More Incestuous Than The OC

It took me awhile to read this book twice and I really wanted to do that to see if my opinions would change about it. They didn’t. I still love this book. In my opinion, it’s the best thing Charlaine Harris has written in the Southern Vampire Mysteries since All Together Dead. It’s not my favourite book. I think that will always be All Together Dead, but I think it comes close.

Unlike DAG, I thought DITF was a pretty balanced book in terms of the pacing and the ending also felt like a concrete, satisfying conclusion. The characters seemed to have their normal voices again. I’m sad to see Amelia go, but I did like the people who showed up in the books, for the most part. I mean, the weres I could do without, but they were interesting. The characters also had very balanced moments of playfulness and adversity which I really enjoyed. Every plot point was interesting in some aspect and I truly enjoyed reading the entire novel. There was enough Pam in the book making snarky comments and being awesome! I just felt like DITF rectified a LOT of the crappy stuff from DAG…One thing that always matters to me is whether I care about the B or the C plots or just want more Eric on the page. I find I did care about the subplots in this book with Hunter and Claude. Plus, the were arc was managed in a way which didn’t take too much time away from everything else. I just love my balance lol.

I think the part that was most playful was Sookie jumping into Eric’s arms like a monkey, while the moment that yanked at my heartstrings the most was when Sookie enters Eric’s house after it’s been ransacked and made a killing ground by Alexei and she calls for him with her voice breaking. To me, it was a clear indication of all the fear she felt in the moment, but also how much she loves Eric. Plus, Monkey Girl just showed the degree of intimacy that she and Eric share. My favourite part of the book has to be when Eric comes over to visit Sookie and it extends to meeting Appius and digging up Basim’s body. It’s just the most intriguing and interesting part of the book where there’s this delicious tension that is sustained throughout.

Perils of the High Seas

You know…I have a pretty horrible history with shipping, that is probably comparable to women choosing the wrong type of man over and over again…Most of the relationships I root for end up getting stomped on pretty bad. Let’s do a head count, shall we? Michael and Maria? Season 3 of WTF. Rogue and Gambit? Antarctica, Golgotha arc. Tim and Lyla? He Stops Calling Limbo. Kate and Sawyer? Retcon.

And the fans can get very, very ugly very quickly. I once happily called myself a shipper. Now I can’t call myself that with pride, having seen shipping get heaped with such bad stereotypes. I used to truly get upset when people stereotyped shippers…but I’ve seen waaaaayyy too many of the stereotypes occur to really do that anymore. Unrealistic expectations, ship wars, name calling, flaming, attacking. I’ve seen it all and I’ve become embittered to it all.

Givcn all of that…When it comes to shipping, I’m a vet, I’ve been through the trenches, I’m a hardened veteran and I have to say…Anything that the SVM and TB could possibly do to kill Eric and Sookie…I’m ready for. Both Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball are like fat-free yoghurt compared to the fattening, syrupy crap I`ve been given over the course of many years. So please keep in mind that I`m writing with the view that…it can get worse, much worse because I’ve got endless examples of things getting much worse to compare it to. Everything is relative. And to me, DITF is like a MASSIVE boon to Eric/Sookie.

Sookie Cooper Nichol Cooper Robertson

When Charlaine Harris said that Dead in the Family was about family, she certainly wasn’t kidding. I think the one scene that amused me the most was when Sookie goes to dig up a body accompanied by her vampire BF/hubby, her brother, her sorta father-in-law, her sorta brother-in-law, the guy she almost had a thing with, the guy-she-almost-had-a-thing-with’s current girlfriend, and the current flame of her boss who holds a torch for her. And if you’re wondering about the title…this is where The OC reference comes in. Sookie is kinda like Julie Whatever-Her-Current-Last-Name is…It’s through her that everyone is related to everyone else. And the grave digging scene epitomized the humour in this and the awkwardness. Aside from the LOLs, Sookie is truly proving to be a unifying factor between all the supernatural factions in the SVM universe, the vampires; the two natured, whether they be shifter, Werewolf, werepanther, weretiger etc; the witches; the fairies; and the humans.

