I’ve struggled all day with how to describe the way I feel and how to express my thoughts and opinions about Dead Ever After. Two weeks ago, when the spoilers were leaked, I was saddened, even more so by the fallout. But, I have always loved the character of Sookie Stackhouse and I am stubborn, so I knew I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) forgive myself if I didn’t read the final book in the series. In fact, I struggled then to put into words how I felt and tried to express my disappointment, while being true to myself and this character I have loved for so many years.
I meant what I posted on Charlaine’s page that day and I will never waiver on that fact. However, let me just say this: Charlaine’s publisher should have just pre-sold a title page with “Put a stake in her, she’s done.” and not even bothered making Charlaine write this book.
I am not one of the original readers of the Southern Vampire Mysteries or Sookie Stackhouse Novels. In fact, my exposure to True Blood season 1 and the first 8 books happened in the same week and I can’t tell you which came first for me. However, I am a fan who has dedicated a lot of time, creativity and effort in supporting this fandom and I will say what I will about this book. Call me entitled, but I believe those who have fan sites, do fan fiction, role play.. etc. have a right to say when they are disappointed. If it were something as simple as reading a book, I’d just give away my books.
Dead Ever After is a slap in the face to the fans of this series and I am not referring to the whole “Who does Sookie choose?” aspect. In fact, that may be one of my least problems with this book. For twelve books, we have enjoyed the unique voice of Sookie Stackhouse, who has proven to be more than a simple barmaid. She’s a strong, independent woman who is trustworthy, caring and first and foremost, dedicated to those she cherishes most in her life. However, I didn’t see that Sookie in this book. Much like several of the other characters in Dead Ever After, the Sookie you meet is just a pod person. And even worse than that, Charlaine haphazardly flips the point of view of this book. Several chapters are spent shifting from one random person’s point of view to Sookie’s point of view and then to yet another random person’s point of view. This is done so sloppily that it killed the continuity of the book and honestly, left me looking for some Advil. But then again, as we all know, continuity is not Charlaine’s strong point.
My biggest problem with the book comes with the way she completely assassinates several of her most beloved characters. The two biggest victims to Charlaine’s reign of terror are Eric and Sookie. Though upset over her use of the cluviel dor, Eric remains distant from Sookie for the beginning of the book because he’s basically given up and given into Freyda’s will. He even forewarns her that some big bad is about to happen, but wishes to ensure she knows one thing before it does:
“No matter what happens in public— no matter what— don’t doubt that I love you and care about your welfare . . . as much as I am able.”
Eric Northman ~ Dead Ever After
This, of course, comes just the night before Sookie is forced the humiliation of a public divorce in front of Felipe, Freyda and Pam. The downfall of this beloved pairing comes not only in the pairings unwillingness to compromise on things such as a human wedding for Sookie’s benefit or even moving in together. But that fault lies with the author who was so focused on what she originally wanted, that she failed to realize her story took on a life of its own.
Her literary magic wand (aka cluviel dor) is her method of fixing the fact that even though I don’t doubt she always wanted Sookie and Sam together, she failed to even put him in the running for Sookie’s suitor. In fact, Sam hasn’t really been around as anything more than a friend since Dead as a Doornail.
Charlaine continues to paint Eric as negatively as possible. Even his “wish list”, which to me looks like he still cares for Sookie is twisted negatively by none other than his beloved childe, Pam:
“On the selfish side, he told Sam that he could not tell you that Sam had actually been the moving force behind bailing you out. On the less selfish side, he made it an absolute condition of his marrying Freyda that you never be harmed by any vampire. Not harassed, not tasted, not killed, not made a servant.”
“That was thoughtful,” I said. In fact, that changed my whole future. And it wiped out the bitterness I’d begun to feel toward a man I’d loved a lot. I opened my eyes to see the pale faces staring at me with round blue eyes, eerily alike. “Okay, what else?”
“That Karin guard your house from your woods, every night for a year.” Eric had already saved my life again and he wasn’t even here.
“That was real thoughtful, too,” I said, though with an effort.
“Sookie, take my advice,” Pam said. “I’m going to give it to you for free. This was not ‘nice’ of Eric. This was Eric protecting what used to be his, to show Freyda that he is loyal and protects his own. This is not a sentimental gesture.”
Karin said, “We will do anything for Eric. We love him. But we know him better than anyone, and this calculation is one of Eric’s strengths.”
“As a matter of fact,” I said, “I agree.”
But I also knew that Eric liked to kill two birds with one stone. I thought the truth lay somewhere in between.
“Since we agree that Eric is so practical, how come Eric can do without you both?”
“Freyda’s condition. She did not want him to bring his children with him; she wanted him to assimilate into her vampires without having a cadre of his own people.”
~Dead Ever After
So, apparently, Eric’s enslavement to the Queen of Oklahoma is just brushed off as a calculating political move. Except it contradicts not only what Charlaine has said about Eric since the beginning, but also what she says earlier in this book:
Leaving his job as sheriff was not something he’d ever planned to do. If ever there was a vampire who enjoyed being a big fish in a small pond, that vampire was Eric.
~Dead Ever After
And the character screwing doesn’t end there, in fact the “beloved couple” Sookie and Sam even basically admit to one another that they are settling for each other. Sam doesn’t like his taste in women and since they aren’t really the kind of women you take home to Mama, why not go with someone who is? Because, you know, mutual settling equals true love, right? Real romantic.
The story itself is just a bunch of fluff. One last hurrah to gather up pretty much every single character that’s been left hanging out to dry and just throw them all together. You can clearly see Charlaine scrambling to right every wrong she made in making Sam the winner of Sookie’s heart. There’s an awful sex scene where Sam practically begs for it like a teenage boy who is tired of getting to second base. I was disgusted by the description of the activity and appalled by Sookie’s use of words, I’ve never thought I’d hear that telepath say.
Though I could write for hours about every single thing I hated or disliked, I won’t. I’ve spent too much time on this book as it is. My only glimmer of the real Sookie comes in the final sentences of the book:
I couldn’t imagine a future without him. But I also knew that if he turned away from me at this moment, somehow I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish like the yard that still bloomed and grew around my family home.
I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here.
~Dead Ever After
This sliver of inner strength within the character I have loved for years, as well as the knowledge that Eric did what he did because he loves her, are enough for me to put this book away and never again read it. In fact, I still love the series. But since Charlaine seems to have caught a bout of amnesia in regards to the characters and stories she has created, I feel myself coming down with my own bout of amnesia and as far as I’m concerned, Dead Ever After never existed.
I will write my own version of the ending I see for Sookie. Maybe she’ll wind up Eric. Maybe she’ll end up alone. But you can bet, I won’t screw her over the way Charlaine did.
Below is the dedication page, the one to us, her fans. But I’m afraid I have this to say to Charlaine: I will never read another word you write. And you can take your false appreciation for your fans and file it away in that place where you hid the real Sookie and Eric.
If that makes me sound like an “entitled fan”, then please take a few moments to go through my website, read my blogs, listen to my radio show, look at my twitter account. I’ve earned the right to be entitled to MY opinion and though Charlaine gave up on Sookie. I haven’t and won’t. I just hope that the other outraged fans will find their own way to make the real Sookie live on. Whether it is in fan fiction, role play or whatever.
Sookie wouldn’t let this break her spirit and I won’t let it ruin mine. This isn’t goodbye to Sookie Stackhouse, this is a farewell and don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Charlaine.