I want to start off this post by saying that I haven’t read the book and I’m choosing not to. For those that are intending to read it, I’m going to put the rest of this post under a cut so I don’t spoil any of it for you if you’ve been avoiding spoilers like the plague. Although, by the time you finish the book you may wish for the plague instead…
Let me just go back in time a little bit to just before the start of the second season of True Blood. I remember hearing all of these things about this show on HBO but I never really paid cable shows that much attention. I wasn’t really into the whole vampire thing (outside of Buffy) and it just never really seemed to grab my interest. But I had heard about the show being nominated for (and winning) all of these awards so I figured I’d give it a shot since the show was On Demand. I wasn’t even through the first episode of True Blood and I was hooked. I watched the entire first season in less than twenty-four hours I was so hooked.
I wanted more.
I wanted to devour everything I could about the show and its characters and the very next day I was at the library checking out every Southern Vampire Mysteries novel I could. I remember having to wait for Dead to the World and having a fucking hissy fit. I was checking my email and text messages constantly, hoping that the library was alerting me that my book had come back into circulation so I could go pick it up.
Before season two had started I had read everything I possibly could. I was positively hooked. I was in love with the characters and I was so excited about being able to immerse myself in the make believe world of Bon Temps. It was fascinating to see these characters that I had spent so much time reading about coming to life. To see them move, speak, fall in love, run for their lives… all of those things was just amazing. Falling in love with a fandom is a big deal, which you know if you’ve done it. Something just takes a hold of you and regardless of how silly it might seem to others, you just can’t get enough.
I was a total addict.
I bring all of this up because quite honestly, it wouldn’t be possible without the books. True Blood and SVM are quite obviously two very different entities, which took me a long time to digest, but my focus here is on SVM. Those books are the basis for a show that gripped millions of people and got them to read books that may never have been read otherwise. True Blood helped to make Charlaine Harris a notable author in a genre full of sometimes very campy writers. There was something unique to her work because unlike most vampire writers, Charlaine made her vampires public. She took them out of the coffin and made them more human, in a way.
She presented us with complex characters that clearly had their pros and cons. In the beginning, Sookie was this small town girl struggling to find love and acceptance after being saddled with one tragedy after another and a remarkable ability she saw as nothing but a disability. Even in the face of hardship, death threats and intimidation from supernatural beings that could kill her before she took her next breath, Sookie maintained her poise, strength, creativity and kindness to survive one sticky situation after another. Over the course of the series she is forced to go through things that would change anyone’s character for the worse, and it seems that is what happens.
Because Sookie is a human being she isn’t without her flaws and faults. She can be selfish, cold, self-righteous and argumentative. There are times when she appears ungrateful for the kindness bestowed upon her. Instead of saying thank you, or seeing the bigger picture, Sookie poo-poos away the things people say or do because it doesn’t fit her moral code. She sees things with the eyes of an idealist instead of the way they really are.
Yet, even when she’s excruciatingly frustrating, I couldn’t help but root for Sookie because I wanted to see her triumph and outsmart some of these arrogantly, supposedly superior, other beings. Whether it was Rene, Steve Newlin, Lorena, Marnie Stonebrook, Mickey, Charles Twining, Sweetie Des Arts, the fairies, Felipe de Castro, Victor Madden, Sophie-Anne, Andre, Alcide, Quinn, Bill or even Eric himself… I wanted to see Sookie come out on top. Of course it’s not logical for her to beat all of the odds and because of that Sookie did more of her share of suffering along the way. Whether it was being clawed be the Maenad, being staked in Jackson, being shot outside the library, having her house set on fire by Charles Twining or being tortured by the fairies, Sookie has suffered.
That’s not even taking into consideration the molestation and early death of her parents.
I wanted to see Sookie overcome these things, learn from them and see them make her a stronger person. There’s a group of bloggers I follow on tumblr that talk about how the abuse and the general treatment Sookie has received has made her behavior understandable. I don’t know that I completely disagree with that. Sookie has the choice to rise above the things that she goes through, but rather than actually dealing with her problems or the trauma she’s faced, she always puts it off for another day that never comes. In doing this, it makes her a meaner, more bitter person. As the books go on, she becomes less and less likeable a character for me.
