Over the last several months, I have been listening to the books in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Originally, my goal had been to write reviews of each book. Because I listened to most of these books back-to-back, I can't remember where one book ended and the next began. Also, for the most part, I enjoyed each book equally. With this in mind, I decided it was best to write a review for the overall series. I am going to keep this review spoiler-lite, so you can read this review and potentially pick up the series from the beginning or finish the series up if you had put it down for a while. There are 13 books in this series, so it can be a lot to get through.
The Sookie Stackhouse series focuses on a young woman named (surprise) Sookie Stackhouse. She is a telepath (i.e., reads people's minds), and she hangs out with a lot of supernatural beings including shapeshifters, were-panthers, vampires, and fairies. At the start of the series, most of the books focused on some sort of mystery or crime. For example, in one book, several people in Sookie's town are murdered. In another book, a prominent vampire goes missing. The books also delved into Sookie's love life, but the mystery was the top priority. As the series progressed, each book continued to have a mystery; however, the primary plot point of each book was Sookie's love life and her friends. This switch can be most clearly seen in the final book, because the big question in Dead Ever After is who is Sookie going to end up with?
When I delved into the Sookie Stackhouse series, I didn't know what to expect. I had heard such mixed reviews of it. I had heard that people loved it, but the people I knew who had read it did not enjoy it. When I was able to get the first two books for one credit on Audible last year, I decided to give the series a go. I figured that worse case scenario the two books would be cheesy fun. Imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed them. I couldn't compare the books to The Great Gatsby, but the books were fun and I liked the characters. I found myself spending each month's Audible credit on a Sookie Stackhouse novel.
Audio: I usually wait until the end to talk about the audio, but I feel that I need to jump into this now. Johanna Parker was fantastic as Sookie (and the other voices). I don't know, if I would have pushed myself to keep reading the series, if I had read the books instead of listening to them. It was just so easy to listen to Parker tell me Sookie's story. In several negative reviews of the series, the reviewers cite poor writing as the reason for the low rating. To be honest, I rarely noticed any writing problems, because a lot of the writing sounded natural via Parker. As I have noted in other reviews, I always felt like Parker was just recounting her day to me when I listened to these books.
Okay, let's talk about the stories themselves. I was a bit disappointed that the books lost focus of the mystery premise as the series progressed. It seemed like the soap opera portions of the books became more important than the mysteries. I wouldn't have minded this too much, but Harris seemed to spend more and more time in each book setting up plot threads for later books. Also, the later books seemed to have a lot of padding (e.g., Sookie would use her mind reading ability to solve tiny crimes that had no bearing on the rest of the book). Because I listened to most of the books back-to-back, the padding and setting up of plot lines didn't bother me too much though.
As a random aside, I feel like I need to address the "sexy times" in this series. I went into this series expecting a lot of sexy times based on some of the reviews that I read. Harris is very inconsistent with the lovemaking scenes. Some books had no sexy times, some had a moderate amount of sexy time description, and some had some fairly graphic scenes. Granted, the graphic scenes weren't that graphic in the grand scheme of things, but they were a bit shocking when you went from no sexy times to fairly graphic sexy time depictions from one book to the next.
Final Book Review: All of the Sookie Stackhouse books were fairly similar in style to one another except for the final book, Dead Ever After. This book had both Sookie's POV (like the previous books) and third-person omniscient. I found this a bit unsettling and random. I don't think that the story would have made sense without the third-person omniscient, but I still didn't care for it. Harris also wrote the book in such a way that she did a "farewell tour." Almost everyone Sookie met in the series shows back up in this book whether they were needed or not. Also, I was a bit disappointed with how the final book ended. I didn't mind who Sookie ended up with. I felt that Harris left a lot of clues as to they guy Sookie was going to end up with. I just wished that Sookie had ended the series alone and happy. At the same time, I feel quite pleased that I guessed the guy and that I was right.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series. I know that I will re-listen to this series again. It is a fun series, if a little inconsistent at times. If you like to sit down and read a book in a sitting and romantic, urban fantasy is your thing, Sookie might be your gal.
I give this series 4 out of 5.