Monday, August 5, 2013

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: Club Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Recorded Books
Rating: WARTY!

Welcome to the Sookie Stackhouse Self-Pity Party! Yes, I'm back with another Charlaine Harris extravaganza of sucky tedium on audio!

You know, there's something I don't get when I read other's reviews of say, volume one of a trilogy and they rake it over the coals and then conclude with the revelation that they're looking forward to volume two to find out what happens! Why? Why would you put yourself through that if you didn't like volume one? So what's my excuse? Well, I have it on good authority (I hope) that book four is really good, but in order to get there, I have to get through book three (do I really? honestly?). You know how they say "Three's a shame"? No, they don’t! But three is a shame, because I have to confess I was so ready to ditch this novel after three chapters because it is so god-awfully whiny and tedious.

Those first three chapters consisted almost literally of nothing save Sookie (Suck-ee from here-on out; the reader is the sucker...) whining about how much she misses her boyfriend vampire Bill who typically treats her like dirt, yet she's utterly devoted to him. So devoted is she in fact, that she only gets horny for every supernatural guy who comes in her orbit (to coin a phrase), and no one else! This woman is sick. Seriously. Suck-ee needs therapy. Sookie Stackhouse is also a complete moron for whom I have absolutely no respect. Contrast that with the TV version whom I really like. What does that tell you? When she's not whining nauseatingly about Bill (which isn't often), she's describing what everyone is wearing down to the most tedious detail imaginable, or she's describing what she's doing down to the most tedious detail imaginable

And Harris is so repetitive: she keeps trotting out things she's already explained more than once in volume one and all over again in volume two like your average reader is a moron. Perhaps that's true for people who are helplessly addicted to this series. I really find it hard to believe that book four can be that great, quite honestly, but that volume will have to be outstandingly incredible to make me go anywhere beyond book four, rest assured. At least by then Ally Carter won’t have the dubious distinction of being the only writer for whom I've reviewed four titles and given largely bad reviews!

The tediousness in Club Dead is mesmerizingly brutal. Harris seems like she can't keep herself from describing every excruciating detail no matter how mundane; when Sookie is packing to go on a trip, for example, we read: "I got out my suitcase and opened it" like we don't get that, in order to pack, you need to actually open the suitcase first! Later we're treated to a detailed description of how to clean a frying pan. I am not kidding. Is Harris deranged? Or is it just her devotees, and she knows only too well what drivel she's writing? At one point, Suck-ee actually has this thought: Somehow, it had never crossed my mind - I guess since I'm an American - that the vampires who had snatched Bill might be resorting to evil means to get him to talk. You know what, Suck-ee? You don't have a friggin' mind to cross.

So what of the so-called story here? Well, Bill mysteriously disappears, telling Suck-ee that he's going on a mission for Eric, when he isn't. Suck-ee has a snit, claiming to the reader that she's usually been an integral part of the investigative team, which is an outright lie. They've had only one assignment, which was in book two! 'Usual' isn’t on this bus! When Suck-ee discovers that Eric is sending vampires to guard her, she also learns that Bill has lied: he isn't on any mission for Eric or for anyone but himself and he's looking up an old vampire flame (his maker?)! Naturally Sookie is chosen to go find him because there isn’t a damned vampire on the planet who can find a missing vampire, as we learned in volume 2. And while we’re on that topic, Club Dead is exactly the same plot as book two: Vampire disappears, other vampires useless, Suck-ee to the rescue, dresses erotically, visits nightclub, visits hostile lair, gets seriously injured, engineers rescue of abducted vampire. That's it.

The vampire whom Bill visits is named Lorena (no word on if her last name is Bobbit!). Suck-ee requests that Eric 'take her out' (that is, kill Lorena - lest there be any misunderstanding!) if she doesn't come back from this mission on which he's sending her, and Eric agrees. Like I said, Sookie Stackhouse is seriously deranged. This is the kid her charming Old South grandmother raised? The genderism in Club Dead is even more disturbing than in previous volumes. Suck-ee relaxes by folding laundry, she's "self-educated from genre books"(!), she's ostensibly a nun, but dresses like a pro, she cooks and cleans for everyone, and entirely unsurprisingly, she pronounces milieu as 'mil-you', not 'meal-yuh', and fracas as fray-kass, and not fra-cah. At least, Parker does in the narration, let's say.