There’s a part of me that wonders if the regression of Sookie’s character is because of her inability to cope with the trauma she’s suffered, or if it’s because the author began to despise the characters she created. Based on the things I’ve read about the way Dead Ever After was told, I’m guessing it was more of the latter.
The last complete book I read was Dead In the Family and it lacked the same energy and caring the other books had. Dead Reckoning was a fucking nightmare that I didn’t even finish. I’ve barely set eyes on a copy of Dead Locked and I have no desire whatsoever to read Dead Ever After.
I’m not sure what changed for Charlaine. Was it pressure from her publishers to keep characters around that she intended to kill off? Did she let True Blood interfere with the story she intended to tell? She always said she knew the way the story was going to end. The problem is that the heart of the story became a convoluted mess. There were so many unnecessary subplots and things that took away from the most interesting parts of the series. If the ending that she always intended was for Sookie to be with Sam she put absolutely no build up into it. From what I’ve read in spoilers and reactions from readers that have actually read Dead Ever After, Sam sounds like she’s settling and not like he’s the great love of her life.
Maybe Sookie’s okay with making her life with someone she has lukewarm feelings for because her sense of entitlement where Eric is concerned got the better of her. Maybe she doesn’t need to feel passionately about her mate. Maybe Sookie wants something that’s safe after all of the risks she’s taken.
Whatever her reasons for choosing Sam, of call people, it doesn’t make sense.
Truthfully, I didn’t expect her to be with Sam at the end. I always assumed that vampire politics would end up getting between them and cause them to go their separate ways. I figured one of two things would have to happen in order for them to stay together.
- Eric would have to turn Sookie against her will, which I don’t think he would ever do because he loves and respects her too much to disregard her feelings so severely.
- Eric would have to become the king of at least Louisiana so that he could keep her safe.
So no, it’s not surprising that they’re not together at the end of the series.
What is shocking to me is the way Charlaine went about breaking them up. It seems to me that this last book puts every character at their absolute worst. Eric whines about Sookie not using the Cluviel Dor to get him out of the marriage to Freyda (even though it seems like it would have been the logical thing to do if Sookie was truly in love with Eric). Sookie whines about Eric not trying hard enough to get out of a contract that was initiated by his rapist maker. It just seems to me like everything got turned on its ear for this last book and it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Everything she spent nine books building was destroyed rather haphazardly in the last two and a half books or so.
The final straw for me was Alcide laying naked on Sookie’s bed in Dead Reckoning. The breaking of the bond was a complete and total cop out.
:: CUE RANT ::
Charlaine has said repeatedly that she hated the blood bond because fans would ask her about it all the time. Well duh! She was the one who invented it and put it into her work. She’s the one that made it a big fucking deal. If she didn’t put enough thought into the mythology behind it that was her own stupid fault. This is the problem with her plotting on post-it notes and throwing in all of those bomb in the garden ideas of hers. I’ve done it before too. It sounds like a really great idea at the time, like you can’t pass it up, but then you have to figure out how to dig yourself out of the hole you’re in. Those ideas aren’t necessarily bad ones but they need to be explored more fully and she didn’t consider how the blood bond was going to comeback to bite her in the ass later on. She has no one to blame for that but herself, and by that point she had already built up Eric and Sookie’s relationship so much that it was expected that at some point they would become a real couple. Again, all her fault. That wasn’t fan pressure, that was her. To turn around and blame fans for having an expectation of Sookie choosing Eric in the end when she always planned for Sookie to choose Sam but built up nothing to make that decision logical? Well, I guess that falls under the realm of Sookie once again being unable to control her impulses and making a decision in the heat of the moment that she doesn’t completely think through.
:: END RANT… FOR NOW ::
Then there’s the issue of Charlaine’s rape apologist bullshit.
It pisses me off to no end that Sookie refuses to acknowledge what Bill has done to her and the way she excuses his behavior because he was experiencing bloodlust. It’s the same as saying, “Well, he was drunk at the time and he didn’t mean it so it doesn’t count.”
No means no, motherfucker!
