Top critical review
Dismal Outing For Sookie
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 7, 2009
I re-edited my original review for this book. Initially I gave this book a 2-star rating, but I've just finished a re-read of it today, 4/30/10, and I really had to change my rating to 1-star. I really hate this book; I've kept some of my original review and added new parts.
Spoilers may be present:
The book starts with the weres and shifters revealing themselves publicly, but then this revelation is mostly dropped. It's a prop to temporarily remove Sam, set up the first murder, and throw a red herring in later in the book. The murder victim dies in a truly grotesque manner; this person is also related to someone who the police chronically suspect of other crimes throughout the series. Been there. Done that.
The Were theme is basically dropped, and it's on to the fairy war. The fairies are divided between those who like contact with humans and those who want to close off the fairy world. In addition, the separatists want to eliminate anyone who is not purely fae. Of course, this means trouble for Sookie.
It's really difficult to care about this war. In DTTW, it was easy to emotionally vest in the witch war; you were on the side of the vampires/shifters since you had gotten to know them over several books. You also got to see the bad witches in a couple of scenes before the actual war so you knew who you were rooting against.
Niall and the fairy world haven't been developed enough. Enemy faeries are named and briefly appear, but who cares, there is no sense of identity. Even the "good" ones we know: Niall, Claudine, and Claude are wooden props. It's as if the author says "cue faerie" and *poof* Niall appears to explain another part of their boring war. Even a reveal about Sookie's parent's death feels forced. And it doesn't help that most of the war takes place off page.
Sookie always suffers some type of physical injury in these books, but what happens in this one is over-the-top brutal. Don't worry it isn't described in blatant detail although the aftermath of some of her injuries are; it's just the idea of it. Why? Why? Why? Some people will say that this event will make Sookie "grow." Sorry if the only way to make your characters grow is to cause them physical suffering, then it's time to wrap it up.
Equally disturbing is that Sookie commits her first murder in this one. She turns a person who is partially involved in the death at the start of the book over to people who exact their form of justice. Yet it is revealed, and she believes, that this person wasn't really the killer. Instead this person's worse crime appears to be assault, and yet Sookie doesn't stop the violence that follows, and this person dies. Plus she gives no thought or care to what has just happened. Yet several pages before, we have to read through how she blames herself for people who die in a bloody shootout when she is not remotely responsible.
The total logic breakdowns are annoying. For example, Dermott, one of the bad fairies, looks like Jason, Sookie's brother. Dermott approaches Amelia and Tray, Sookie's friends, to have them arrange a date with Sookie. Now really if I had a friend, and a guy who looked like her brother wanted to date her, I'd have to say sorry, that's not going to happen. The psychological implications of dating someone who looks like your brother are astounding. Amelia tries twice to get Sookie to agree, and then throws out the resemblance issue. You can almost hear the dat-dat-dah music playing as Sookie realizes a) scary fairy alert and b) maybe she should start warning people - particularly people who live with her - that she is in danger.
Even worse logic: virtually everyone - Niall, Claude, Claudine, Diantha (on behalf of Mr C.) - warns Sookie that the fairies are loose, and she is in danger. Sookie kills a fairy assassin in her garden. Does anyone in her fae family provide Sookie with a bodyguard? No. Eric learns that she's in danger and has killed the fairy. Does he send anyone? No, not until Sookie asks. Really? Eric who sends Pam or Bubba at the least threat or hint of threat to Sookie has to wait until he's asked?
Sookie gets werewolf protection in the form of Tray as part of her friend of the pack status. Poor Tray gets poisoned and Sookie sends him home. Then she decides she can't ask for anymore Were help since Tray got hurt in her defense. Um, really?! Maybe this is an indication of how severe the situation is? Maybe Alcide and his pack would like to know of the danger or take care of Tray and/or avenge him?
Sookie agrees to meet Amelia at Tray's to check on his condition. She's delayed and when she arrives almost an hour later, Amelia isn't there. She gets Bill to come (who btw can enter Tray's house without invite; I'm not sure if I've missed something.) Amelia calls in the meantime; she's at Sookie's house taking a shower and assumed Sookie forgot or was delayed and assumed Tray went to a doctor. Really? She just assumes her POISONED boyfriend went to a doctor and isn't lying dead in his house? She assumes her friend and roomate who is being hunted by killer fairies didn't show up for innocent reasons?
