Dec 11 2008
All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7)
by Charlaine Harris
As a long-time fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series (yes, long before there was a True Blood), I’d been anxiously awaiting All Together Dead, the 7th instalment in the Southern Vampire series for some time.
Sadly, I was mostly disappointed by this latest effort. My first reaction was that it felt as if the book had been written by someone else. All the great characters are still there, but they just don’t sound quite right. This certainly did not stop me from reading the book, but I didn’t burn through All Together Dead as fast as I normally do with the Sookie novels, and I often had to re-read bits of dialogue before they made sense. In the end, it was a good story, but getting to the end wasn’t as enjoyable as it normally is with Charlaine Harris’s books.
I’m guessing one of the reasons for the shift in the tone is that the story involves New Orleans, and I suspect All Together Dead was written – but not published – BEFORE Katrina struck, and then required some hasty re-writes in order to accommodate the tragedy. This is no fault of the writer’s, and I had actually been wondering how they were going to handle the hurricane since the last book took place almost entirely in New Orleans, and many of the characters came from there. Ms. Harris did a good job of recognizing the tragedy, and working her story around it, but that doesn’t change the fact that parts of the book didn’t quite flow. The stories that were took place back in Bon Temps felt truncated, like they should have had more time allotted to them. And the overall mystery was full of big, glaring clues that left me frustrated with the characters for missing them.
I also wonder if the fact that the series has now been made into a TV show is starting to factor into the development of the story? Sometimes All Together Dead had the feel of a TV show that has been tinkered with by the network. You know, the “this character needs more of a story – get her in a relationship”, or the standard “we can’t have our leads getting together before the end of the series, so let’s give her some new love interests” type of changes. Obviously I’m not sure about this, it’s just the feeling that I sometimes got while reading.
All that aside, there were still some great things about All Together Dead. Sookie has grown quite a bit in these last 2 novels, and I think that’s important for the future of the series – things need to advance in order to keep the stories interesting and believable. I love that she has a new roommate, and that she’s becoming more of a prominent figure in the supernatural world. I enjoyed getting to know Barry the other telepath, and liked that he and Sookie figured out how to work together to achieve better results. And I’m actually a big fan of Quinn, so I also enjoyed the growth of their relationship as well.
Overall, the character development was great, and I’m eager to see where Harris will take Sookie and her supernatural crew in the future, but All Together Dead was not the best instalment of the series.