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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Dead Reckoning  - Charlaine Harris Formula for Sookie books: --nostalgia for her grandmother and a way of life that's been over for about ten years now--disappointment when nostalgia does not match up with real life--nail polish--a sexy dress that shows off her cleavage--attraction to more than one man--self-recrimination about attraction to more than one man--instant orgasmic sex--judging others for not being Christian/being violent/being sexually 'deviant' --self-recrimination about being too judgemental--failing to be a good hostess in a situation that doesn't require hostessing--self-recrimination about lack of hostess skills--hanging out with fairies, who are generally acknowledged to be amoral--self-recrimination for judging fairies and having her illusions shattered--hanging out with weres and vampires, who are generally acknowledged to have societal structures built on maintenance of power by violent means--self-recrimination about hanging out with weres and vampires and seeing violent things.--screaming when surprised by violent things, followed by--crying when violent things are over--impulsive, poorly-executed attempts to stand up for herself --self-recrimination about said attemptsHarris, unfortunately, doesn't vary the formula in Dead Reckoning, reminding me why I burned out on Sookie--she has almost completely failed to develop, continuing to act like a naif, surprised and unaware of the supernatural world she has been immersed in for years.Take, for instance, when Amelia and Bob visit, and Amelia says she has found out how to break the blood bond between her and the vampire Eric. Nevermind that Sookie spent the first part of the book reflecting on how the bond has offered her protection, and had it reinforced when Eric had to visit his Regent, Victor. Nevermind that Eric came to the bar both times she was in danger, ready to save her. Nevermind that she hasn't said word one of her desire to be free to Eric, or even to herself. Poof, like that, she does it. Completely thoughtless, selfish and heartless. Sookie remains a sixteen year old girl, unsure if she is 'in love' if she isn't in the midst of raging hormones or drama. Worrying what other people think all the time and not taking the time to think for herself, and 'breaking up' because she wants to know if he really loves her. I've come to realize that one sure way to spoil a series for me is if there is no character growth through the stories. By no means is Harris unique--I quit Kim Harrison for the same reason. And Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Hmm, I'm noticing a theme here. Protagonists stuck in the emotional issues of the early twenties, struggling with self-awareness and relationships, usually rather feminine but stuck in a non-stereotypically feminine role that highlights their incompetence. Good for three books, perhaps even five or six if one draws it out, but eventually, I'd prefer evolution. And development of competence.The lack of progression coupled with the writing is a challenge for me. Try this on: "Sam, a compact man who was actually immensely strong, was dusting the bottles behind the bar. We weren't very busy that night." Thankfully, there weren't too many instances of such awkward phrasing, but it highlights the fact that I'm not reading for the prose. Characterization is inconsistent: Alcide does something exceedingly strange when he hasn't made an appearance for the entire book, then isn't heard from again. Then there's the rare 'two-dollar' word tossed into the midst of generally simple and straightforward language, a strange delicate blossom in a forest of oaks. It was justified in an earlier book by Sookie having a "word-of-the-day" calendar.On the whole, I (gasp) prefer the HBO series over the books. At least I don't have to focus on Sookie all the time, and I get to enjoy the beautiful people.Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/dead-reckoning-by-charlaine-harris-or-sookie-ad-infinitum/