Family is also something Sookie has longed for over the course of the entire series and in Dead in the Family, she finally finds it in an unconventional way. Sookie has always wanted the traditional conception of a family, a husband, kids, that whole bit, due to the circumstances of her past. She longs for what she has never had, stability and acceptance from the community as a whole. In DITF, it becomes clear that the family that Sookie has is less familial in terms of direct descent, but in the emotional closeness of relationships themselves. She doesn’t get a family defined by the names of the roles, brother, sister, father, husband, etc…but by the emotional connections to people. They are people like Sam, Pam, Amelia, Claude, Hunter and Eric. People with a direct closeness to her. There are those who are related through titles, like Appius and Alexei, but their emotional relationships to Sookie are unimportant. Through them, Sookie creates her own family, but they’re a ragtag bunch that really genuinely cares for her and in comparison to hallow wishes and traditional expectations, they’re worth a lot more.

Monkey Girl and her Viking Honey

She said the words! And Eric actually DID have a good reason for not coming to Sookie’s rescue in DAG! And it was all in the Prologue…lol. I also have to say that I read that prologue with a great deal of “AH-HA! I was right!” going on. Silver? Felipe/Victor drama? Can I get a cigar? The bedroom scene in the prologue also laid out a great moment between Eric and Sookie that was definitely a turning point for them in their relationship. Sookie knows Eric is telling the truth, both because of what her head is telling her, but also her heart. Bring on the ‘Aww!’ I think the scene also demonstrated how important Eric is to Sookie and how vulnerable he makes her.  Her despondency is evidence of that. He’s the guy who has the best chance of crushing her, more than any other.

It was all a great relief after the prologue and I think I finished reading the book the first time with a great sigh of relief. And a lot of giddiness too. Eric and Sookie have a newfound closeness and intimacy and you really see them both making an effort to make things work between them. There’s stubbornness and things aren’t perfect, but what relationship is? I was so glad to see the playfulness back in their relationship. I think I got all squee-y when Sookie jumped into Eric’s arm and Pam told the Monkey Girl to come back down to earth. To me, it’s more than clear that Eric and Sookie are truly in love with each other when they have moments like that. More than any other of Sookie’s relationships in the books, her relationship with Eric has seen the most detail into the tiny, inane, banal little facets of daily life. It’s the small moments that matter.

One of my favourite scenes is when Sookie and Pam kill off Victor’s lackies and Eric wants to rush to Sookie, but Pam has to warn him against it. Eric tells Sookie that he’s proud of her, once again showing that he’s always been the one who sees the capabilities that Sookie has and fosters them at the same time. With Eric, Sookie could be so much more than who she has trapped herself into being in a lot of ways. The world is her oyster. He helps her cultivate herself. In return, Sookie brings out the best in Eric. She brings out the warmth and humanity in Eric. He isn’t just cold, manipulative and unemotional. They complement each other well. I’ve always gotten the feeling that Eric is a pretty cool and funny guy, but only select people see that and Sookie is one of them.

It’s also worth mentioning that I do believe we got the answer to which vampire loves her in DITF from Alexei’s words to Sookie at her house when he’s gone berserk. He can feel the love Eric feels for Sookie vibrating off him and it practically goads him on. And given that Bill hops back to Judith before you can say tacky…

Basically, I don’t think Eric and Sookie could have had it better than in DITF. Sookie finally comes to a new level of acceptance of her relationship with Eric, a relationship which I think everyone was very worried about. She’s been damaged sexually, emotionally and physically, but she’s dealing with that and coming out the other side able to love Eric. It’s by no means easy. She’s truly a newbie to the relationship thing after all. Sometimes people think Sookie should cut Eric some slack and be more understanding, but well, Sookie has no precedent. Sookie also gets a bad rap because of the way her thoughts work…I always find this troublesome because the Sookie books are written in Sookie’s point of view, which enables Charlaine to deal with Sookie’s innermost thoughts, feelings, insecurities and secrets. So she’s not always the star girlfriend. No one is. Her thoughts may not be pretty, but it’s what she’s feeling and she can’t help but feel them. It makes her a real person, if anything. My innermost thoughts are pretty catty too, thank you very much.

Sookie’s feelings for Eric are evident on every page, but they’re not always obvious or the brightest and fluffiest, but you know what? Give me angst over fluff any day. There needs to be tension and imperfection or else it’s simply boring and unrealistic.

