BLOG There’s Something About Sookie

New to True Blood? Stacey Whittle has been reading the Southern Vampire books for years [contains minor spoilers]

It wasn’t so very long ago that I paid nearly twenty quid for a copy of a Charlaine Harris novel in Forbidden Planet Newcastle’s dungeon book room, the only copy they had up on a shelf out of reach. That was long before True Blood hit TV – now you’re able to buy a copy in the supermarket and wherever the DVDs are sold.

The TV adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse books is the huge hit True Blood, and as a big fan I had reservations about the series. But in fact I love it – and I love comparing the characters and the situations and reasoning out the changes.

For example in the books Sookie is my favourite character, probably helped along by the books being written in the first person from her point of view. Sookie is somewhat adorable, very sweet and beautifully naïve at the start but as the series goes on and lots of terrible things happen you can feel the effect they have on her – she really grows as a character, and it’s almost impossible to dislike her. But in True Blood, she’s my least favourite character. When you can’t “see” her thought processes she becomes petulant and almost brattish. Bill in the books I dislike, he is cold and distant but in True Blood this coldness is blatantly just “properness” and a sense of the time he was raised. I do however fancy Eric more in the books rather than in the flesh, so to speak!

I love spotting these differences and I love how Alan Ball the creator of True Blood has kept very much the essence of Bon Temps and the characters I adore but changed it enough to keep a television audience on their toes and guessing. Including me, as although I recognise a lot of the story threads, he has wound them in different directions almost entirely – for what appear to me as reasonable reasons. I was so relieved Lafayette survived in True Blood as he didn’t make it in the book version. That Jason got himself embroiled with the Fellowship of the Sun was a masterstroke as that give us access to them in a way that wasn’t really possible in the books because of the restraints of the first person narrative. Tara, a very minor character in the books, is a maelstrom of sass and heartbreaking sadness in True Blood, beautifully portrayed by Rutina Wesley who manages to keep her likeable.

Dead Until Dark

The first book with a new cover.

Although I don’t think Charlaine Harris is the best writer in the world (I’ve tried and am not keen on her other series) she has created a wonderful alternate world, which is believable. It’s authentic because she has created rules and characters which obey them. The vampires’ hierarchy and customs are vitally important and also so are the vampire “rules” – they cannot enter your home without an invitation, they cannot move around during the day, they have to obey their makers and so on. This creates a really real world which is a joy to spend time in. And Alan Ball has not destroyed this world with a crass adaptation, he has enhanced it and changed it and made it his own. And though I am yet to see the very end of season two of True Blood I feel confident to say it’s one of the best adaptations of anything I have seen.

The only downside to for me to the True Blood adaptation is I can’t get hold of the old style book covers for neither love nor money. I hate the True Blood covers on my Sookie books – I loved the style of the originals with little cartoon drawings overlaid with glittery stuff. Bring them back! I don’t want Anna Paquin staring at me from my bookshelf damn it! I would, however ,quite like a Merlotte’s tee shirt.

This is a personal article by blogger Stacey Whittle. You can read an interview with Sam “Merlotte” Trammell in SFX 197 on sale Wednesday 2 June.