Good Reads 61: True Blood: Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires by @McMillz and Gianna Sobol

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I think the proper way to review this book is to put it into context of what it is, and what it is not. What it is not: an episode guide, season-by-season guide or any kind of comprehensive character guide. What it is: a notebook “written” by human Steve Newlin (and based on the text after Texas and before he was turned) with “annotations” by Eric and Pam who have found it on an AVL protestor that was protesting about Fangtasia.

The book itself does a good job looking like a lab book. Beneath the cardbord book jacket is the book’s title in white lettering and the True Blood logo engraved in black. Each page is generally printed on faux-graph paper (except when items like Fellowship of the Sun (FotS pamphelets cover pages) with one font each for Steve (black), Eric (blue) and Pam (red). The handwriting thing is a stretch, but the authors do a good enough job conveying the voices that it helps you suspend disbelief.

Timeline wise, it appears this book was written mid-season five, based on one of the comments left by Eric. Roman is dead, but the Authority haven’t all gone and offed each other yet. What this means is that any events that happened in season six – zero reference, unless they’re hinted at as future possibilities in the FotS sections (like the Hep V and vamp camp). For that matter, we don’t even get profiles of the Authority vampires. Aside from a few pages of Steve talking about his turning (Salome ordered it so he could eventually replace Nan, but he doesn’t know who did it, so nothing really new from the show), the Authority is largely discussed as a hypothetical, something that human Steve isn’t sure exists, but feels like it must. I do find this a bit jarring (like why is this being released so many months after season six if there is more or less zero content from that season ) and a bit of a disappointment. Your mileage may vary.

As for the new content in this book: it’s there. The bulk of it comes about Steve’s human life, and the history of the Fellowship of the Sun which is quite clever. There is also a lot lifted from the comic continuity that McMillian built up over its run. The average reader will be happy to know what happened to Chow, and the comic reader will delight in getting the backstory on Sarah’s romance novel (and an excerpt page!). That said, comic readers may find it a bit disappointing that most of the new content isn’t that new to them.

Finally, there is a section on werewolves, shifters (and thanks to Eric and Pam) a few pages on faeries as well as some location guides for vampire related businesses. These do feel a bit like filler, because the book is relatively slim at 144 pages.There are also fun drawings scattered throughout the text.

Overall, I do think the book accomplishes what it set out to do and fans of the series should enjoy this; though more casual fans might enjoy it more than the hardcore fan who has read the comics as well. I think as long as you go into it with the proper expectations, the book is a Buy It for fans of the show.

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