Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Dead Ever After (Southern Vampire #13)

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie---and could destroy her heart...

Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris, is the thirteenth and final novel in the Southern Vampire novel series. After using the cluviel dor to raise Sam Merlotte from the dead, both Sookie and Sam are finding it hard to concentrate on the bar business, Merlotte's, and speaking to each other. When a former barmaid, Arlene, returns to Merlotte's for her old job, Sookie has no qualms about rejecting her offer. Sookie wonders how did Arlene leave jail so early for plotting her death. Meanwhile, Sookie's relationship with former vampire boyfriend, Eric Northman, is in limbo when his Creator bequest him to the queen of Oklahoma. Suddenly, vampires (except for her protective neighbor, Bill), keep their distance and cold silence. When Sookie realizes she must give up her marriage to Eric, she is shocked and devastated.

When Arlene is murdered, evidence planted at the scene of the crime points to Sookie. Although the evidence is weak and she maintains her innocence, she is released on bail. With the help of her demon, wiccan, and vampire friends, she must discover the truth about Arlene's reappearance and murder. All she knows is that two mysterious men from out-of-town have a major grudge with her. They want to seek vengeance for the past and what she did to their lives.

It is incredible that I have read this novel series for almost twelve years. This paranormal mystery and romance series carried me through high and low points in high school, college, and graduate school (wow!). Sookie was the protagonist and primary reason why I kept reading these novels all these years -- her personality is quirky and basic common-sense with a Southern twist. Since I have relatives in the rural South, I can relate to the cuisine and culture of Sookie's universe. Harris created a world of vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters, fairies, wiccans and witches, humans, and telepaths living together with their own strengths and weaknesses. The beings wanted to mainstream with the human culture so that hopefully everyone will eventually accept them as equal citizens. It also saddens me that there will be no more Sookie Stackhouse novels after Dead Ever After.

I hope that Harris continue to write short stories and novellas about Sookie's adventures. At the end, I am pleased with her Sookie's final decision. Now in her late 20s (time does fly!), she realizes that vampires and fae can be such troublesome beings. In Dead Until Dark, she was a curious and naive telepath who wanted to try something different, someone whom she could not read their thoughts. Now, she has matured into a smart, pragmatic, and humble woman who knows what she desires and what to avoid. (Spoiler alert!) Sookie definitely deserved someone without drama and baggage (Go Sam!).

While all good things must come to an end, I thought this was the right time to end the series. It has been on a downard spiral since Dead in the Family. It became apparent later in the series that Harris was losing ideas and creating story arcs that became too complicated to follow. Sookie's life became more endangered as she has to survive attacks from vampires, fairies, werewolves, and humans. These evil plots also put a strain on her relationship with Eric. It was only a matter of time before their relationship would be doomed (much to many fans' dismay). Given Sookie's personality, once the damage has been done, there is no turning back -- she simply has to move on and live her life. She continuously insist that she doesn't want to become a vampire (and for good reason when it is revealed in Dead Ever After). She becomes content with her telepathic gift and wants to manage the bar business with Sam. No one knows what her future entails but maybe her supernatural drama will lessen once and for all. I don't think the final book deserved all the negative reviews (I wasn't a major Eric fan given his alpha-male and strategic personality), but it was the right call for Harris to end the series at this particular time.

Stay tune for the coda, After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse (expected Halloween 2013). It will provide the answers to your lingering questions—including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after. In the meantime, I will continue to watch more Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series, True Blood. While the television adaptation differs from the novel version, it is still entertaining and provoking. The sixth season will resume in June, 16 2013.

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