So what's with this 'vampire organization'? I honestly don’t get this. In Club Dead, it's rigidly organized, and Harris explains it (in too much detail as usual). Each state has a monarch, and under the monarch is a number of areas, each of which has a sheriff. Given that, why are they called 'areas' and not 'shires'? And why on Earth would vampires even care where state lines are? This, to me, is purest bullshit. Given what we're told about vampires in this novel (and in other vampire novels) vampires buck authority at every turn, yet the novels would have us believe they exist in nests with a king or a queen and a hierarchy? That, to me, is so pedantic that it's laughable. Why write a vampire novel and then belittle your topic like that? I can see that in a comedy: Terry Jones's Brasil meets Bram Stoker's Dracula. But to be taken seriously? Fuggedabowdit

And what's with vampires being obsessed with and sexually attracted to humans? Honestly? That's like saying humans are sexually attracted to chickens - and yes, some are, but those people are considered deviant. Why would vampires, whom we're told repeatedly have nothing but disdain for their food, be even remotely interested in us as sexual objects? It's farcical, yet we get it in most every vampire story there is. Can no author break out of this pathetic mold? Well, Maybe Bruce MccCandless can. His story is well off the beaten vampire track!

While we're on the subject of things I don’t get in the southern vampire so-called mysteries series, why is Harris so tickled pink by her Elvis Presley vampire? She never calls him that; he's always referred to as Bubba, but if she's scared of being sued by his estate, then calling him Bubba isn’t going to help her one bit given that she's already positively ID'd him by writing all around who he is.

Let's get back to the purported plot. Despite constant whining about how much she misses the completely bland and uninteresting Vampire Bill, Suck-ee has no problem at all in powerfully lusting, with very other thought, after her escort in this novel. He's a werewolf called Alcide, but I shall hereinafter refer to him as Rancid. He's a real man who drives a man's truck and eats man's food and talks with a man's voice. He probably makes manfarts and takes mandumps, too, and no doubt Suck-ee will get around to giving us the low-down in due 'coarse'. But now Harris has me wondering what Bill is. Or Eric. I mean if Rancid is such a manly man's man, and very manful too, where does that leave the previous men in her life? Oh man!

Rancid is working for Eric (who is the only character in this entire novel who makes for remotely acceptable reading); Rancid is in Eric's debt for his father's gambling and that's why he's escorting Suck-ee to Jack-off, Mississippi, where (exactly like the previous novel) she has to dress up like a wolf's dinner to go to a night club and listen in on the thoughts of others. Of course, she's 100% spectacularly successful in all cases because there is always one of the bad guys guaranteed to be running off at the mind on the very subject she wants to learn about. Rancid's old boyfriend, over whom he's really hurting, just happens to be having her engagement party there, and she trots over to diss him and his 'girlfriend'. I was dearly hoping that Suck-ee would have some tart one-liners for her, but intelligent and/or amusing repartee is was evidently well outside of Harris's reach.

Tera is also there (why?!) and she and Suck-ee do a raunchy dance to the thrill of everyone there. Then she wonders why the 'Weres' hit on her! This leads to her becoming injured and she's rescued by Russell Edgington, the vampire king of the state, who insists she come back the next night. When she does, she saves the life of Russell's number two (not to be confused with Rancid's mandump), but gets staked herself instead. Of course, Eric is there to rescue her. Eric also gets to lick her tears. I am not kidding you. Suck-ee has zero problem with this, yet bitches and whines endlessly about Vampire Bill's possible unfaithfulness.

Which self-respecting girl (and one in a supposed love relationship, to boot) would let another guy lick her tears? We're expected to believe that vampires get off on all kinds of human body fluids, but evidently this applies only if they relate to crying and blood. I seriously doubt there will be a volume in this series where we'll see Harris extol the joys of licking sweat, or swallowing semen, chawing ear wax, or gulping down the golden rain.

Needless to say this novel sucked almost exclusively. The only salvageable parts were the ones where Eric showed up. Why Harris can write him as quirky, interesting, and issuing amusing comments while everyone else in the entire novel is boring as a Rancid Mandump is the Southern Vampire mystery.