piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
serene wanted to know what i think of the book that inspired the tv series. i rather like the series.

short summary: surprisingly, i was disappointed in the book.

for those who don't know, dexter is a serial killer who dismembers his victims and derives considerable pleasure from that. to make this anti-hero palatable to the reader, he only kills fellow killers who have evaded the judicial system; a utilitarian ethic instilled in him by his adoptive father harry, who was a cop and saw early on exactly what dexter was becoming. conveniently, dexter works as a blood spatter analyst at the miami metro police. to leaven both his professional and his private work, he has a wry sense of humour, and a penchant for alliteration.

things are overall going pretty well for dexter; he has his "dark passenger" under control (well, as much under control as he can be). dexter's half-sister deborah who works (and hates) vice as an undercover hooker, wants to move up into homicide, and her opportunity is a new killer who kills and dismembers prostitutes. she enlists dexter's help in trying to find out who he is. to dexter the new killer has admirable -- and strangely familiar -- work habits, and surprisingly he soon appears to be sending dexter messages through his kills.

this all works well in the tv show, but for me it doesn't work nearly as well in the book. for one, i find tv's dexter is more likeable because he is something of a geek, and while he has managed to adjust sufficiently to society to not stand out like a sore thumb, he behaves much like a borderline asperger's. i can empathize with that. the book's dexter, on the other hand, is smooth and charming, and has women falling all over him; he blends in perfectly and there is not the same degree of fear of exposure.

the supporting characters are paper-thin in the novel, but are rather well fleshed-out in the tv show. dexter's backstory is much better foreshadowed and developed in the tv show. his engagement with the main killer, finding out more about him, and the denouement are given enough time in the show; in the novel the tracking of the killer seems rather deus ex machina, and the denouement feels very rushed. the chilling effect of -- despite us liking him -- dexter being a serial killer who enjoys his kills comes across much more solidly in the show (though this might easily be caused by blood and gore being much more visceral in pictures than in words).

so, while i think the book is a respectable first novel, the show's writers have even more of my respect now, because they took this as a blueprint and improved on it -- quite a different story from so many adaptations.

on 2010-09-15 18:10 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] treacle_well
That was pretty much my impression as well. I read the book after seeing as many episodes as were available at the time, and picked up the book to take the edge off my jones. Was indeed disappointed. It wasn't horrid, but the TV show shines. And I believe that even I had read the book without having seen the show it would have been "eh, mildly interesting read, but eh."

on 2010-09-15 18:39 (UTC)
janinedog: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] janinedog
Thanks for the review. I've been sort of considering reading the book since I LOVE the show, but I also don't want to be annoyed at it if it doesn't live up to my expectations. :)

Book vs. Show

on 2010-09-15 20:08 (UTC)
bzero: Seeker From Ask a Seeker (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] bzero
I liked the book. The TV show definitely expanded and improved, but it did have the advantage of coming after the fact. As a companion, it's interesting to see the characters from Dexter's point of view -- they're all "stupid" and flat, because Dexter's a sociopath. I heard the later books were crap, but as an inspiration for the series, the first book was entertaining.

on 2010-09-15 20:32 (UTC)
torachan: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] torachan
I heard about the book before the show ever came out and tried to read it but the writing was so bad I couldn't finish it. What really irked me was the way every single line of dialogue had some sort of direct address in it.

on 2010-09-15 22:24 (UTC)
eagle: Me at the Adobe in Yachats, Oregon (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] eagle
Oh, huh, interesting. That isn't what I'd heard about the book, so that's really good data. Thank you for writing up a review!

on 2010-09-16 08:02 (UTC)
red_trillium: a Dreamwidth Sheep with Spock ears and uniform (DW sheep - Spock Dreamwidth Sheep)
Posted by [personal profile] red_trillium
I've been curious about the book. I enjoy the show but it sounds like one of the few cases of the book isn't as good as the show then maybe I'll skip it and spend time reading artists I already know I like & haven't read all their works yet.

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