All Together Dead
The seventh book in Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries series, All Together Dead, wasn’t altogether great. The book started off with human telepath Sookie Stackhouse attending a meeting of vampires. It wasn’t the most thrilling way to start a book, especially one of Harris’, because those meeting were basically catching everyone up on their forthcoming summit. This was, of course, helpful for someone like me who’s missed the latest news, but I’ve seen needed information reintroduced in a much more innovative fashion than a big info dump.
Sookie comes home from this meeting and several other errands to find her current boyfriend, Quinn, running out of her house to greet her. After a passionate kiss and a roommate’s hasty retreat, the two quickly consummate their relationship. Although this creates a sense of continuity from the previous book, it shocked me. I missed the emotional build-up, and that this hasty sexual encounter happened within the first 35 pages of the book left me with an uneasy feeling as to what the rest of the story would bring emotionally.
The buildup of the summit continues as Sookie goes about her life and almost everyone she knows sits her down and has a serious conversation about why she shouldn’t go. There are also some lackluster discussions about her many confusing relationships. After we hear her reasons for going on the summit for about the third time, she finally boards a plane.
The Queen of the Louisiana vampires is being put on trial, and Sookie is part of her entourage, tasked with detecting subversion through the humans in attendance. The summit is exciting, with vampires from throughout the U.S. networking and differing political aims converging. Barry, her fellow telepath, is there and it is clever that they can communicate via their minds. Several mystery threads are also woven into the narrative, but the solutions are rather obvious. And, some interactions with Sookie’s other boys occur, leaving Quinn just as uncertain as Sookie and the reader as to where those relationships stand.
Although lots of exciting events occur, with lots of action, there’s not much emotion. Instead, Sookie would essentially recap what happened after the fact, which has far less of an impact than had the reader been privy to experiencing the emotions during the action itself. Part of the fun of a first person narrative is this immediacy, which was simply lost here. So there was a lot of telling, rather than showing, which dialed down the potentially emotion-packed events.
Sookie herself also rubbed me the wrong way here, and I’m generally a fan of her spunky, no-nonsense nature. But in this installment, she could do no wrong, and in fact, did everything right. Every nasty plot was foiled by Sookie. Every problem was solved by Sookie. Every attractive man, and even the not-so-attractive, was infatuated with Sookie. Part of Sookie’s appeal has always been her blue-collar, outsider nature, which is diminished among the preternatural, but in this book she was like a goddess. I’d like my imperfect Sookie back, please.
All Together Dead disappointed me and, surprisingly, the writing style was one of the things that bothered me. There were fascinating characters and rather interesting action, at least at the summit. But there were also all the boys to choose from and Sookie doesn’t seem to be able to make up her mind about them all. Of course, with so many adoring her, who could?