Thursday, April 24, 2008

I have written a couple of reviews for books and movies. In doing so, I have come to realize that writing an intelligent, useful review without ruining the story with spoilers is quite difficult (Especially in a series).

I became aware of the Dexter trilogy by Jeff Lindsay because of Showtime show. I loved the first two books of the series. Jeff has an easy to read style, and he utilizes first person as format for the stories. There is a sense of humor to his storytelling and he has a bit of an affection for alliteration, but not to the point of interfering with the mood of the story.

Darkly, Dreaming Dexter starts off the series and is the book that the first season of the show is based on (loosely as is the nature of such things). For those of you not familiar with the show, let me introduce you our anti-hero, Dexter. Dexter is a handsome, charming young man employed with the Miami police department as a blood splatter expert. He also has an unusual "hobby", he is a serial killer. He is a strange serial killer in two ways: he only kills people that are guilty of crimes and have escaped justice in the legal system, and he is disgusted by blood.

The first season of the show and first book agree on many things: the fact that he has a brother he never know about (who is also a serial killer), he has a girlfriend named Rita with two kids, and his adoptive father Harry being a cop and teaching him how to channel his psychosis. Meeting his brother causes a crisis of conscience, for lack of a better word, since Dexter admits freely he doesn't have one. Dexter has no emotions, except for the bond he developed with Harry, (and as a side effect his adopted sister Deborah, who is also a cop) and it resulted in a sense of family ties in his mind. While the show explores the horrible events that resulted in Dexter's state of mind, in the book Dexter openly says he's never been concerned with how he became the monster he is today. In the book, Dexter sees the signs that Rita's children are like him and decides to raise them with what he calls the "Harry code" and teaching them how to blend in. Rita and her children have escaped a severely abusive relationship.

The differences in the show and first book, make the following seasons of the show extremely loosely based on the rest of the books, almost like the show is simply set in the world of Dexter. In the sequel Dearly, Devoted Dexter, our hero has to cope with his sister knowing what he is and the effects on their relationship (if you want to know why she doesn't turn him in, read the book). He has to deal with a killer crazier than him and not being able to indulge in his "hobby", and accidentally getting engaged to Rita.

This book gave me mixed reactions. Jeff's style is still enjoyable and humorous. The antagonist grows in threat to the protagonist with each book, as it should. The parts where Rita discusses the wedding and honeymoon plans with Dexter, and how lost and confused he is about it all are very funny. His interactions with the kids are sweet and patient, he has a soft spot for kids, though he doesn't understand why. In this book, Lindsay goes for a twist on the tale. I'm not sure I like it, I can partially see why he went the direction he did, but I really preferred the set up of the first two books. The books ended rather abruptly for me, I wanted more Dexter.

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