There are also many issues that Sookie has which makes it difficult for her to trust others. She also has a paralyzing fear of being abandoned. Her parents died, her grandmother died, Jason let her down and was absent, Bill left her and Quinn left her, Alcide used her…So I can understand why she doesn’t call Eric when he’s in silent mode due to Appius’ visit or thinks the worst of him. She doesn’t want to give herself hope and she doesn’t want to be crushed because more than anyone else, Eric has that power over her. Sookie’s distance towards Eric reveals what she feels and places an importance on who Eric is to her. He is the one person who can damage her beyond repair and now, more than ever, she’s worried that he will hurt her because she is the most vulnerable to him. Yes, I think she should place her trust in Eric because he has more than proven himself to be worthy, but Sookie also has cause to be cautious, due to her past and let’s not forget that Eric can be pretty manipulative and untrustworthy himself. It’s a two way street. Both Eric and Sookie have to work on their relationship, but you know what, I think it’s getting there.

From Appius’ crippling visit to Eric, Sookie has also reached the point where she sees Eric as a real person and not some supernatural, invincible creature that is unreachable and untouchable by someone like her. Sookie has always felt inferior to Eric and part of her distrust towards him is that insecurity. He’s a thousand years older than her, more powerful, more experienced, more beautiful…Why would he ever be with her? What is his agenda? She can’t trust anything Eric does because of her insecurity and also because she has never been sure of what she means to Eric. She’s human. By definition, she’s a droplet in the ocean of time that is Eric’s life. What is her significance to him? If she were gone tomorrow, would he care? Sookie is attempting to answer those questions herself as she tries to figure out if she can make things work with Eric.

Dead in the Family also demonstrated Sookie further distancing herself from a typical life with a husband, a dog and 2.1 kids. Sookie has always longed for the stability that the white picket fence ideal because of her fractured childhood and her parents dying. She wants what she was lacking in childhood, but not only that, she has been considered a freak all her life due to her telepathy. By conforming to society’s norms for women, she could be considered normal and accepted into society. However, she is slowly beginning to realize that the ideal is anything but and over this book and the previous one, she’s realizing it’s not for her. I think there is a reason why Charlaine offed so many pregnant women in DAG. It’s to show Sookie what she’s willing to risk in the world she’s living in. I think it also means something that Sookie is wondering if her Gran took something she wasn’t supposed to have by getting pregnant by Fintan. Some things just aren’t meant to be. It also seems like Sookie is considering what she could be instead of just a barmaid.

Sookie is also thinking about her and Eric’s relationship in the long term, which is a good thing. She has conceded that she could be with him for a few years. Hey, I’m taking what I’m given…and besides, I do think it would extend and that the possibility is definitely there that they’re pretty much it for each other. I’m an optimist and to me, it opens more doors than it closes. Oh and Sookie’s with Eric. You can’t get more definitive than answering the door wearing a t-shirt from your boyfriend’s bar. She can choose how many t-shirts to greet the Weres in and she chooses a Fangtasia shirt? Seriously. Taken. By this guy lol. Also, she clearly explains to Eric that she doesn’t need a gift, she just needs him. Unlike her first relationship with Bill, Sookie has truly grown in this respect. She’s learned how to communicate what she wants in a relationship. Plus, that’s just sweet! And you get to see the tenderness and intimacy there.

Sookie has also become colder and tougher in this book. She’s changed, but I don’t mind it. She needed to grow up and to mature. She’s no longer the naïve girl that started out the series. DAG was a huge turning point for her when it comes to her own strength and resilience. It was the first time she truly lost and had to face real consequences to her actions. For most of the series, Sookie has just been along for the ride, but starting with DITF, she’s truly starting to make a effort to be the agent of what happens around her, be it planning to kill Victor or looking before she leaps at the Were judgment ceremony. Sookie can never go back to who she was before.

