June is Audiobook Month, so I decided to wait until the month is just about over to talk to you, gentle blog readers, about the pleasures of listening to a good book.
Now, this is not always true, but audiobooks work for series with broad characterization, zany plots, and lots of detail that make it interesting, but missing those details does not ruin the story for the reader.
This is absolutely, wonderfully true for Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires series. Sookie Stackhouse has a few issues – she hears people’s thoughts, which makes relating to other humans a little troublesome. Sookie has good girlfriends, but she is catty with girls who cross her. She likes short dresses and big hair, but she has an unfailing sense of propriety. She’s innocent and a little naïve, but she will also kick your butt. People seem to die around her. A lot. Plus, her love life is a hot mess. She’s pretty sure Vampire Bill is the one for her, but vampire politics, other supernatural creatures, and a love of sunlight prevent the relationship from being smooth sailing. This series is complicated, the plot is loopy and twisty, and there are like a million characters. But it’s also super-fun, fast-paced, and Sookie is great company.
So why listen instead of reading? Because it’s too much. There are twelve books in the series so far, and by reading them, I can’t keep up with who is with whom and which guys are good (especially since it changes pretty often). But listening to the audiobooks, I get enough of the characters so I can follow, but don’t get so bogged down that I can’t enjoy the ride. And that is how I would describe this series: a very fun, twisty, complicated, scary, funny, violent, handsome ride.
The audiobooks are narrated by Johanna Parker, who does a pretty convincing Louisiana accent (although what do I know?), and she makes Sookie – the relatable, likeable gal that Harris created – come to life. There’s a sort of sit-down-with-a-drink-and-I’ll-tell-you-a-story quality to the books, and audiobook captures that. Parker also does a good job with the other characters’ voices. And there are a lot of characters. A lot of male characters. It’s no small feat that the listener can tell the difference between Bill and Eric and Sam and Alcide and … etc.
(Charlaine Harris, above, and Johanna Parker)
The prospect of starting a series can be daunting, especially if the series already has twelve books in it, and there’s no sign of it stopping (THANK GOODNESS). So if you want to try Charlaine Harris (and you probably should, since she’s coming here in October), let me recommend the Sookie Stackhouse audiobooks. (Although if you are listening to them in public, I must warn you that they are steamy. Not as steamy as the HBO show, but let’s just say that if I was on a road trip with my dad, I would definitely choose a different audiobook.) Start with the first one, Dead Until Dark, and work your way through Bon Temps, Dallas, Mississippi … I haven’t read them all, so I’m not really sure where else Sookie goes. But I will be glad to be along for the ride.