Rebecca's Reviews > Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
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's review
Sep 12, 2009

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bookshelves: made-into-movies
Read in September, 2009

Charlaine Harris is one of those authors who has great characters, moderately interesting stories, and only mediocre writing. Sookie Stackhouse is a great character; it's a shame that she doesn't have a better vehicle. The plots are interesting, but in both this book and the first one, they have an unfinished, first-draft feeling. Harris sets up a lot of plot points, but only roughly draws them together, and sometimes seems like she forgets about them until the very end, where she suddenly says "oh, yeah, I forgot those were hanging out, and it's the last ten pages, they're tied up with a pretty bow and we're done, ta da!" The maenad Callisto is a perfect example; she was set up within the first few pages of the book and referenced periodically, but never really dealt with, until the very end--then she pops up again, says her piece, and then goes on her way, with no explanation and without truly being used. Yes, she was sort of tied up, but what the point in her being there? Why go to all the trouble to research and bring in a Greek creature, and then barely use her? That's a lot of firepower to bring into a story, and then not truly pay it off.

We definitely see the limitations of the limited first person POV in the book. Since we're stuck with Sookie and her information, we only know something if she knows or experiences it. For her to find things out she either has to end up in all kinds of unrealistic or bizarre positions to overhear or see something at just the right time, or people have to come and tell her what's going on. That makes for some rather awkward plot predicaments, and also has the unfortunate side effect of reducing all the other characters pretty much to cardboard cutouts. They come in, they give Sookie whatever information she requires, and they go about their business. Bill and now Eric are to an extent more than that, but almost everyone else is still stuck as a sort of prop. Really, and once again, the book could have benefited from at least another hundred pages, maybe a couple of hundred more, to add some more structure to the plot and flesh out the other characters. I keep feeling like I'm reading her first draft that she was going to go back and fix later, but it somehow got published by mistake. I'll keep reading, because I'm curious to see where she goes from here, and also because I hope that she'll learn from some of these rookie mistakes and get better as she goes along.
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