Want more? Sookie doesn't bother to warn Jason that he too could be the target of killer fairies until Dermott the Jason look-a-like comes to Jason's house. Jason is part fairy too, and while not GGP Niall's favorite, he falls into the hate category that the separatists are trying to destroy i.e. part-fairy human. Maybe a head's up would have been in order.
Sookie losing Bill at the traffic light, Sookie carelessly running up to her house unarmed by her fairy-killing weapons, Sookie hopping out of the car to get the mail when killer fairies are on the loose are all examples of additional illogic. The fact that Sookie feels compelled to explain her idiocy to the reader is a sure sign that the author hadn't worked out this plot. The FBI disappears halfway through the book (yes, the FBI), and we never learn why. I'm hoping we find out that Eric had them glamoured away or something because I don't think they normally go away that easily.
The suitors: in my original review, I said I felt Eric was not himself. I still think so to some degree. He's very open about discussing his turning with Sookie and discussing his maker. Since the maker is showing up in the next book, I guess that's why it was brought up here. It's just very heavy-handed foreshadowing. Additionally the best protection Eric provides Sookie is Bubba. Why in these books is Bubba the go to vampire? Certainly killer fairies merit a Pam or a Thalia for protection.
Also Sookie allows Eric to manipulate her without a fight. For example, his day person has Sookie bring a velvet wrapped package to Fangtasia. She never opens it or questions why she has to return it to Eric, and of course, returning it is significant. Has he glamored her? Sookie always challenged Eric. I liked when these two argued or flirted. Where's the spark? (Btw she does tell us readers that maybe she should have questioned things.)
She's even very accepting about some blood exchanges where the old Sookie would have worried and questioned how it was changing her. She might as well hook a straw up to Eric's vein with as much concern as she shows in this one. A wish for the next book - make the blood bond go away! If I have to read another passage where Sookie can't figure out if her feelings for Eric are real or magically-induced, I'm going to scream. Certainly when Eric's not around or asleep during the day, she can take a few minutes and figure it out.
Quinn shows up for a nanosecond and is gone. Not sure why.
Bill - the Ashley Wilkes stalker of this saga - appears to redeem himself by the end since Sookie says she "loves" him again. You know a man willing to die for you is just so sexy. Let's not forget that Eric was fighting right along with him and had also given Sookie his blood to help her heal, but she does not have this thought about Eric.
I actually liked Bill better when you could argue his motives. Does he love Sookie? Is he still lying to her? How well does he know the Nevada vamps? Potentially deceptive Bill fascinates me more than noble Bill especially in contrast to Eric's manipulative but straightforward manner. The stalking thing has become so old now that I just keep hoping Bill is going to do something in one of these books.
Also the suitor thing really needs to be resolved. Yes, a little romantic tension can be fun in a story, but it is just plain wearisome now. My eyes rolled into the back of my head (again) when Sookie questioned which vampire GGP Niall referred to in his comment at the end of the book. That was the moment I no longer cared who Sookie ends up with. Maybe she should see if Catfish is still available?
Favorite characters die in this one so be prepared. One particular favorite dies off page, and it is treated so cavalierly that I can't imagine what the author was thinking. Just so and so's gone. Really?! Oh well! It's not the idea that characters die; I resent good characters being sacrificed for such a lame plot and not being given an appropriate sendoff.
The writing in this one is so heavyhanded. Beyond the above mentioned suitor issue, I felt manipulated when some of the death's were intensified. For example, "How can I make this death more emotional? I know I'll make so and so pregnant then when I kill her (off page to boot), it will be that much worse." "Or I'll reveal something about Sookie's parents that will make certain bad guys' deaths that more satisfying." "Will Bill live or die?" By the end of the book, I just didn't care. I don't think the author did either because the book ends abruptly.
The humor is non-existent; I usually laugh out loud at some of the lines and some of the scenes from these books, but not this one.
And where the heck is Pam? We could have used a little Dear Abby to make it through this one.
I hope book 10 recaptures the charm of this series, but I can't imagine how. There is so much physical and emotional trauma for Sookie to overcome that I'm afraid the next one will be Sookie's sojourn into therapy, and I really can't see spending cold hard cash for that. I've learned a lesson though - the library is your friend; pre-read before you buy.