Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dead Ever After #ugh #ohmygod #dnf

Well, it's happened. I've met a book that I absolutely couldn't finish. And it's not that I couldn't finish it because it was the first in a series and I couldn't get into the book. I couldn't finish it because it was the last in the series and I refused to let the author massacre a world I loved so much.

Charlaine Harris is an amazing writer. Let's just get that straight. She's brought legions of fans from all over the world who enjoy romance, mystery, crime, etc and said, "I've got a book for all of you."

And holy hell was she right. I devoured her books so quickly, my husband thought he'd never get to talk to me again. He may have hated the name Sookie. Maybe he still does.

Then a very sad thing happened: True Blood.

When the show came out, I thought Yay, these characters get to come to life!

What could be better? Eric (I drool, fawn, love, and die every time he's on the page), Bill (Can he just say my name that way? KRYSTAL. No, I guess it doesn't work as well.), and Sookie all on TV together. But the show's writers, director, producers, whoever, ruined the hell out of the connection to the books. They made it smutty--more smutty than the light, comedic Southern Vampire series. They made it trashy. They shredded the story lines.

As a writer, I thought to myself If these were my characters, I wouldn't be able to watch this.

Then I read Charlaine's next book. Something had changed. I sensed a path that didn't flow well with the story she'd written so well and beautifully for so long. I couldn't put my finger on it. But I put that aside and rode a new excitement: the author gave the main character something that could give her a life she loves with someone who loves and adores her, and the main character's grandfather said something that made women all over the world swoon.

Okay. I'll put that initial worry aside and keep reading.

So, the twelfth book came out. Yep, TWELVE, 1-2, and I felt like the author's heart wasn't in it. I felt like Charlaine reached inside the pages of her work and performed an AUTHOR INTERVENTION. I had an editor once who warned me about AUTHOR INTERVENTION. She described it as a moment in the story where the characters said or did things, well, out of character that felt intentional in order to guide the story in a new direction. So, I sensed this in book 12. I hated it. It didn't feel natural, right, real, or good.

As readers, we LIVE the words on those pages. We FEEL the characters' feelings. We EXPERIENCE their lives. We WANT things to end well, especially for HEA Romance readers.

So, when a book takes a twist or turn and a new path blooms, we shouldn't feel like OH NO. NO. What is the author doing? Why is she making this decision? Why? That's not how the cluviel dor was supposed to be used. That's not how things were supposed to go down!

If the reader puts on the brakes, it's a BAD SIGN.

By the end of book 12, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to read book 13. But I did. I actually pre-ordered it. $15 for the KINDLE version. Can you believe that? FIFTEEN dollars.

So, anyway, I put off reading it for days. I knew. I just KNEW things would not end the way I wanted. I knew, and the idea made me sick. Sookie's loved one was promised away for 200 years of SEXUAL SLAVERY. And the author changed Sookie's character SO MUCH that Sookie didn't do anything to stop it. Like, eh, he said he loves me and that what he has to do doesn't mean anything, but it does. Oh, how it does. Umm, honey, you should have saved his ass.

Frankly, none of it made sense. Why Eric would give up so easily. He's been in love with and protecting Sookie since BEFORE THEY EVEN MET! Charlaine wrote this amazing story between them. She brought redemption to a man who initially didn't appear to possess one redeeming quality. She made me fall in love with a new fictional character when I had thought I loved Bill. She painted Eric in this beautiful light. God, he LOVED her. He loved her so much that he cried (Eric, beautiful, strong, stubborn Eric CRIED) when the fairies hurt her.

But something changed in Charlaine's life. She swears that the ending of Dead Ever After is what she envisioned two books into the series. Well, then, why the hell didn't you give clues and hints earlier on? Oh, sure, Sookie wanted babies. My God did we hear about them often enough. But two words: cluviel dor. You could have saved Eric, dumbass. That's who you should have saved. That's who you loved. That's who loved you. That's who you deserved and who deserved you.

