Thursday, November 25, 2010

Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Ace, 2007
324 pages

Definitely Dead is the sixth book in the Southern Vampire series featuring telepath and self-proclaimed barmaid Sookie Stackhouse. This is the book series that became the hugely popular cable TV phenomenon, and True Blood the TV show is quite different from the books. I get confused sometimes. But things are starting to make more sense now. I think.

Let's see. In the past five books, we've learned that Sookie is irresistible to vampires, especially Bill the Confederate Army soldier and Eric the Viking. Her brother Jason and boss Sam are both shapeshifters. Sookie is now acquainted with witches and fairies. It kind of makes you wonder what's next. Book 6 provides a major revelation about Sookie . . . turns out, there's a genetic reason for her uniqueness. (Which I won't reveal yet. Sorry! Will have to see where Book 7 takes it.)

Of course, there's more of a plot than that in Book 6. Lots of things are going on in tiny Bon Temps, Louisiana: Sookie gets an unofficial request to help with a police investigation of a missing boy; the parents of a missing werewolf stalk Sookie for answers; and Sookie has a new boyfriend (a were-tiger named Quinn who kind of reminds me of Mr. Clean). Oh, but we're just getting started, for now the creepy Mr. Cataliades is in town to fetch Sookie to come to New Orleans. You see, Sookie's cousin Hadley - a vamp tramp-turned-vampire and one of the Queen of Louisiana's favorites - is dead again. For real this time. And by command of Her Majesty, the newlywed (to the King of Arkansas) Sophie-Anne, Sookie needs to close out Hadley's estate. When Sookie arrives at Hadley's place, she finds a "newborn" vampire waking up, and all heck breaks loose. She also learns the real reason for her summons by the Queen. Never fear. Sookie will save the day.

Definitely Dead introduces us to some new characters, including the Queen (we may have met her already, but we get to know her so much better in this book) and Hadley's landlord, a "good" witch named Amelia. We get to know Quinn a little better, and it's very clear that Bill and Eric are not the only ones in love with Sookie. There's now a third serious competitor. Who will win Sookie's love? I guess I'll have to keep reading. And watching.

I can't help myself.

Previous books in the series that I've reviewed:
Book 1 - Dead Until Dark
Book 2 - Living Dead In Dallas
Book 3 - Club Dead
Book 4 - Dead To The World
Book 5 - Dead As A Doornail

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson
Translated from Swedish by: Reg Keeland
Knopf, 2010
576 pages

My Swedish friend Katarina introduced me to Stieg Larsson's work in 2008 when she gave me The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium series. I didn't read it until May 2009, but when I finally did, it blew me away. I pronounced it "the greatest mystery novel ever written" in my blog. Book two, The Girl Who Played With Fire, was even more riveting. I wanted to read the third and final book -- The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest -- right away, and yet I didn't because I didn't want it to end. My curiosity finally got the best of me, though. So here we are.

The second book ended with a cliffhanger: heroine Salander had been shot, buried alive, and was being rescued; meanwhile, the "Bad Guy" was (we hoped) bleeding to death. Book three opens from the perspective of the surgeon who's working on both characters and then shifts to a totally new intriguing story that features secret government organizations and cover-ups. Much of the book is focused on the police investigation and legal proceedings, so there's not nearly as much action in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest as in the previous books. It's more of a thriller than a mystery, but still moves at the quick pace we've come to know and love. We get to know some of the minor characters more (in particular, Giannini, Michael Blomkvist's attorney sister -- she rocks) and meet some new ones. I'm sticking to my usual "don't give too much away" policy here, but you can always find more plot details online if you want.

My biggest concern about The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest before reading it (other than coming to the end of the series) was that it wouldn't end to my satisfaction. I had read somewhere online that Larsson had actually planned a series of seven (or more?) books featuring journalist Blomkvist and genius Salander. However, when I finally got to the end, I felt as if most of my questions were answered.

Still, I'm a little depressed that there won't be more books. I maintain my opinion in previous entries that Salander is one of the most unique literary characters I've ever "met" and I will miss her dearly. The bottom line: I LOVE THIS TRILOGY. Stieg Larsson, why did you have to leave us so soon?

P.S. If you also liked the Millennium series, you might want to check out the three Swedish movies based on the books. They're in Swedish (of course!) but are subtitled in English. Noomi Rapace, the actress who plays Salander -- well, she totally is Salander -- great casting there. The movies follow the books about as well as any movie ever does. There's supposed to be a Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo coming out sometime next year and I will definitely want to see it . . . Daniel Craig should make an interesting Blomkvist. Not sure about some of the other casting, though. We'll see!