R&R 074 | Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse #5)
SPOILER WARNING – If you're watching True Blood and don't want to be spoiled for upcoming seasons, you might want to stop reading right now. Though the show doesn't stay entirely true to the books, some of it may be relevant.
Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse #5)
First published in: 2005
This edition: Ace, 2006
Cover: Illustration by Lisa Desimini, design by Judith Lagerman
The fifth installment of Charlaine Harris's novels about a cocktail waitress in Louisiana takes off with a bang or two – literally; several shootings shake up Bon Temps and its surroundings, leaving Sookie worried about various friends, in particular the ones that happen to have the ability to change into an animal. Sookie is worried sick about her friends, but angry too – because the shifter community suspects her brother Jason, a new shifter who has been turned against his will, to be the shooter. Even though she craves some normalcy in her life, Sookie is determined to find out who's really the one gunning down the local Weres and shifters (Fellowship of the Sun? Anyone but Jason)… even if it means she'll risk getting caught in the crossfire…
This book starts off really good; all of the books are addictive. So much happens in Dead as a Doornail, you don't have time to be bored with the plot enough to put the book down. The Sookie novels work that way: plenty of twists and turns and things happening to keep things interesting.
…but it was too much this time. Sookie's life was in serious peril three times in this one book. One life threatening event gets the point across just as well. This time around, Sookie needed too much saving, and what I like about Sookie is that she's supposed to be more independent than the average female lead, not a continuous Damsel in Distress.
Furthermore, Harris veers off course a bit often (the books are usually a little packed with unrelated events, but this one took the cake), focusing on minor characters that are far from interesting to the general series. Tara mixed in with a bad vampire. I don't caaaare. Claude the fairy wanting Sookie to model with him. Relevance? The Shreveport were pack leader election. Dragged out, even though this event does provide material for the future in the form of relationship tensions.
Ah yes, relationship tensions. Speaking of those, I found myself aching for change throughout this book. Whereas book 4 was spot on when it comes to Sookie & Her Supernatural Men, with book 5 I have reached the point in this series where I start to grow tired of played out dynamics between characters. You all know, I had long before become frustrated with Bill's existence, but now I feel a break is needed from all these men, even Alcide. Even Sam.
Oh, Sam, he has always been on Sookie's back burner, except when he's convenient for a hug, a kiss or a mental undressing session. This is maybe the one thing that bugs me about Sookie. The way she's having fun with men, sure, but not realizing that maybe she's hurting some of them, too. Consequentially, they're all turning into whiney, bitter idiots at this point.
Sookie needs to learn to let go (and maybe, so does Charlaine…). She doesn't have to continue to have a bond with every single one of the male characters she ever came across in the series. Example: Sookie treating Bill civilly (after everything that he's done and continues to do with his violent and jealous outbursts) does make Sookie the better person, but it's still disappointing!
No, Sookie needs someone new, some stability (heck, I need some stability here), if only for the other boys to just learn to live without her for a while and grow their balls back, since they've obviously shriveled and fallen off at this point. Maybe then I'll find them remotely attractive for the female lead again.
But not to worry – Charlaine Harris anticipates and allows her series to evolve in the nick of time. Towards the end of this book, there are serious indications that there will be changes for Sookie in this department. And relief for me as a reader of this series. (I don't want to give too much away, but I can't review a book and point out its 'negatives' without addressing fairly that it's being worked on – book 6 shows promise.)
I realize this review doesn't sound too positive – because it isn't very positive, let's face it. This book is the least interesting in the series so far. But that doesn't mean one should stop reading the series after book 4. No way!
The way I see it? Dead as a Doornail is a stepping stone leading to much more. To something new, something better perhaps. Also, the general plotline wasn't predictable or boring, and there's a cute crossover as Lily Bard & Jack Leeds from Charlaine's 'Shakespeare' series stop by for a visit. Besides, book 5 has something the other books don't: Sookie calls Bill "Bozo". Hey, if there's any way for a Sookie book to score points with me… It's referring to Bill Compton, douchebag with fangs, as Bozo. All in favor of Dead as a Doornail?
I rest my case.
R&R series © Karin E. Lips 2008, 2009 and beyond