Sookie isn’t the only rape victim in this story, obviously. Eric is also a victim of rape, and just like with Sookie, it’s an issue that’s completely glazed over like it’s no big deal. I’m not suggesting that Eric and Sookie should have been skipping off to support group meetings together, but jfc…
I get the impression now that Charlaine never meant for anyone to see Eric as a hero. Perhaps some readers have romanticized him too much and they have this flowery notion of who he is, but again, that’s partially Charlaine’s fault. She presented us with this fascinating character with more than a thousand years of living under his belt. She made him dangerously sexy and built him up to be a Viking sex god. He’s got the greatest butt Sookie’s ever seen and he’s a hell of a kisser. He defends the woman he loves, gives her what she needs and saves her life more than once. He takes a bullet in the chest for her, gives her his blood when she’s staked, covers her body with his own during the attack in Dallas, offers up himself to be bonded to her in Rhodes so she won’t be bonded to Andre… the list goes on and on.
If Charlaine never meant for us to see Eric as a romantic hero then why did she build him up to be one?
I’m disappointed for Eric to get the ending that he got as well. Not necessarily because he didn’t end up with Sookie but because it seems his ending mirrors her own in that he’s really in no better position than when this began. He’s negotiated a contract for a 200 year ‘marriage’ that pretty much makes him a slave to a woman he doesn’t want anything to do with. Eric has two choices, as far as I can tell. He could either submit to this marriage, as his maker desired, r he can take his own life.
What lovely choices he has, huh?
I suppose it’s unfair to say that Sookie should have used the Cluviel Dor to stop this marriage, and that it was her choice to save Sam’s life. However, it seems like the more heartless of the two choices to make. I think that shows her lack of feeling where Eric is, and it’s always been that way. Regardless of any build up there was between these two characters in the books, at the end of the day, I have a hard time believing Sookie truly loves anyone but herself, and even that’s questionable. Actions speak louder than words, and despite her claims to love Eric, she’s been cruel to him every chance she gets.
What I’ve come away with, from this series, as that Sookie isn’t a very lovable character. I have a very bad feeling about her now. Yes, we can throw pity parties for her all day long and that’s fine, but she’s just not very likeable. Despite her inner monologue suggesting a lack of tolerance for some of the people she risks her life to save, she keeps going back for more. She’s become a martyr, in my opinion, and that’s not very attractive. The Sookie in the first half of the series owned her decisions and it stopped feeling like she really gave a shit.
Again, I don’t know if that was Sookie’s evolution or if it was because of Charlaine’s waning interest in her own characters. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t sit well with me and it leaves me feeling as if I wasted a lot of time on this series of books. I never thought I would see the day when I would say that True Blood is the better option of the two.
Now do I agree with the death threats being lobbed at Charlaine on her Facebook page? No, I don’t. I understand outrage, feeling cheated and being upset by the end of the series. I am and I haven’t even read it. Making death threats is a big no-no and pretty extreme considering this is nothing more than a story I’m upset over.
It does, however, anger me that Charlaine knew the reaction to her last entry in the series was going to disappoint a lot of readers and she’s opted to hide out and have her PR machine weave a tail of woe on her behalf.
Your book sucked, and the fans called you on it.
Even more upsetting is that she thinks there’s a small group of fans that are basically whiners because we didn’t get the ending we were hoping for, for the pairing we liked best. That’s a bunch of immature horseshit. Yes, I’m sure there are some that are mostly disappointed about Eric and Sookie not ending up together. I would venture to say that the majority of those that are dissatisfied with the ending don’t feel that way just because their ship was sunk; it’s because her ending made zero fucking sense!
She said she had an ending planned from the beginning and she intended to stick with it. If what she always intended was for Sookie to chase her tail and suffer through thirteen books, then I’d say she did it fantastically. Unfortunately, the ending she had all mapped out didn’t match the story she told and it ends up reading like a ridiculous cop out and yet another rash decision by a woman that’s proven she never truly thinks anything through. And maybe that’s Sookie’s biggest character flaw, her inability to process a complete thought. Perhaps she’s too caught up in her self-righteousness to see that she’s losing out on a lot of good things in order to hold onto that anger and sense of being ‘right’.
I would have preferred to see Sookie end up on her own, a strong, independent woman who doesn’t settle for whatever safe crumbs are thrown her way. Instead she chooses Sam with her tail between her legs. I guess he’s better than no man at all must have been the logic there. The ‘unpredictable’ ending she came up with worked, but only in the capacity that she made Sookie completely unlikeable, at least in my eyes.
I won’t be spending anymore money on this series, or any of Charlaine Harris’ future works.