Not your boss (at least, that's how I think it ends due to some of the reviews I've read...but I'm still pretending book 4 is the end of the series). Not your boss who's mind you could read. How you always looked at as a brother. A family member. Who you never showed an interest in. Sure, he's a great guy. He's always been there for you.

So why put the readers through the ringer with Eric? Why show us that he NEEDED--no, he DESERVED redemption only to give him a MEA (miserable ever after) ending?

Why assassinate your characters with intentional AUTHOR INTERVENTION to guide your story a different way than the path it naturally flowed on?

My guess? True Blood.

My guess is that show ruined how she felt about her books and characters.

Or something.

I don't think I'll ever pick up another book by Charlaine Harris. Not because she's a terrible writer, but because I can't trust her. She broke the contract between reader and writer of romance, the type of romance where the main relationship lasts forever.

I'll probably rant about this again in the future, should I ever decide to finish the book, but right now...I just can't.

There are too many other things out there with a happy ending, with an ending where the redeeming character doesn't end up a sex slave, miserable, and away from the one he loves and has protected for years.

The End, Charlaine Harris.

The, horrible, sad, broken-hearted, End!

Oh, and in case you're wondering.... 1 Star for me. I recommend reading the series, but stop around Book 10 and make up your own ending.


  1. This is exactly how I felt after Dead Reckoning #11 (I went and looked it up). She changed the story to fit what they were doing in the show, and I HATED it. I've thought about trying to read the rest just to say I did, but I don't want to lose the love I had for the previous books in the series. Thank you for reminding me why I stopped reading in the first place. Now that I know she's going to make it even worse and there's nothing to redeem it, I won't even bother. :)

    1. I'm a glutton for punishment because I kept going. :( So sad. I'm not sure when I'll recover from this.

  2. I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I know what you mean about feeling that an author has lost their love for a series. Around Book 12, the Dresden Files series does an about face and I knew reading that book that it wouldn't be the investigation-focused, noir detective style of story anymore. I was disappointed, and then Book 13, Ghost Story, almost put me off the series for good. I took a chance on the latest one, Cold Days, and it's confirmed my suspicions that the nature and tone of the series has changed completely. It was a good read, just not the Dresden Files I fell in love with.

    1. Ahh. So this happens to authors often. Maybe they should just stop at, you know, 10 books. Maybe anything beyond that is too much? LOL

    2. Quite possible. I know I'm very glad I had to change my series into a trilogy, so I should be able to avoid it.

    3. I'm not sure I have the attention span needed to write anything past three books in a series. :-)

  3. I was interested to read this as I've just finished Dead Ever After and published my own review. I actually did enjoy the book, but I totally agree with you that it doesn't feel like Harris had her heart in making it a great ending. It's been obvious to me for ages who Sookie would choose. I'm okay with it, but it just seems such a shame that the relationship she spent years building was taken apart piece by piece over the last few books in the series so that it could never provide a decent conclusion.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know there are a few people out there who will. My issues weren't just with the characters either. I also had problems with the lack of action. 40% and NOTHING was happening. Just sad. Sigh. I really don't know why Charlaine did that. If she wanted Sookie to be with Sam, she should have given them more time in the spotlight. Less time building Eric up. And, you know, maybe give HIM a happily ever after.

      I promised myself I'd stop ranting. I'm done. Sort of. ARGH!

  4. You read more of the series than I did. I too like you would read until my eyes were too tired to go on, then rush out and purchase the next book. After True Blood the love affair ended. The changes in her writing ere subtle at first but soon I couldn't handle the effect TV had on the characters I was loved.

    1. Sorry for typos, using IPad this morn. :-(

    2. Typos? What typos. I don't look for those in comments...only in ms's I'm editing. :-)

  5. Great article. You're making a lot of sense, unlike some of the 'fans' who seem to have gone a little crazy on Amazon and Goodreads.
    I loved the first few books. I read number 12 a week or so ago and thought it was pretty bland. Such a pity the series went so far south. Perhaps it's a good lesson to all authors to not write such a long series.

    1. I tried to write something without bashing. I felt pretty emotional about this series. I've invested years and time and money into it. So when I felt it sliding...yeah, my heart hurts still.


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