Dead Ever After

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read the last Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris, but plan to read it, I would suggest that you do not read this post.

I followed Sookie Stackhouse on her adventures before the TV-series True Blood made her so famous. I remember seeing one of the books in a bookstore with this cool and colorful cover. I picked up the book, read about it and decided I had to begin to read the series. Before True Blood first aired, I had read all the books that then were on the market. After that I continued to read. Even when I felt that the series had lost something and that Harris probably should start thinking about ending it.

Yesterday I finished the last of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. More than anything it was a book that tied up loose ends, even ends that I didn’t find particularly loose. I’m all for tying up loose ends, all for getting a good and clear ending, but in this book she brought in bad guys that I had considered over and done with. They were gone from Sookies life and gone from the story. But now they were back in a last attempt to get revenge on Sookie, by getting her in jail or, failing that, killing her. There was no new bad guy, but several old ones. Unsurprisingly, they all died. If they had done anything else, they would still be considered loose ends, I guess.

In my mind Harris lost some of the fire in the books, several books ago. It was almost too easy to guess what would happen, early on. Both with Sookie, the bad guys and in Sookies love life. (Normal life, some big thing, someone wants to hurt Sookie or blame her for something bad, hot sex, Sookie must be brave and do something dangerous, Sookie quarrels with her boyfriend – whoever that might be at the moment – Sookie gets beaten up before, or while, she figures out who the bad guy is, Sookie gets saved, maybe hot sex again.) This book was not really any different, but the fact that it was the last book about Sookie changed it a bit. For one thing, this time when I understood who her love affair would be, I knew that this was the last one; this was the guy she would end up with. Or, if she didn’t end up with him, the rest of us wouldn’t know; the series would have ended.

Another thing that was a nice change was that even if Sookie got through many trials, she had more friends and helpers by her side than ever before. Everyone she had become friends with throughout the series came rushing in to help her. There were some twist and turns, naturally, but she got a lot of help. Sookie, who was quite a loner to begin with, was now surrounded by friends. That was kinda nice, but again, everyone from earlier books came through this one, to say hi and goodbye, one last time.

The book was the end of the series and it was full of endings, but in and for itself it had no story, no purpose other than being the end. All in all, it was a summary of all the other books. Harris herself stated that this was the end she had thought about writing all along, something I myself have wondered about; why she wasn’t ending it and how she planned to do so, when the time came. Of course I don’t know if she really planned this end or not, but it doesn’t feel planned to me. It feels more like someone finally told Harris it was time to pack up, cut the ties and let Sookie – and the moneymaker that she is – go.

That has been the problem in the last books, the way I see it. I really liked the series, really, really liked it. I have read the first few books more times than I can count. But in the last few years the series has lost its fire, thrill and originality. The last four or five books has been the same story spun in a different way, more or less. And I got the feeling that Harris used Sookie and the series. That she didn’t end it because she was earning a lot of money writing it, and not because she actually had more to say. That is not a good feeling to get when you read something that you initially enjoyed.

So Sookie and her universe are now put to rest and not a bit too early. While I do feel a little sad, it’s also good to know that it will not get any worse now and that when I want to read about Sookie again, I can always take one of the first books from the shelf.

(If you are one of those that enjoyed Sookie and her friends to the very end; I’m happy for you. I wish I could have done the same, it would have felt better, but it wasn’t for me. Different people like different things and have different opinions.)

The Wheel of Time and Story of O

Spoiler alert! If you have not read “Memory of Light”, the last book in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (and partly by Brandon Sanderson) or “Story of O” by Pauline Réage, but plan to read one or both, I would suggest that you do not read this post.

Yesterday I finished “Memory of Light”, the last book in a very long fantasy series. The book is a brick, bigger than a brick actually, and it took me about a week to finish it. I read every free moment that I had, and a bit more. One could presume that it was a good book, since I made a point out of reading it as fast as I possibly could. You would presume wrong. That’s my opinion, at least. The whole freaking book is a battle scene, or maybe a hundred pages pre battle and fifty post battle, but that’s still 750 pages with battle. That’s a lot of battle.

The language is good, more than good, the characters and dialogues are satisfactory and the descriptions are worth reading, sometimes twice. The problem is, when I notice things like this, the story has not gotten to me. The story has not been able to draw me in and make me forget all the details that make or break a good book. Because all I saw when I read the book was the ending of a great saga, it was a battle and it was where all the loose treads met. Again and again problems or persons from the past showed up, said their part and was put to rest, one way or another. Not until the last hundred pages of the battle did one of the main characters die, and there are a lot of main characters. Not that I wanted anyone to die, but what is the chance of them not dying in a battle like this? Slim, very slim. The few who did die also lost their lover; they died in pairs. Seriously?!

