I’ve been a reading nut for the past few weeks, pretty much to the detriment of everything else that wasn’t work or required household jobs (like making dinner). Last September, HBO started airing True Blood, which is based on a series of books about a telepathic waitress who gets involved in some mysteries involving vampires and other supernatural creatures. Does that not sound like great TV or what? The TV series is highly enjoyable and right in tune with HBO’s other great shows like Rome (sigh. I miss you, Lucius Vorenas and your equally intense friend Titus Pullo).
Back to True Blood…it’s bright, sassy, and full of excess. In typical HBO fashion it’s excessive everything…violence, sex, humor, over the top characters. Someone summed up the show in three words. Vampires and hillbillies. It’s a pretty accurate description, but they are likable hillbillies. Some of them. Ok, most of them are pretty stereotypical., but I can’t help but like the show, even the vampires. Especially the vampires. Highly ironic considering I spent my entire childhood, teenage years and even some of my early twenties being scared to death of vampires. Really, I’m not kidding. I had a real, tangible fear of them. Damn you Stephen King and your Salem’s Lot. I read that book in high school. Literally. I kept it in my locker and refused to take it home. It scared the bejeezus out of me. I somehow convinced myself that if i only read about vampires during the day when they were locked away in their hidey holes (aka coffins), I would be safe from them. I had nightmares for years about them. Until I read It and then my vampire nightmares were hijacked by a really scary clown hiding in the sewer.
Anyway, the TV show is based on a series of books about a waitress (Sookie Stackhouse) and the vampires who have now gone public. I bought the first four books just after we started watching the show and began reading the first one (Dead Until Dark). I quickly decided that I wanted to watch the entire first season on HBO first before tainting either the books or the show with the influence of the other.
I had a hard time getting into the first book and adapting to the author’s writing style. I’m by no means a book snob. I read everything…good, bad, classics, pulp. Whatever. I give it a try. I was having trouble reconciling the character in the book with the actress playing her on the show because I didn’t like the way the character came across in the beginning of the book series. So I ended up putting the book aside until after the season ended. Then, I got caught up in basketball (Go Cetics!!) and CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. Then it was June and before I knew it, True Blood season 2 was going to begin. I started reading the first book again from the beginning and it was much easier now that I wasn’t doing a direct comparison to the show; the characters were able to live on their own. I flew through the first two books while we were in San Francisco, then watched the entire season and finally just read the last 7 books in the series over the past 3 weeks.
I love the books…they are fun and light and just like really good, filling, addictive candy. The books have become more fantastical as the series progresses. Besides vampires, you’ll meet were-creatures, shape shifters and fairies just to name a few. The book covers are elaborate and over the top… illustrations with just the right hits of sparkle, plus the occasional hovering vampire, flying coffin and gigantic tiger. I’m happy to say that the show is doing the right thing by the books. They’ve changed some details, fleshed out characters and moved some events around, but the overall feel is very good. I especially like that the author, Charlaine Harris, is very involved in the general show, even though she does not do any of the script writing. Did I mention that True Blood has an awesome theme song and opening credits? That song is so good I won’t even fast forward through it. (youtube to it!!)
HBO has also just started marketing a Tru Blood beverage. It’s a blood orange soda that looks exactly like what’s on the show. How fun! In the books/show, the vamps are able to go public because of the development of a synthetic blood substitute, Tru Blood, that allows them to live without human blood. (Of course, not all of them choose to drink it.)
I could write another ten paragraphs about the world’s reaction to the True Blood phenomenon. How some people feel the books and show are making elaborate social commentaries on a myriad of topics encompassing race, religion, homosexuality and poverty just to name a few. Personally, I’m not sure I’d dig that deeply into the show or the books. But that’s just me. It’s pure superficial entertainment on my part.
I can’t believe I wrote an entire post about a vampire book/TV series without even mentioning how good looking most of them are, especially the two main vamps. Do a quick True Blood Google search and you’ll see. You won’t be disappointed. Bill (dark haired) is pretty darn good looking, and Eric (blond Viking vampire)..he’s…well, let’s just use the word luscious. It certainly fits. So sad that I have to wait until next June for season three, but if they stick even a little bit to the 3rd book, it should make for some excellent TV.
Next up on my reading list is our October book club selection: Roast Beef’s Promise. It’s about a son who promises his dying father that he’ll spread his ashes in every state. I sure hope it’s funny. 🙂
And on the TV front is Dexter. Another superb cable show also based on a book series…but more on serial killer, forensic blood spatter analysts another time.
Happy Reading! (and watching!)