True Blood ruined Dead Until Dark for me. That's not to say I hated it; I liked it well enough for yet another "I finished my book at work and need to find something else, anything else to read" selection. But the one episode of the show that I've seen was the first one, so I either knew exactly or had an idea of how everything turned out, which ruined almost all of the suspense and surprises. I might have gotten more invested in the novel if I hadn't known, because objectively they were pretty well-done. Also, my favorite character from the show, the gay black cook, Lafayette, technically appears in the book but has no substantial part and no good lines. Boooo.
Setting all that aside, it really was not bad at all. 1) There was nothing in the plot that made me stop, shake my finger at an inanimate object and scold it for contradicting itself, which is a nice feat for something surrounding vampires and psychic girl-detectives and all sorts of crazy shit. 2) The characters were believable, as far as I can judge having never personally experienced True Life: I'm Poor and Southern. Or True Life: I'm a Supernatural Being, I guess. Or True Life: I'm a Psychotic Murderer... I think you get the point. I even managed to quickly get over my initially negative impression of Sookie, based off of both Anna Paquin and Sookie's opening lines of (paraphrasing) "Yes I'm pretty and blonde with blue eyes but oh I don't date because I can read people's minds and I call that my disability aren't I so cute." 3) The writing was fine. Not terrible, not terrific. Nothing made me roll my eyes and groan (except for that opening), nothing made me mark a certain line as great, but there were some clever enough jokes and solid descriptive writing. Doubtlessly influencing my opinion here is that my first two Balls Jr. books were straight-up romance novels that pissed me the HELL OFF, so anything would've been an improvement over that.
Am I going to continue on the series? Doubtful. It was an enjoyable way to pass the time, but I don't care all that much about the characters or what happens next. If I run into someone who offers to lend me the next book in the series, though, I might take it.
In short, more than passable popcorn reading, but not my thing.
(Technically this is my fourth book read, but it's the first review I've completed.)