Throw-Down: Southern Vampire Mysteries vs. True Blood

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Does life suck more in tv- or novel-land?

Bonus blog post! Not only am I posting this from the past, it’s on a day I don’t normally post. How exciting is that?

Awhile back, fellow blogger Liv Rancourt and I got to chatting about the differences between the HBO show True Blood (in which I’m pretty well-steeped) and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries (all of which Liv has read), and we ended up having a pretty long conversation. One thing led to another, and now we will celebrate the start of True Blood‘s new season and the recent release of Deadlocked with a FOUR-PART SERIES of blog posts discussing the differences between the books and the television show!

Let the throw down begin!

LR: Okay, Kristin, let’s get ‘er done. ;)

You’ve watched all four seasons of True Blood and I’ve read all of the Southern Vampire mysteries. Now it’s time to compare notes. Your recent blog posts suggest that you’re a mite bit tired of ol’ Sookie and her friends. What’s your favorite thing about the show, and what’s not working so well for you now?

KM: My biggest problem with the series sprang to mind first, so I’ll start there! (Sprang… what a weird word.) I’m bothered by the constant escalation of violence: the show has upped the ante so many times that it’s become harder and harder to shock the audience. It’s forced the producers to show really graphic violence, from a vampire king ripping someone’s spine out on national television, to a main character getting shot in the head in horrifying detail. The other side of the coin that I actually like is the realism that comes with this violence. The show writers and producers aren’t afraid to dance around truly appalling issues, like drug use in the poorer areas of the South, abuse, incest, and even just the harsher sides of friendships and love affairs. This unflinching vision of the fictional Bon Temps is probably what keeps me sticking around—in addition to the sexy men, of course. The world and the characters are real and fully imagined.

So I’m going to turn the question right back at you. I’ve only read a couple of the novels, and the twelfth book is coming out in May. Have they “jumped the shark” or are you still enjoying them? What are your gripes and likes?

LR: I think the answer to your question depends on how committed you are to the series. Like, if you’re the kind of person to hang around Ms. Harris’s website and endlessly debate whether Sookie should end up with Eric or Bill, if you use a calendar to track the days till the next book’s release, or if you’re planning a summer vacation to Bons Temps, you’re probably still along for the ride. A more casual fan, though, has likely noticed a change in energy, tone and style, and has maybe become disconnected enough to stop reading. I’m somewhere in between. I’ve spent time on Ms. Harris’s website, though not recently, and I’ve found the last two or three books to be more episodic and darker in tone, and generally a little disappointing.

Some of that darkness is a result of Sookie’s ongoing maturation and integration in the supernatural community. She’s done some things that would have disturbed her younger self and she’s had to find ways to cope with those deeds. On the other hand, especially with this last book, I thought maybe Ms. Charlaine had watched a little too much True Blood while she was writing it –  that the show had influenced the book, and not necessarily in a good way. The more recent books don’t have the frothy funny energy that the older books had, but whether you see a shark in the water depends on how hardcore a fan you are. And while I haven’t pre-ordered the next one yet, I will.

Intrigued? You’ll have to tune in to Liv’s blog next Saturday to learn just where our conversation will go. We’ll talk about Sookie’s Mary-Sueness and how those crazy fanged men in her life use and abuse her.

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