Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Published: 2001, Ace
I recently tried reading Laurell K. Hamilton's vampire series, but stopped because the first one was just too dark. So violent and icky. And you might say, "well, Jennie, duh, it's about vampires. They're dead people who drink blood, what did you expect?" But I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style stories. You know, nice vampires.
So a friend recommended Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series as an alternative. Dead Until Dark is the first. The premise is pretty cute. Sookie Stackhouse is telepathic, in that she can read people's thoughts. The problem is that she has trouble controlling it, so she is constantly assaulted by all the mental drivel that is floating around in the heads of all the people she comes into contact with. Can you imagine having to listen to all that? Obviously poor Sookie's social life is really difficult--especially dating.
Until she meets Bill Compton. He's a vampire who's trying to mainstream (live among humans). Bill's the first vampire Sookie has ever met, and she realizes that she can't read his mind. This is such a relief to her that she decides to befriend him. Meanwhile, a murderer is on the loose in her hometown and he seems to be targeting Sookie as his next victim. Sookie puts her telepathy to good use to see if she can figure out who the murderer is.
I enjoyed this book a lot--it's a pretty interesting mix of fantasy, romance, and mystery. Which by the way, I imagine makes it pretty hard to market. I found it in B&N in the fantasy section, which doesn't really seem right, but it doesn't really fit in romance or mystery either. I think there are five in this series; I'm going to go ahead and order the rest of them.