Monday, May 23, 2011

Daringly Diversionary Dexter

Ah, Dexter, Dexter, Dexter. Have you seen the show? It really is quite entertaining. The only thing I object to is the seeming necessity to show a great deal of sex as it's occurring, but other than that, it has high drama, great suspense, and plenty of dark humor. Well, what else should you expect from "America's favorite serial killer?"

"The book is always better than the movie." I've heard that hundreds of times, and said it almost as much. I didn't even need the Miami Metro robbery-homicide detectives to learn that the first season of the show was based on Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay. The more I watched of the show - and I'm slowly making my way through the third season now - the more I wanted to read the books. There are five novels right now, and I finished reading the first, the aforementioned title, last night.

In the case of Dexter, the book is NOT better than the show; it's DIFFERENT. It would seem that the television show worked to develop the characters more than the book seemed willing to do. Then again, the book is focused on only one character, and that's our darkly dreaming Dexter. The show will take time away from him, focusing on other players in the tale. It's neither good nor bad...just different.

The humor is also more frequent in the book. For the first season, the show takes a 341 page paperback and stretches it into a twelve-hour presentation. Lots of room for drama and suspense in those hours. The book, being more condensed and having only one character's focus, allows for Dexter's internal monologue from the show to go on, and on, and on. And some of his internal musings are quite funny. Allow me to share a couple of examples (that are edited so as not to reveal plot). (Note: it's entirely possible that one really must read more of the book to get these, but I still find them quite amusing.)

And with that thought of course everything seemed better. It was just so nice to have that settled. I prefer [person] alive, rather than in small bloodless sections. Lovely, almost human of me. Now that was settled: What next? I could call Rita, perhaps take in a movie, or a walk in the park. Or, let's see - Maybe, I don't [person]? Yes, that sounded like fun.

Then, just a paragraph or so later...

All right then, clever Dexter - find him. Track down the [person]-napper. Let your relentless logic slash across the back trail like an icy wolf pack. Kick the giant brain into high gear; let the wind race across the rocketing synapse of your powerful mind as it speeds to its beautiful, inevitable conclusion. Go, Dexter, go!


Hello? Is anybody in there?

Characters are also different in the book. They have different roles in the department. I think the changes for the show were good ones, because having someone like Angel as just a forensics technician wouldn't have done much for the required drama of television. Two lab geeks on TV was enough for the masses. In the book, if Lindsay had chosen, it could have been all about the lab geeks, and none of the cops. But that's because television is addressed to masses who don't have great attention spans, while books are for those willing to truly commit to the details of a story.

I highly recommend the book...the first one, at the very least. I just started the second one this morning. (G-d bless Amazon and its reduced prices, along with free delivery; much cheaper than visiting a book store.) And as I understand it, the books and TV show went their separate ways after the first tale. In a way, this means I'm getting twice the Dexter, as the show offers an alternative timeline altogether. ("Not better but different" means the first book ends...differently.)

The foot aches. Rest is needed. And thankfully, I have what seems to be a good book waiting for me back in bed.

Be well, and DFTBA!

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