So while I gobbled up the book in big chunks, it was because I wanted to know what would happen, how it all would end, not because the story fascinated me to no end. All respect to Jordan and Sanderson for creating a saga that has given me and so many others many an hour with excitement and fun, but I think it ended quite strangely. I like happy endings very much, but in this case, it was too happy.

After I finished with “Memory of Light” I picked up “Story of O”, again. This will be the third or fourth time I try to get through the darn book. Originally I thought that I should read it just to have read it, because it is a classic, even if a bit peculiar sort of classic. I think the words are pornographic classic and I have read about it on a lot of the BDSM sites I have been through. It seems like it is one of the must read books. Now, I don’t mind classics, but I don’t read them on an everyday basis, or even monthly basis, either. The classics are, naturally, old books with strange and old-fashioned language and dialogue. They can be a bit hard to get through, for me at least.

“Story of O” is the worst of the classics I have tried to read so far. I don’t know how much of it stems from the fact that it is translated and how much of it stems from the fact that it really isn’t a good book. There is so many spelling mistakes that I want to pull my hair in frustration. How could anyone publish a book with that many mistakes! This is the only thing I know is related to the translation, but it’s just the beginning. Next is the language. Okay, the book isn’t new anymore, it was first published in 1954, but the language is slow and twisting and the sentences can be very, very long. None of this is good.

The story … isn’t actually there. There is very little, no intro what so ever. It starts with O going to the chateau, and it’s two beginnings, in some strange way. First one scene is described, then the same scene is described again, almost as if the author don’t think she did well enough the first time. You get no introduction to O or her lover, no real explanation to what is happening and why. Not even if O really wants this or not. That last point is what gives me most problems later in the book.

Some would say that O gets more than enough chances to walk away from it all and that she wants to be there, and to some point, I agree. On the other hand I get the feeling that she did not know what it would entail to be with her lover and that when she knew, she was so much in love with him that she could not walk away. Is it still voluntary when she was not informed from the beginning? I get that O is far from some scared virgin, she really isn’t, but when I’m wondering if she really have given her consent or not, then something is missing. Because of this missing bit a lot of the rest cease to be interesting, at least for me. I don’t want to read about a woman who is beaten, prostituted and used, if she has not chosen so herself, willingly and fully informed.

I feel that there is very little story and what there is, is far too slow and badly written. I took a peek at the end page (something I have done a handful of times in my whole life) just to see what it would say. The last page tells of an alternative ending. An alternative ending! As if the author could not decide which ending she wanted. I think I rest my case. This is a daydreaming project put to paper, but not a book, not an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. The only thing that is really there is the middle.

Now I know what a pornographic classic is: the difficult language of the real classics paired with the bad storytelling of pornographic stories.

If anyone have read the book and liked it: I’m happy for you. It’s always nice to find good books. That I more or less slaughtered the book does not mean that I don’t know that others have liked it, and will like to read it in the future. This was simply not my kind of book, that’s all. After writing this I think I just might put “Story of O” on the shelf again, permanently this time. There are so many other books I would rather read.

New books!

I bought some books on the web a little while ago, and today they arrived! Yay, new books! Books teeming with vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, magic and witches. Books with lots of good characters and dialogue, action and fun, and of course hours of entertainment! I can’t wait to read! Or, to be frank, I couldn’t wait; I have already started.

The book I decided to read first was “Etiquette and Espionage” by Gail Carriger. This is the first book in a new series, and since I absolutely loved the last series by Carriger “The Parasol Protectorate” I have high hopes for this one too. So far it hasn’t disappointed. It’s set in the same world as the other series, but a bit earlier in the timeline, I believe. Imagine Victorian England, with a lot of steam driven mechanics, werewolves and vampires; what’s not to love?

Sophronia Temminnick is fourteen years old and a trial for her mother, because Sophronia isn’t like other girls at her age. She likes to climb, explore and dismantling things to find out how they work. One day her mother sends her away to finishing school. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. The thing is, while you learn to dance, to curtsy, to handle a parasol and drink tea properly, that isn’t all you learn on this finishing school. On this school you learn how to finish things, other people’s life, for instance. It’s probably not quite what her mother imagined, but Sophronia might just fit right in.

A quote from the book:

“Now, remember that, Miss Temminnick, do – a lady never shoots first. She asks questions, then she shoots.”