Sookie makes a proactive effort in planning to kill Victor. Why? She’s always defended those that she loves with incredible ferocity and Victor has proven to be a threat to those she cares about. Firstly to Eric and then to Pam and herself. She wants to go after Victor mostly because he poisoned Eric and wants to destroy Eric’s position in Louisiana. She takes Victor’s actions intensely personally. He’s a threat to those who she cares about and also to herself and she’s ready to act pre-emptively. I think we’re finally seeing a much more pragmatic side to Sookie Stackhouse and one who acts as an agent, willing to get her hands dirty, instead of a proxy, like when Quinn killed Andre for her. See, going by that example, it’s not so much that Victor is a threat to her, it’s that he is also a threat to Eric, someone she loves, that makes her murderous.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Who wouldn’t love to see Alexander Skarsgard dressed as Rocky Horror for Halloween?

The whole aspect of the blood bond going haywire because of all the minds in it was interesting…because it afforded us one fact. If Alexei can feel Eric’s love for Sookie, Sookie has to feel it too. Even if she can’t place the emotion, it’s there and real.

I really loved Eric in DITF. We really got to see a different side to him, the side that has no control and the side that needs somebody. Eric is the vampire we have grown to know and love again…Instead of in DAG, where everything was just a bit off with him and Sookie. He had his humour and his strength, his moxie and cunning and also the sweet playfulness. Aside from that, we also get to see his vulnerability when placed in a desperate situation with Appius and Alexei. Okay, sure it’s ripped off True Blood and I could have done without the True Blood references in the text…but I think we need to see other sides of Eric as a character. This is a series and he needs to change and grow and be placed in different situations to be a fully rounded character. Let’s put it this way, he was vulnerable, but didn’t lose the essence of who he is. His vulnerability also let Sookie see that he does care about others. He doesn’t want anyone else to die at Alexei’s hands and realizes that any action he does to rectify that will only cause more death. Not only that, he’s also intensely human.

I really enjoyed Eric’s complex relationship with his maker. It’s both love and hate, equal and slave etc. It’s got so many layers that in the end, it’s something truly ambivalent. I liked how after Appius meets his final death, ironically to save Sookie who has murderous intentions for him, Eric is completely and totally free. I liked the way Charlaine Harris portrays that scene. It’s like Eric has a blank slate and freedom again.

Alexei…Well, having gone through a Romanov research phase when the Anastasia movie came out and then studying all the stuff about the Russian Revolution, it was nice to see Charlaine Harris dole out all the historical facts and link them back to Alexei and him as a vampire. He was truly a disturbed vampire and again, another case of someone making a child that just wasn’t meant to be and things ending badly…In this case, for Appius. I also found his disturbing personality interesting and fitting, given his trauma. Alexei’s trauma also brought out the type of person Sookie is. Yes, people have done horrible things to her, but she doesn’t see herself as above others and justify harm towards others just because someone harmed her.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

I really enjoyed Sookie forming makeshift families with Claude and Hunter. Claude is like Charlaine’s version of Lafayette and I love all his cracks about Eric. I giggled every single time. I also liked seeing another side of Claude apart from the crappy side. Hence, why I really enjoyed Claude’s interactions with Hunter. They were so unexpected, yet so welcome for a guy like Claude to like kids and genuinely like them. I also think with Hunter that Sookie is realizing she doesn’t need the traditional conceptions of a family, because there are other ways, like through Hunter to fulfill the need she has for a family or children. Plus, she’s got courtesy aunthood though Tara and Jason as well. It’s also nice to see Jason finally meeting his match in Michele.

It was interesting to see Dermot, but I think his story was the one that I didn’t care about in DITF. It was just pretty boring and unexciting in comparison to everything else. Why couldn’t he have stayed a murderous family member? *sigh* I kinda preferred him creepy…Oh well.

I saved Sookie Stackhouse’s life and all I got was this thank you letter

I really think Sookie has officially moved on from Bill. And it was truly amusing that she had to be reminded by Sam, of all people, to actually go see how pitiful his situation is. And that he might die and all she does is send him a thank you note for saving her life. It’s like, seriously? Lol. It becomes clear that what she and Bill had wasn’t true love or anything close to that. Hell, to Bill, it ends up that Sookie was simply a placeholder and an obsession. One more girl that reminds him of his former life.

Still, I can understand why she’s pleased that Bill is still pining over her and also miffed when he moves on faster than you can say tacky. Hell, I’d be. Because, this guy is your first love and you thought you’d be with him once upon a time and that your relationship was important to both of you…but Judith only made Sookie realize that she was a placeholder and that all this time, Bill was just holding out for someone else.

