires, and those who do not. The people who don't are universally judgmental or misguided or flat out evil. But we're not talking about, I don't know, a different skin colour or sexuality. Simply to survive, vampires had to become serial killers. Finding that a concern is not stupid, cruel or evil. Frankly, it's a survival trait. I find it absolutely mind-boggling that nobody has ever said, 'Hang on, they're hundreds, even thousands of years old, and this synthetic blood has only been around for a tiny fraction of that. What did they drink before then? Oh. Hey, that might be a problem.'
Part of the problem is that Sookie is an unreliable narrator. Like I said in the previous post, she's a junkie, so anybody who doesn't share her addiction is automatically suspect to her. What I couldn't mention until now is, of course, The Betrayal. Yes, it explains a lot about her relationship with Bill, from his point of view. But it also demonstrates just how deep Sookie's problem goes. By now, she knows how little she knows when it comes to the supernaturals. There's a couple of pages of her thinking about it while she's traveling to New Orleans, when she acknowledges how naiive she's been.
But even when it's personal, when the life the vampires have played with is her own, she keeps coming back for more. She's either incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid, and I honestly can't tell which one Harris is trying to tell us it is. I know Sookie is not an idiot, but to not even consider staying the fuck away from them? When she claims, over and over again, that she just wants a nice, quiet life? It bugs me that somebody who appears to be so concerned about her own survival has such an enormous blind spot.
The perfect example of this is in All Together Dead, when she refuses to tell the human search and rescue people her name. I don't object to her reasons, but they don't add up in the context of her role amongst the vampires. So it's a problem if the humans might want you to save their lives, but perfectly okay to be hired by the Vampire Queen? Uh, right. How does that work, exactly? Because you're not going to be any less forced by the Vampire who's been playing you from the get go, sweetheart. That's been made abundantly clear, what with the whole 'forcing you to share blood with one of my vampires' thing.
All Together Dead pisses me off for another reason. It's a small thing, but fuck me if it doesn't make me see red.
That fucking weather witch. We're supposed to believe that some piece of walking shit saw how bad Hurricane Katrina was going to be and didn't say a word for the sake of some vampires?? And that is what worries Sookie? So she doesn't give a ripe shit about the deaths that could have been avoided, no, the weather witch's silence is a problem because pretty little Sophie-Anne lost her powerbase right when she needed it most. And isn't Sookie smug when she finds the guy? Apparently, that's the way you should feel when you realise somebody chose vampire politics over the lives of hundreds of people. No, wait, of course, you should feel pleased that you've been useful to your vampire overlords. Remember those 'willing donors' at the buffet? You shouldn't have shuddered, Sookie, you should have just grabbed a tag and joined them.
At this point, I wondered if Harris was actually a genius, brilliantly documenting the slow descent of an intelligent and independent woman into a hopeless fang-banger. I wondered if it was a vicious satire of Vampire/chick lit conventions. Or if I should just stop fucking analyzing everything and just go back to enjoying the hot sex.
So, to sum up, if you can treat the series as an analogy of a person's descent into substance abuse, or, alternatively, just ignore those niggling concerns and focus on the hard-bodied warriors with the centuries of experience, these are a great set of books.
Actually, regardless of the niggling concerns, just buy and read these books in support of vampires that don't sparkle.