The “Southern Vampire” book series is the series on which that “True Blood” is based. I know that doesn’t raise the integrity level, but the two are nothing alike. While I am a guilty watcher of the HBO paranormal melodrama, Charlaine Harris’ mystery book series is the real treasure.
Unfortunately, the TV show left out the mystery, but invented and expanded quite a few characters. In the books, Sookie Stackhouse is a Louisiana cocktail waitress with high moral values, spunk and the ability to read minds. Vampires “came out of the coffin” two years prior and are fighting for equal rights with humans. Sookie meets Bill Compton, a vampire who was “made” in the Civil War era fighting on the side of the South. Bill and Sookie start dating, leading to all sorts of trouble — 10 books worth, so far — for her and mysteries to solve.
That’s the basic plot of the TV show too, but this is also where they diverge. In the books, Sookie is brave and charismatic. She’s clever, witty and a pure delight to read about. The show has become more about the other characters (like Eric, though portrayed differently from the books, still extremely well done by Alex Skaarsgard) because Sookie is kind of bland.
The “Southern Vampire” series doesn’t stop at vampires — it also has werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, demons and a plethora of other supernatural beings. However, Harris integrates these creatures into the world she’s created more seamlessly than any of the other current vampire stories. The books are smart — they’ll keep you guessing and cause the reader to care for the characters they’re reading about. Harris also blends politics and the human race’s tendency to hate what it doesn’t understand into the mix, making the series intriguing and timely — the vampires’ fight for the right to have “mixed marriages” with humans draws a parallel to the present-day gay rights movement.
If you like “Twilight” or any of the other recent vampire stories to hit the shelves, you may not enjoy the “Southern Vampire” books. However, if you’re looking for an ambitious series that will help you heal from reading that difficult Russian literature for your 499, make you think and make you laugh, this series is for you.
Caroline Russomanno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.