Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jeff Lindsay's Dexter

I joined the Dexter bandwagon a little late in the game. I managed to watch the first four seasons during winter break in 2009. I dragged my mother along for the ride, as well. Isn't that what Dexter is about? Family values? 

And while I knew that the show was based off characters created by Jeff Lindsay, I strayed from reading the novels due to bad reviews I read on Amazon. Of course, reviews are always misleading - especially those on Amazon where several people base their reviews on the covers, titles and miscellaneous details without actually opening the novel. Still, I managed to bide my time just knowing that the first novel alone was adapted into a season, while the following seasons were independent from Lindsay's prose. 

While I'm still technically reading God Is Not One, I decided to hold off on the nonfiction piece by Stephen Prothero for a bit and read the first novel, which introduced America's favorite serial killer to the world. And while I'm quite sure I liked the first season - which is based off the first novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter - much more than the book, I do have an appreciation for it.

Much like the series, the novel opens up as Dexter hunts for a kill - in this case, Father Donovan. (I remember the series starting similarly, but I cannot remember the priest/child murder's name. The dialogue, which was the source of the bad reviews, seemed a little pointless - "'No,' he said. 'Yes,' I said. 'Oh, no,' he said. 'Oh, yes,' I said. He screamed, NOOOO!'" It felt like something one would find in a first year Creative Writing course. Something a professor might have pointed out to the class in a heartbeat.

And while our beloved characters are present, they take on other roles. Angel, rather than being a detective, is a lab geek like Dexter and Vince Masuka and rarely has any spoken words. Vince Masuka, while still seemingly creepy as hell, wasn't conceived with the same humor; there is even a case where Dexter describes him as a fake. LaGuerta is a petty detective, crushing on Dexter and rather venomous. It's her, not Doakes - who was the only character to carried his personality into the TV world - that uncovers that Dexter is hiding something, though her friend is very much in the know. 

It felt as if Lindsay was plot-motivated rather than character motivated. While Dexter can't know it all - the novel is written in first person - it seemed that several of the supporting characters were a little too hollow. The writing was also fast paced, never reallying leaving you at the edge of your seat, though I might be biased because I watched the first season before I ever picked up the book. 

The novel, however, isn't without its value. It's still worth reading, especially if you're a fan of the show. All in all, the novel gets a three star rating. 

I'm still uncertain if I'm going to pick up the next book in the series, Dearly Devoted Dexter. For the moment, however, I'm returning to Stephen Prothero's God Is Not One, which is a part of my religious texts reading list.

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