Thursday, April 24, 2008

Review: Club Dead (Southern Vampire #3)

“But when Sookie finally finds Bill—caught in an act of serious betrayal—she’s not sure whether to save him…or sharpen some stakes.”

Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris, is the third novel of the Southern Vampire series. Sookie Stackhouse has a secret gift: she can read people’s minds. It is December in Bon Temps, Louisiana. The setting is contemporary America, and she’s now about 26 years old. She stops by her vampire-boyfriend’s (Bill) home where he sits at his computer. They have been together for several months. He tells Sookie that he has a secret assignment no one—not even the vampire organization in his area—must know. Before she can attend her job as a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar, head sheriff vampire of Shreveport, Eric, summons and assigns Bubba (whom readers will recognize is the legendary singer whose name starts with an ‘E’), to protect Sookie.

While finding it difficult to cope without Bill, a werewolf attacks Sookie at her job. Pam, the vampire assistant to Eric, rushes to the bar to tell her the bad news: Bill is missing. This news unfortunately worries the vampire community because it is pertinent to find him. However, Sookie does not need to know that his secret assignment involves Bill’s vampire ex-lover. Eric gives her another assignment (her second task from the vampire community from the previous novel, Living Dead in Dallas) to travel to Jackson to find any information linking Bill’s disappearance and the head vampire of Mississippi: Russell Edgington. Before she can leave, she has someone to accompany her as a bodyguard on this journey—Alcide Herveaux, a pure werewolf. He must pay off a debt to the vampires if he does this necessary task for them. Despite the situation, he is one sweet guy (and has quite a nice body).

Alcide takes Sookie to a local club (‘Club Dead’ as he refers it) where shapeshifters, werewolves and vampires hang out at night. Before she can have a good time with him, a werewolf biker disturbs the romantic moment and attacks Sookie. A vampire rescues her. This vampire IS Russell Edgington. He is embarrassed by the awful disruption, and insists that she visit his place again. Is this Russell guy really all scary and influential as he seems? Alcide, upset about the club incident, returns her to his own home. However, when they begin to relax, the werewolf that attacked her at the club is found dead in his home’s closet. Does anyone know about Sookie’s background in Jackson? Are they trying to place her as the murderer?

Sookie must quickly find Bill to answer some unsettled questions. He can be still be alive (well, still existing, he is already undead) in the torture chamber or be truly dead like the ashes. She has some personal business to deal with once and for all—vampire or no vampire.

This novel concentrates primarily on the relationship between Eric and Sookie. Bill is only mentioned in four chapters, so Bill fans might be disappointed. There is stronger character development about new cast members, such as Alcide and Eric.

Harris describes politically and socially the existence of vampires in America and globally. Some nations (mostly liberal, first-world) have accepted vampires as legal citizens ever since the invention of Japanese synthetic blood, which gives vampires an alternative to human blood. Vampires are allergic to the sun, garlic, wood and silver. They must have an invitation to enter a human’s home. They have keen hearing, smell and eyesight like wolves and can fly. Authority and rank in the vampire kingdom depends on the vampire’s age: the older you are, the stronger you are.

Nonetheless, vampires are still far from having equal rights. Sookie is involved in a love triangle with THREE MEN in this novel. She also goes through a gradual emotional and psychological transformation so dark that it may scare some readers. While living in fear of her life and her close friends, I don’t blame her change of attitude! I highly enjoyed this book!

Stay tuned to the next novel in the Southern Vampire series, Dead to the World.

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