Hi there! After getting into the show True Blood several year ago, but being less than pleased with some of the later seasons, I decided to dive into the books the show is based upon. I figured, I may like reading more than watching, and was curious about the differences of the books.
For this review I will be putting aside any opinion of the show. I read the book as though I had not seen the first season of the show.
Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known by some people as The Sookie Stackhouse series. This reviews contains some spoilers, I will leave names out of certain text to not give away the most major things.
My first impression while reading the first chapter: From the first page on, I thoroughly enjoyed the point of view of Sookie. I love that it jumps right into the supernatural, and her 'gift' instead of going on and on before we know about that stuff. I found Sookie from the first sentence to be amusing, and, her excitement about vampires, specifically meeting one, and meeting Bill, was entertaining in both a funny way, and a intriguing way. I was instantly pulled into the scene by the beautifully painted imagery. I could see myself in the bar, like I was watching Sookie as she moved around, fetching drinks, and food.
Midway Thoughts: Midway through the book, I had read enough to form a fairly thorough opinion on a lot of the characters, main, and side characters. I very much felt a connection with Sookie and her excitement, as well as casual attitude towards Bill; but, I also understood her frightened emotions when it came to other vampires. When we meet a certain blonde viking vampire at Fangtasia, I instantly found myself curious about him. From that very point on I wanted more interaction with Sookie and him. It was around this point when I started to be a bit bored by Bill. Bill seemed stale, and rather uninteresting at many points. He even came off as very awkward during some sexual situations. There was one or two moments where he did come off as sexy, and interesting, as well as caring, and sweet - but, for me in this first book, Bill's boring, stale, and awkward personality and social skills got a bit bland. I do however, feel I could pick up on the fact he was meant to be written this way, and it makes sense to me that he was awkward and stale - given how old he is, and his lack of romantic female companionship prior to Sookie. I was wrapped up in the murderous main plot, though it definitely was starting to feel like more of a side plot by the time I was getting past the middle. I was definitely nervous for Sookie among everyone else. (Not to mention a certain death really hit me hard, I had to stop reading for a moment.) I do believe the sexual scenes are nicely written, but left me wanting to know more. I realize the books are not romantic erotica, so, there will not be super detailed sexual scenes.
Ending Thoughts: By the end of the book, I was pretty riled up about the plot. What had started to wind into a side plot in the middle of the book, came pretty front and center by the end of the book. I was terrified for Sookie in many moments. Bill became a bit less stale around the end, and I attributed this to him letting loose as he was really worried and upset for Sookie. He tends to get more gentle when she is hurt or sad. Still, I was really hoping for more interaction between Sookie and a previously met Fangtasia character - there was a slight mention/interaction near the end, which I found amusing. I was surprised by how well the reveal of the murderer was done, it really drew me in and made me wish I could stop reading at the same time because the mental images were not very nice ones. I enjoyed very much throughout this book how Sookie got more comfortable using her "gift" and seemed happier that she had it, rather than sad and lonely about it that she was in the beginning of the book.
Overall, I really like Sookie as a character. Bill and Sookie as a couple, is iffy for me. I find Bill to be to rigid for my taste, and he also tends to seem very possessive - which I recall is pretty much just a vampire thing... I enjoyed the plot, though creepy, and very much liked the small side plots inbetween it.
I would recommend this book, and I am giving it a 9 out of 10 simply for Bill just rubbing me the wrong way sometimes.
Note: The chapters are very long, there are only 12 chapters in this book, but well over 200 pages. So, if you prefer to read one chapter at a time, put the book away, and then read the next chapter later, I would suggest giving yourself at least 30 or 40 minutes per chapter if you're like me and want the reading process to be a relaxing one.