I think the reason why both of them are upset when they see other people is because they were both in love with the idea of who the other was to them. Sookie was this sweet, naïve girl that reminded him of the Southern belles of a bygone era for Bill, while Bill represented Sookie’s innermost desires to have someone, a boyfriend, to be normal. They each want this vision of each other to hold true in the other’s eyes, but the illusion has been long stripped away. They want to remain special in each other’s eyes…but that’s just not the case. You always want to have an important place in someone’s life that had an impact on you and to find out that it meant nothing hurts.

I think it really says something that he’s going after someone who looks like his wife. He’s never moved on, never adapted, not really. He’s always longing for what he had, always looking into the past, never the future. He can’t smell the roses on enjoy what he has now. He only realizes what he had when it’s too late. The way he just jumps back towards Judith was just tacky…and amusing.

And his whole line about how being close to Sookie makes him feel better? It was “Bring the mace!” creepy. So many of Bill’s lines just come off as creepy rather than sexy or cool. In all honestly, I think Bill has been completely wrapped up as a character. Unless he becomes a cross-dressing kabuki actor, he’s just a waste of space in the series. He just is no longer important to Sookie, so he’s not important as a character in the series anymore.

Bill’s past? Bring on the Ode to Lame Angst. At this point, it just seems like such retread and Bill’s whole recalcitrance at being a vampire is just annoying. The whole obvious fishing for sympathy just annoys. Lorena sucks as a maker…Every sucking thing about Bill is because of Lorena…Blame Lorena! Bill has immunity from his own actions because it’s all Lorena’s fault!

So over you, Boo-hoo Bill.

Were do we go? Were do we go, Sweet Child, Sweet Child o’ mine?

One thing about DITF is that it also set up the bulwark of future conflicts in the books to come. It’s apparent that something is going to happen between the weres and humans and between Victor and Area 5.

Alcide proves himself once again, to simply use Sookie, like back in Book 5. And the scene at the judgment ceremony also highlights how much Sookie has changed. Once she would have taken the drugs, no question, but now she’s wiser, smarter and hardened and she asks the questions. Still, the whole aura thing and Sookie on drugs was amusing.

I think it was Skye who said that Basim al Saud was like Sayid from Lost and I totally agreed and of course he dies! *sigh* Oh well. The were stuff itself in SVM has never been the most interesting thing about the series, but in DITF, I liked the way that the sideplot didn’t overrun the story and balanced out well and crossed the main plot when they went digging for Basim’s body. Plus, it provided the conflict for the next book. Can weres really be integrated into society when they really are a vicious threat swept under the rug? People honk their horns for equality, but can they say the same when they see what the weres are really like? I like that Charlaine Harris looks into how people can be hypocrites that way.

We also found another placeholder relationship in the form of Sam and Jannalyn. When Sookie wonders why Sam would bring her to his brother’s wedding instead of Jannalyn, it becomes clear that it’s not exactly a lasting one. And I don’t think Sookie’s qualms against Sam’s relationship with Jannalyn are because she’s jealous and wants to be with Sam, or only wants Sam to pay attention to her. It’s because she’s his friend and wants the best for him. And let’s face it, I don’t think Jannalyn is good enough for Sam…

And of course, Victor…I will be sorely disappointed if that storyline does not come to a resolution in the next book. I mean, it’s building to a fever pitch! I really loved that this book had ample Pam moments in it and one of my favourite scenes is when Pam and Sookie kill off Victor’s lackies. I really love the two of them working together as a team. Plus, Eric’s reaction afterwards was pretty classic. Anways, Victor has truly become a major threat to everyone in the series and he’s down two men…so there has to be a big showdown in the next series, please!

Really, DITF had me truly looking forward to the next Sookie Stackhouse novel…and I can’t wait!

Singing off now, because this is freaking LONG!



2 Responses to “More Incestuous Than The OC”

  1. […] *READ MORE* […]

  2. What a thoughtful, succinct and humorous analysis. You’re on point all the way. As a latecomer to the series I’ve had the pleasure of wolfing them down in succesion.

    Live long and prosper, lol

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