Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Which Trai Reviews 'Dearly Devoted Dexter'

The Book: Dearly Devoted Dexter (second in the Dexter Morgan series)

The Author: Jeff Lindsay

How I Found It: By reading the first book. I think I'm turning into a Dexter fangirl. Eek!

The Review: 'Kay, first off, can I say how much I loveeee the cover for this book? At least, the cover for my edition, which is pictured here. Squint at it! It's a man, our Dex, knocking on a door holding a bouquet of roses... and a fillet knife. Oh, Dexter.

Yep, our boy's a serial killer who kills serial killers, or people who do bad things to kids, because Dexter loves kids. But when he's not indulging his dark side, he has to indulge his domestic side, in order to not rouse suspicion-- hence his "disguise," girlfriend Rita and her two kids, Astor and Cody.

That is why I love the cover so much-- it represents the dichotomy between dark/domestic Dexter perfectly, plus it's creepy as hell. Why I'm getting wrapped up in cover art, I have no idea. Anyway, onwards and upwards!

When we join Dexter in the beginning, we think he's hunting down his newest victim-- but no, he's playing a game of Kick the Can with Rita's kids, and why? Because his sergeant is on to him, and Dexter is aware that any move he makes under Doakes' nose will lead to him being discovered, something Dexter can't bear. So he has to abandon Dark Dexter and become the Dearly Devoted Dexter of the title, putting on the illusion for Doakes that he is a "family" man rather than something else entirely.

Problems arise when a man is found with literally every bit of him that can be cut off, cut off-- eyelids, tongue, lips, limbs, everything. Most of the police force is sickened, but Dexter's internal radar goes off. He'd like to find this monster, if only Doakes wasn't inconveniencing him. Or if the FBI wasn't.

Because Special Agent Kyle Chutsky has been sent in to deal with the problem, and he's entangled himself with Dexter's darling sister Deborah, who knows what exactly Dexter does as a hobby after the events of the first book.

Not only does Dexter have to deal with his sister depending on him to solve the case, there's also ramifications when his relationship with Rita becomes complicated by a misunderstanding that leaves Dexter at a loss.

A lot of people found this book superior to the first one, mostly because they had problems with the ending of Darkly Dreaming-- that didn't bother me, really; after the English course I'm in and the mysteries we read there, nothing fazes me anymore.

I disagreed with the majority-- while I did like the book a whole lot, I felt this one was slightly less superior to the first book. Since the identity of the killer and his motives are revealed early on in the book, I felt that the suspense was really lacking, and I found it so, so difficult to buy in to Deborah's attachment to Chutsky. She was with him for, what, a weekend and then they were like lovebirds? I was just as confused as Dexter on that front, frankly. I started wondering if Lindsay had to leave stuff on the chopping block at that point.

Also, the killer wasn't actually a killer, which was kind of... is annoying the right word? He was a sadistic bastard, yeah, and it wasn't like the people he was attacking were left with anything resembling a good life, but still. It just kind of bugged me. Although the final reveal of his strategy with the killings was... mind-blowing. What he does to them as he dismembers them is like the height of all sadism, but I thought it was brilliant.

Again, I'm starting to wonder just why I like this series so much. It's kinda disturbing.

The other thing that gave me some problems was the way Dexter talked about Rita in his head. He really cares for Astor and Cody, but he just persists to look at Rita as a means to an end. I know he doesn't feel emotions, but some semblance of caring for her would be nice. I felt like Rita deserved better than him at most points.

Anyway, while I felt bits of the book were lacking, I still really enjoyed it. I know not to read the books so close together, though-- the character exposition on people like Rita, Vince, etc. literally felt copy-and-pasted from the first book. It's usually how it goes with series, but it bothered me a bit here because there was almost no change in diction, nothing. At least try to find ways to vary your character descriptions, yeah?

Recommended to someone who loved the first book or the show (which I'm going to start watching soon; thank God for DVDs). Also recommended to someone who wants a unique perspective or who wants to test their ability to sympathize with an unconventional narrator.

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