Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2017
Since Dead Ever After came out, I re-read the entire series twice, most recently over the last week or two. I was struck by how well Charlaine Harris laid out the story arc from the beginning. She hardly ever allows her characters to spend long, brooding pages analyzing their motivations, but she shows you those motivations through their thoughts, words and deeds. I know many folks were bitterly disappointed by the way the series ended, and I sympathize, but...

SPOILERS! BIG OLD SPOILERS!

I don’t see how Sookie could ever have ended up with the character that many people thought she should have. This character was completely marvelous in so many ways, complex, brilliant, gorgeous. But this series was always about a young woman who grows up in a certain culture, and who has absorbed the lessons of that culture, and who likes and understands that culture. There are clues sprinkled throughout the book, if the long and repetitive descriptions don’t do the job by illustrating cooking very traditional southern dishes (raise your hand if you know what a salmon croquette is), cleaning the house and keeping it tidy, respect for family elders, interacting with neighbors and taking them food when they are ill, going to church, working a job every day. None of these are things Sookie tires of; they form the bedrock of her existence. A thought that I always had when reading these books was, how is she going to be able to reconcile all that with her ties to the supernatural community? She isn’t trying to escape from her life, after all. She’s trying to find acceptance so she can keep that life, but without that acceptance, maybe taking love where it’s offered is necessary so she isn’t living life in a sad and lonely vacuum. More on this below.

There is a passage in the third book that is very telling (and there are many like it, but this is a particularly good example). Alcide has come to Sookie’s house for the first time to pick her up to do something for the vampires. She cooks breakfast for him before they leave.
“The kitchen smelled comfortably of breakfast and soapy water. It was a peculiarly peaceful moment. This was anything but what I had expected when Eric had told me someone who owed him a favor would be my entrée into the Mississippi vampire milieu. As I looked out the kitchen window at the cold landscape, I realized that this was how I had envisioned my future; on the few occasions I’d let myself imagine a man sharing my house. This was the way life was supposed to be, for normal people. It was morning, time to get up and work, time for a woman to cook breakfast for a man, if he had to go out and earn. This big rough man was eating real food. He almost certainly had a pickup truck sitting out in front of my house. Of course, he was a werewolf. But a Were could live a more close-to-human life than a vampire.”

There are other clues. Sookie longs to be married and have babies (recall a scene late in the series where Sookie broods over all of her friends and acquaintances who are getting married and having babies, and her sense of loss and longing is painful). She gets very frustrated with vampire politics and is always getting physically and emotionally hurt. Becoming a vampire herself is a horrifying notion and she is terrified when it becomes clear late in the series that Eric always intended she should be one. But her initial and ongoing involvement with the vampires is understandable too. She wants more than anything to belong to her culture (and in the last line of the last book, she tells us that she finally believes she does belong), but her long and bitter experience of being rejected for appearing other than human to the community surrounding her has shaped her. She is desperate for love and acceptance. When this acceptance is finally offered first by Bill and then Eric, she might be willing to take it, even it is a conditional love that requires her to do things she doesn’t want and that puts her in continual danger. Consider how badly she reacts when she first finds out the Queen of Louisiana paid Bill to seduce her.

But in the end, the option to live in, among and as one of her community surrounded by everyday love and the chance to have her own children is too strong. I feel like this conflict was described consistently, entertainingly, openly and skillfully throughout each book in the series. So yeah… Eric might have been the sexy choice. But he was never the choice that the whole series was building up to.
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